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Cedar Rapids January 2018 Musician of the Month: Skylar Dudley
By West Music Company
1/6/2018 2:16:00 PM  

skylar dudleySkylar has been learning the guitar with Billy Lee Janey for 2 and ½ years and drums with Matt Bernemann  for only 3 months! Skylar is in the 9th grade.

Skylar’s musical goal is to release his own E.P. by the end of 9th grade. His advice to other musicians is to look up to anyone who is currently making a living from their artistic work. Some may have had no idea what they were doing at some point.

He loves playing music because it creates a deeper connection and understanding of the subject. Anyone can listen to music and enjoy it but creating and interacting with it is something special.

Skylar participates in “A Few Good Men” which is a select choir at school, the Oakland Church Youth Band and Prairie Point 9th grade Band.

Some of Skylar’s hobbies include playing video games and writing stories. He listens to a variety of alternative music from My Chemical Romance to Dodie Clark to Slipknot and Twenty-One Pilot.

You might be surprised to learn that in 8th grade Skylar stuck a paper clip in an electrical outlet.

Congratulations Skylar!




Tags: guitar, drums, Billy Lee Janey, Matt Bernemann
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Ian Draves
By West Music Company
1/5/2018 3:10:00 PM  

ian dravesIan Draves picked up his first electric bass at the age of ten. Starting middle school Ian took upright bass lessons and played in orchestra and jazz band. In 2007 he continued his education at Washington High School learning from Natalie Brown (Orchestra), Steve Stanley (Band/Jazz Band), and Dr. Gerald Kreutzer (Choir). While taking private lessons from John Hall and Richard Wagor, Ian performed in every ensemble he could get into.

Ian attended Kirkwood Community College and started taking private lessons with Jeanette Welch. During college, he started leading and arranging for his school’s Jazz combo and vocal jazz combo and winning multiple soloist awards at multiple festivals.

Currently, Ian works at West Music as a String Sales Consultant, while managing a local 9-piece Soul/Funk Band Soul Sherpa. Along with these activities, he performs in many musical ensembles in the area: Theater Cedar Rapids Pit Orchestra, Cedar Rapids Big Band, and multiple jazz combos to name a few.

Learn more about taking lessons with Ian or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or learn more at Looking4Lesson.com and schedule your first class online! 




Tags: ian draves, orchestra, bass guitar, lessons
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids January 2018 Musician of the Month: Chris Diemerly
By West Music Company
1/5/2018 1:40:00 PM  

chris dimerlyChris Diemerly is an adult guitar student of Billy Lee Janey. He has been studying with Billy for 2 years. Chris also plays piano (38 years), clarinet (36 years), and the french horn, violin, and harpsichord while he was in college.

Chris works at Novolex Packaging.

Billy nominated Chris for Musician of the Month because he is an accomplished pianist as well as a guitarist, and they have a lot of fun together during lessons. One of Chris’s goals is to play guitar in a band. His musical advice to other musicians is to practice! He says there will be hard days and times when it’s a struggle but it will get easier. The things he loves most about making music is it entertains him and others. He also likes writing music that sets the mood.

He plays locally in the Marion Community Band on the clarinet in the summer time. Chris has several favorite musicians that include: ZZ Top, Dire Straits, Chicago, John Williams, Danny Elfman, James, Horner, Aaron Copland, Antonin Dvorak, Hector Berlioz and of course Weird Al Yankovic!

Someone might be surprised to learn that Chris has composed a full requiem mass in Latin!

You can be like Chris and learn a new instrument as an adult! Learn about West Music's wide varity of classes & lessons.




Tags: guitar, billy lee janey, marion community band
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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VH1 Save the Music Grant Awarded to Cedar Rapids Schools
By West Music Company
12/14/2017 10:16:00 AM  

CR Franklin Middle with InstrumentsCoralville, IA – December 13, 2017–  Just in time for the holidays, Cedar Rapids (CR) schools were awarded a Fall 2017 VH1 Save the Music Grant. VH1 Save The Music provides brand-new musical instruments to public elementary and middle schools that demonstrate a need for a sustainable instrumental music program.

The center piece of the grant was realized on December 4th when West Music delivered 1 Casio GP500 Grand Hybrid, and 3 Casio WK7600 keyboards to Franklin Middle School.

Thankful for the additions to their music programs, Beth Davies, the Music Curriculum Facilitator for the CR Community School Districts expressed, “We are so grateful to VH1 Save the Music and West Music for the opportunity to apply and receive this grant. Our stage piano has been showing its age for some time now, so the piano and 3 keyboards are coming at a perfect time for our music students here at Franklin. The band, orchestra, and choir programs will all get great use out of the piano for our rehearsals and performances. The keyboards will be used for our choirs and general music classes. We just can’t thank VH1 and West [Music] enough for this great gift.”

West Music, the area’s leading specialty music retailer, was proud to partner with VH1 and Casio to make this incredible opportunity a reality. By supporting the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, West Music furthers its efforts to help kids, schools, and communities realize their full potential through the power of making music. 




Tags: vh1, save the music, cedar rapids, pianos, keyboard, middle school, franklin middle
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion, Press Releases
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Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Amy Brandt
By West Music Company
12/6/2017 8:01:00 AM  
Amy teaches violin and viola here at West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion. She started teaching in Denver in 2003 and joined the West Music team in 2004. She has been teaching for over 14 years.

Amy started playing the violin at age 3 and the viola at age 10. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa. She received her Suzuki Pedagogy Certificate from the University of Denver. She studied Carnatio Violin for one semester during study abroad in India in 1998. She has also enjoyed playing in a quartet at the University of Denver.

Amy’s hobbies and interests include selling beaded jewelry at Kalona Junction in Kalona, Iowa. She also enjoys photography, yoga, biking and hiking.

Her favorite thing about teaching Amy says is sharing her love of music with her students.

Learn more about taking lessons with Amy or any of our music instructors. Call West Music at 800-373-2000, or see Amy's webpage and schedule your first class online! 



Tags: Amy brandt, violin, viola, University of iowa, suzuki
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids November 2017 Musician of the Month: Matthew Underhill
By West Music Company
11/6/2017 3:27:00 PM  

matthew underhillMatthew is an electric guitar student of Billy Lee Janey. He also plays the clarinet for school. Matthew is in the 6th grade at Taft Middle School. He has been studying with Billy for a little over a year.

Matthew’s musical goals include being able to play in a Christian music band at the church he attends and to be able to write his own music. His advice to other students is to try as hard as you can, practice hard, and never give up. He loves playing music because it is rewarding and fun to do.

His other interests and hobbies include photography and stop motion movie making. He likes dogs and other animals and playing video games. His favorite music is popular and Christian music.

Congratulations, Matthew!




Tags: clarinet, guitar, electric guitar, Billy Lee Janey
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids October 2017 Musician of the Month: Holly Larson
By West Music Company
11/1/2017 4:57:00 AM  
holly larson pianoHolly Larson is a piano student of Chuck Michaelson here at West Music in Marion/Cedar Rapids. She has been studying with Chuck for 5 months. She attends school at St. Matthews and is in the 4th grade. Chuck nominated Holly because, “She has a lot of enthusiasm for the piano and has been making steady progress.”

Holly’s musical goal is to be in a band when she grows up. Her advice to other musicians is to, “Keep trying and never give up!” Holly’s favorite thing about music is the different sounds it makes. She participates in her school choir and also church choir. Her other interests include violin and art. Holly’s favorite musician is Prince. Something that someone might be interested to learn about Holly is that she hates salmon.

Congratulations, Holly!



Tags: piano, student, chuck michaelson
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids July 2017 Muisician of the Month: Christine Newlin
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
adult piano student
Christine Newlin is an adult piano student of Sara Miller at West Music Cedar Rapids. She was nominated for Musician of the Month because she has finished book 1 for piano and has been studying piano with Sara Miller for only 4 months!
 
Christine works at Aegon Assessment in Cedar Rapids. Her musical goal is to learn a song she can play with her husband, her eight year old daughter Kate, and her six year old son Owen. Some advice Christine would like to impart to others wanting to learn an instrument is, “It is never too late to start. It is very relaxing and uses parts of the brain that you don’t normally use.”
 
Her interests include reading, traveling, hiking and yoga. Something that might surprise someone to learn about Christina is that she sang in the Afro-American choral ensemble at Indiana University when she was in college.
 
Congratulations, Christine!



Tags: piano, lesson, student, teacher, instructor, Sara Miller
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids July 2017 Musician of the Month: Sophia Spinner
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
sophia spinner flute student
Sophia Spinner has been taking flute lessons from Alice Lindsey for about 6 months. She has just finished 6th grade and is going into 7th.  She was nominated for musician of the month because she plays several different instruments including violin and piano and plays all three really well in a short amount of time.

Some advice Sophia would like to give other aspiring musicians is to practice every day and never give up. She loves the fact that she can inspire other people to play an instrument even though they may not know how. Sophia play flute and percussion in a home school band for one year and violin in orchestra for four years.

She loves to listen to K-Pops bands from Korea. BTS is her favorite. She is interested in martial arts: tae kwon do and hapkido. She also likes practicing with martial arts weapons. Her favorite performer is BTS, Got7 and NCT. She also listens to Lindsey Sterling on violin and August D.

What someone might be surprised to find out about Sophia is that in her senior year of high school she will be moving to Korea.

Congratulations, Sophia! Great job!



Tags: Alice Lindsey, lessons, student, teacher, flute, woodwind
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Les Ohlhauser
By West Music Company
7/1/2017 1:01:00 AM  
Les Ohlhauser
Les Ohlhauser has been teaching guitars privately for 15 years. He started teaching here at West Music Cedar Rapids in March of 2017. He started playing guitar at the age of 13. His father taught him a few chords on an acoustic guitar and he bought his first electric guitar shortly after that. It was a red Memphis-not exactly the Cadillac of guitars but it sure did the trick!
 
Les has a background in music theory from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and took lessons from Pat Smith and Steve Armstrong. He has also played thousands of gigs in all manners of genres. When he is not letting his fingers cruise around the fretboard he works as a bookseller. “Do what you love?” I’ve got that covered, he says.
 
Currently he plays solo acoustic performances and works with a band that writes their own obnoxious music. Starting this fall he will be playing with a band in Cedar Rapids that focuses on pop/funk/dance tunes. It’s a genre he has not played live much so for him it will be a rare treat and something new!
 
A past interesting performance his top one he says was,” playing with his old band called Nuclear Biologist Rocket Surgeons and they played in an art gallery”. It was full on experimental freak out music (9 minute songs about Riboflavin anyone?) With thousand dollar paintings all around them it made quite the experience. Surreal but cool.
 
His hobbies include: reading, cooking, jigsaw puzzles, hiking, gardening and of course playing musical instruments every chance he gets! A recent travel experience includes flying to Ireland with his wife which was a magical trip. He also travels a lot to catch live shows of his favorite bands. His favorite thing about teaching is that he loves seeing someone go from not understanding something to understanding. That moment the student “gets it” and the satisfaction that follows. I love it!”
 
One of his most musical/educational experiences includes playing in a live karaoke band in Chicago. Amazing band members, 120 song set list and new songs every week- the toughest gig he has ever played! Because it was the singers choosing the songs at random, we never played the same set twice, often completely different sets for a few nights in a row. Truly a test of chops, memory and organization. It was the kind of trail by fire you can’t get anywhere but the stage.
 
You can find Les on the internet at www.lesohlhauser.com and at www.facebook.com/lesohlhauserguitar.



Tags: guitar, lessons, Les Ohlhauser
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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