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Educating the Next Generation of Music Teachers
By West Music Company
6/21/2017 4:25:00 PM  

West Music & Chairman Steve West Honored for Efforts in Music Education

Since its founding in 1941, West Music has been dedicated to music education. Last month West Music and its Chairman of the Board, Steve West, received The President’s Honor from Kirkwood Community College. The award was given in recognition of both the company’s and Steve West’s own personal dedication to the school in its efforts to train the next generation of music teachers.

40 Year Relationship with Kirkwood Community College

Kirkwood Community College is a long established 2-year college in Eastern Iowa. Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, the college also has several satellite locations across the region. They offer several music-related degrees including Music Theory, Music History and Applied Music.

Steve West first became involved with Kirkwood in the 1980’s, while he was the president and CEO of West Music, when the school asked about purchasing a few new instruments. Over the next 40 years the relationship grew from simply transactional to one that was truly collaborative.

Graduating Future Music Teachers Sooner and For Less

In 2006 West Music established an endowed Kirkwood scholarship for students beginning their studies at Kirkwood, then transferring to The University of Iowa or University of Northern Iowa to peruse degrees in music education.

Before 2006, music education students transferring from Kirkwood to one of these universities would lose 40 of their 62 college credits. Steve West worked with the schools to pave the way for acceptance of every college credit earned while at Kirkwood. Thanks in part to this collaboration, today future music teachers can graduate sooner and with far less debt than they did in the past.

Community Efforts to Bring Music to More Students

West Music continues to be a key supporter to Kirkwood’s music programs as well as an enthusiastic booster of the Kirkwood Foundation. Steve West has been a tireless volunteer and leader in Foundation campaigns and initiatives to bring more resources to Kirkwood music programs.

Additionally, West Music has donated to Kirkwood’s piano practice studios for many years and partners with Kirkwood's K.I.C.K. Summer Camp program, helping to provide a variety of summer music camps to students of all ages and abilities.


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Categories: West Music Marion, Music Advocacy
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Do You and Your Coworkers Rock? West Music Sponsors CBJ’s Battle of the Bands
By West Music Company
6/6/2017 3:56:00 PM  

Corporate Battle of the BandsIs your office mate a rock star in disguise? You might be surprised!

West Music is proud to be sponsoring CBJ’s 2nd Annual Corporate Battle of the Bands. This contest showcases the musical talents of employees in Eastern Iowa. Businesses are encouraged to form their own bands and compete for the tile of Best Corporate Band!

This is West Music’s second year sponsoring CBJ’s event. While West Music employees are not eligible to participate (too many pros at our company), the event fits with our larger mission to encourage people of all ages and occupations to “Play now. Play for life.”

CBJ will be accepting band nominations through Monday, June26, 2017. Then, six bands will be chosen to compete at a live competition from 6-9 p.m. on August 24, 2017 at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City.

$1000 grand prize

Similar to American Idol, the bands perform and then receive feedback from a distinguished panel of judges. West Music’s own Alex Beamer will be one of the judges, along with Rob Cline of Hancher and Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa.

The winning band will receive $1,000 credit to spend at West Music, $1,000 to give to their favorite charity, a traveling trophy and bragging rights! They will also be invited to headline CBJ’s Coolest Places to Work event in September.

The CBJ’s competition has a few simple requirements: at least half of the band’s members must work at the company the band represents, and the lead singer must work at the company. All music styles are encouraged. Last year music styles ranged from pop and country to alt rock and reggae!

To nominate your band or buy tickets to the event, go to corridorbusiness.com/events and click on Corporate Battle of the Bands.

Photos and video courtesy of Corridor Business Journal (CJB). Additional sponsors of this event include Shive Hattery Architecture and Engineering and Big Grove Brewing & Taproom.


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Categories: West Music Marion, West Music Cedar Falls, West Music Coralville, Contests
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Celtic Camp is Heating Up This Summer
By West Music Company
5/24/2017 12:39:00 PM  

West Music Celtic CampCeltic Camp Performance NewboLast summer’s Celtic Camp was such a success, that we’re doing it again! Celtic Camp is a week-long summer program at West Music Cedar Rapids for intermediate-level music students. It’s a chance to for students to learn a whole new genre of music in a fun, laid-back environment perfect for the summer. The program ends with a public performance to showcase what the students have learned. Last year, we played at NewBo City Market. This year we’re scheduled to play a two-hour concert at the Cedar Rapids Downtown Public Library!

Middle and high school students who play a woodwind or string instrument are invited to take part in this camp. While flutes are most traditionally seen in Celtic music, all woodwind instruments are welcomed, including saxaphones.

To get the most out of this class, string players should be able to play from Suzuki Book 3. Woodwind players should be playing from Standards of Excellence Book 2 or Student Instrumental Course 2 and have good tone. The average student age is 12 to 15.

Laura Phillips and Mike Hall will once again lead this class. Laura is a woodwinds instructor, public school music teacher, music composer and arranger. When she’s not busy with her students or writing music, she performs in the local Irish folk band, Irishjam. Mike is a professional musician with Orchestra Iowa and teaches violin and viola at West Music.

Celtic Camp is a great way for students to grow as musicians. Traditional Irish folk music uses a lot of rhythm groupings in 3's, as well as groupings of 2's, which gives students a challenge!  Also, it’s an opportunity to play as part of an ensemble.  We’ve seen students grow leaps and bounds by learning to play Celtic music as part of a group. And, while we cannot promise anything, last year three Celtic Camp students did go onto All State.

We hope to see your son or daughter at this year’s Celtic Camp. Register soon to reserve your seat!

Celtic Camp at West Music Cedar Rapids

For Intermediate-Level Middle & High School Students
July 3 - July 8, 2017
Meets every day, except July 4th, from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Performance July 8th at Cedar Rapids Downtown Library, 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Register online or by calling 800-373-2000


Hear about Celtic Camp from instructor Laura Phillips and listen to a sample of the music your child will learn how to play by the end of camp!


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Tags: summer camp, celtic, irish, classes, cedar rapids, downtown
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids April 2017 Musician of the Month: Benjamin Hollinger
By West Music Company
5/1/2017 8:00:00 AM  
Our musician of the month for May 2017 is Benjamin Hollinger. Benjamin is a piano student of James Jenkins here at West Music Cedar Rapids. He is in the 3rd grade at Prairie View Elementary school. He has studied piano with Mr. Jenkins for 1½ years. Benjamin is always prepared for his lessons and always has a great lesson.

Benjamin’s musical goals are to learn to play the drums and play in a school band and church youth group. His advice to other musicians is to NOT quit even if you get frustrated! The thing he likes most about making music is to listen to the music he plays.

Some other interests Benjamin includes are soccer, chess, working on projects, building things, and computer programming. His favorite music is 80’s rock. Something that you might not know about Benjamin is that he was born with a club foot.
Congratulations, Benjamin! Great job!

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Tags: West Music, Cedar Rapids, piano, lessons, James Jenkins
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids March 2017 Musician of the Month: Isaac Peterson
By West Music Company
3/29/2017 1:16:00 PM  
Isaac musician of the month

Isaac is a brass instrument student of Matt Driscoll here at the West Music Cedar Rapids. He currently plays trumpet and tuba but has recently begun piano lessons. Isaac is in 10th grade and is homeschooled. He has studied music with his teach Matt Driscoll for five years!

Isaac participates in the Marion Homeschool Assistance program concert and symphonic bands. His musical goal is to play in band at college and possibly after graduation. His advice to other musicians is to, “work hard, but have fun playing music.”

Some of Isaac’s other interests include: robotics and cyber defense with Cedar Rapids Area Homeschools IT club, karate, and golf. His favorite kinds of music include classical, Sousa marches, and movie themes.

You may be surprised to learn that Isaac does NOT like modern music.

Congratulations Isaac! 


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Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Jeremy Jacobs - Cedar Rapids' New Luthier Extraordinaire
By West Music Company
2/10/2017 9:14:00 AM  
Jeremy JacobsWest Music is proud to introduce its newest luthier, Jeremy Jacobs!  Jeremy has set up shop at West Music Cedar Rapids and has already gotten to work fixing guitars and other stringed instruments from around the community. Along with Bruce Vanderschel and Kevin Halbrooks in Coralville and Tony Carducci in Quad Cities, Jeremy is a key player in our fretted instrument repair team!

Jeremy is a Marion, IA native who describes music as his passion.  He has been fixing guitars since his days at Linn-Mar High School, and kicked off his professional career almost a decade ago as a guitar repair tech at Guitar Center. He is Expert Level Certified in many types of fretted instrument repair including restrings/setups, basic and advanced wiring, structural repair, and fret work.  While Jeremy will admit the guitar is his favorite instrument (he owns several Les Pauls, Explorers and Flying Vs), he can repair or setup almost anything with strings, including orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos. 

Jeremys GuitarsJeremy is also a professional musician in his own right. He has performed on electric guitar alongside some of the greatest musicians in the Cedar Rapids area and has recorded with several local bands. The two main guitars he uses on stage are ones he built himself! He started off with just a blank body and neck, and assembled them using spare parts he was able to find. He even drew his own designs on them using a Sharpie.
When asked what made him excited about being at West Music, he answered getting to be on the same team as people like Bruce, Kevin and Tony. Bruce is known for his incredible ability to fix and refinish older, more delicate guitars, and Kevin and Tony have both created one-of-kind instruments for professional musicians.

Jeremy gives the following instrument care tips to any string player out there. First, it’s important to humidify your stringed instrument in dry weather.  Second, if you are bringing your instrument in from the cold, let it warm up before playing.  Finally, bring your guitar and other stringed instruments to him for regular maintenance!

If you’re interested in getting your strings fixed by Jeremy or any of our luthiers, please give us a call or complete our Fetted Instrument Repair Form.


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Cedar Rapids January 2017 Musician of the Month: Ian Wolverton-Weiss
By West Music Company
1/2/2017 3:09:00 PM  
Ian Wolverton-Weiss is an 8th grader in the community and is a clarinet student of Bart Yates. He has studied clarinet with Bart for 1 ½ years.

Bart nominated Ian for Musician of the Month because, “Ian was accepted to IBA (an honor band for the best 8th grade players in the state) and has been playing very well. He is also a joy to teach.”

Ian’s musical goals are to be accepted to All State Band and Choir. His advice to other musicians is to have a positive attitude. Ian is in show choir, choir and soccer. He also enjoys participating in musicals. He likes Legos, biking, skiing and Star Wars. His favorite musician is Charlie Puth and Ian likes melodic piano music.

You might be surprised to learn that Ian went to school in London once and is the least picky eater he knows. He will eat anything!

Congratulations, Ian!

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Tags: Bart Yates, clarinet, lesson
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids December 2016 Musician of the Month: Lauren Miller
By West Music Company
12/1/2016 8:26:00 AM  
Lauren is a piano student of Alice Lindsey. Alice nominated Lauren because she says, ”Lauren is a relatively new student but already she is in Lesson 6 of Book One. She practices, brings well prepared lessons, and accomplishes much during the lesson.” 

Lauren is a 5th grader in Cedar Rapids. She loves that you can encourage others with playing music and that it is fun. Her other interests include: gymnastics, volleyball and she also plays the clarinet!

She listens to all different kinds of music and likes them all.

Great job, Lauren! Keep up the good work!

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Tags: piano, lesson, Alice Lindsey, cedar rapids, marion
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Marion
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Cedar Rapids November 2016 Teacher Feature: Ryan Swedean
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 10:00:00 AM  
Ryan Swedean has come to us to teach low brass from South Dakota. He started playing trumpet in 4th grade then switched to baritone. In high school he switched to tuba which he still plays with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. In college he switched to trombone.

Ryan has his degree Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance from the University of South Dakota. He has done graduate work in trombone performance at North Dakota State University. He is working on his Masters of Music in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and hopes to have it complete by August 2016.

Ryan subs in various districts around the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas.

He currently plays with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. Some groups Ryan has performed with in the past include the Beach Boys, Train and other classical and jazz artists.

His hobbies and interests include playing trombone, watching Netflix with his wife, and playing with his dog.

His favorite thing about teaching is seeing a student’s face when they make the real sound of their instrument. One of his most interesting educational experiences has been teaching in one of the poorest counties in the country.

Click here to get 50% off lesson registration with Ryan Swedean through November!


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Cedar Rapids November 2016 Musician of the Month: Lizzie Leu
By West Music Company
11/1/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Lizzie is a bass guitar and ukulele student of Billy Lee Janey and has been studying with him for two and a half years. Lizzie is a senior at Xavier High School.  Her musical goal is to finish her high school music career with Division 1 ratings in concert and marching bands. Her advice to other musicians is to "practice, but go into it thinking 'this is going to be fun not work!'” She is obsessed with how music can drastically affect the way you think and feel in a matter of minutes. "It’s a stress relief for me and overall feels better after a band rehearsal or music lesson."

Lizzie is involved in marching band, concert and jazz bands, show choir, and combo groups. She enjoys mock trials and tutoring in school. Her other interests include biking, reading, and camping. She likes to hang out at the Newbo Market area here in Cedar Rapids.

Her favorite musicians and composers include Joni Mitchell, Claude Debussy, and The Smiths.

You might be surprised to learn that Lizzie has an embarrassingly large collection of vinyl records!

Congratulations Lizzie! Keep up the great work!

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Tags: lessons, lesson, student, conservatory, bass guitar, ukulele, Billy Lee Janey
Categories: West Music Marion
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