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Thomas J. West Music

Live webcam private music lessons, music education articles, compositions, clinician services, reviews

Thomas J. West Music Podcast

Official Podcast of ThomasJWestMusic.Com touching on topics for music teachers, students, parents, performers, composers, and music technology enthusiasts.

TJW Podcast Episode 8 - Music Composer/Lyricist Amy Engelhardt
Posted by ★ Owner on August 22, 2013 at 10:23 PM

In this episode, I interview musical vocalist, composer, and lyricist Amy Engelhardt. Amy has won several award as a composer and lyricist in her career and spent 14 years touring with Grammy-nominated a cappella originals The Bobs (in the role of "Amy Bob"). This podcast was recorded on Amy's birthday!

Teaching Musical Creativity to Secondary School Students

In this episode: Why creativity is not typically nurtured in most American public schools, the arts as a medium for critical thinking, where funding for the arts in public schools really comes from, Amy's upbringing in suburban New Jersey and how the arts' availability in public schools has changed, what the scene is like for music professionals today, "there is really no one path", giving students the tools to be musically creative, starting with what students like and "oiling the machinery" of music and lyrics writing, expanding the students' listening palate, There's always a first "first time", asking students what they think and why they think that, Amy's current projects and future teaching engagement at The A Cappella School, the rise in popularity of a cappella singing, taking the risk to write something original for a cappella, the best original stuff goes to the weird places, The Bobs and their mission to do something different, the difference between live performance and the recording, The Bobs unique approach to the recording process, embracing the geeky nature of a cappella singing, being unafraid to communicate your own perspective when composing music, how vocal competitions like Harmony Sweepstakes and The Sing-Off are not always the best vehicles for original and innovative music, Amy's project on Nikola Tesla and his avant-garde thinking, Amy's birthday show and taking a risk on performing an original comedy song, and Amy's message to music teachers everywhere.


The song at the beginning of this podcast is entitled "Like Me", music and lyrics by Amy Engelhardt. The song won an award for "Best Modern Rock Song" at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards. Pick up a copy of Amy's solo album here.


The song at the end of this podcast is also an original written by Amy and performed by The Bobs. It is entitled "Giant Robot Store" and can be found on their 2003 album "20 Songs from 20 Years" available here on Amazon.

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Tags: Music composition , lyrics , original music , amy engelhardt , the bobs , music education , music profession , recording industy
TJW Podcast, Episode 7 - Interview with John Bogenschutz, Tone Deaf Comics
Posted by ★ Owner on September 1, 2012 at 12:24 PM

In this episode: John Bogenschutz is a cartoonist specializing in his highly-successful web comic Tone Deaf, which caters to the marching arts, concert bands, and music education in general. John has a music education degree, has taught in public schools, and was a trumpet (soprano bugle) performer and staff member with several Drum Corp International junior corps. As of January of 2012, he is now working full-time on Tone Deaf, with side work on the Marching Roundtable podcast and occasional music arrangements for his music composition website.

We discuss our music-based websites and home-based businesses, John's background in illustration and composing, how Tone Deaf came into existence, John's drum corps background, the pros and cons of the drum corps activity, taking Tone Deaf to full-time job status, the advent of social media and self-publishing about five years ago, "The Facebook galaxy" and the band directors and music teachers professional learning networks on Facebook, #edchat and #musedchat on Twitter, a concept for a new kind of live interactive music podcast using Twitter, suggestions for musicians and music teachers considering starting a web-based business, the composer's 10% cut when publishing through traditional companies, and John's encouragement to listeners to "do it yourself" when it comes to publishing.

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Tags: Podcast , band , marching band , drum corps , websites , home-based employment , music publishing , music composition
TJW Podcast, Episode 6 - Interview with John Thirkell, Pure Solo
Posted by ★ Owner on March 4, 2012 at 6:35 PM

In this episode: John Thirkell is a professional trumpet player who has performed with Level 42 and artists such as Tina Turner, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Bon Jovi. He is the co-founder of Pure Solo, a website service that provides accompaniment recordings for a wide variety of music for users to record their own performances and share them via social media. John describes his career as a professional player, the inspiration that lead to the formation of Pure Solo, and how it is being incorporated into school systems in the UK as an educational tool. Tom and John discuss Jamie Aebersold's jazz books, the similarities between Pure Solo and Smart Music, the difficulty of negotiating international intellectual property rights, the organizational systems of public education in the UK and the United States, and how Pure Solo is particularly well-suited to individualized assessment of music students, particularly as a tool for choral directors and music teachers in cyber charter schools.

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Tags: Music performance , music technology , online music education , distance learning , copyright , public education , assessment , music pln
TJW Podcast Episode 5 - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Music In Our Schools Month
Posted by ★ Owner on March 16, 2011 at 12:37 AM

In this episode: Live from standardized testing proctoring "on the road" for a cyber charter school; heartfelt support for the victims of the Japan quake and tsunami; the forced bill vote in Wisconsin removing public sector union collective bargaining rights; Pennsylvania House Bill 855 suspends teacher pay for "economic reasons"; PA Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget slashes public education and higher education; encouraging words from a school superintendant about the arts; the lack of awareness of many teachers important issues that will impact their job; Music In Our Schools Month and #musedchat; ViaAcademies A Teacher in Every State initiative; Seth Godin's Poke the Box and his new publishing venture "The Domino Effect".

Book mentioned in this podcast:

poke the boxSeth Godin's new book Poke the Box was published just 15 days ago and is already #46 on the Amazon best-seller list. After reading his last book, Linchpin, and following Godin's blog, I highly recommend his book if you want to figure out how to make a living in this post-industrial era of online networking. Pick up a copy here.

Music featured in this podcast: Blues for Mike for saxophone trio. Visit the compositions page to download a free mp3, pdf scores, and republishing rights for this piece.

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Tags: Teachers unions , education reform , education politics , wisconsin , pennsylvania , music in our schools month , #musedchat , music technology; online music education
TJW Podcast, Episode 4 - David H. Thomas, Principal Clarinetist, Columbus Symphony
Posted by ★ Owner on February 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

David H. Thomas David Thomas, Principal Clarinetist of the Columbus Symphony since 1989, has had an outstanding career as a soloist as well as an orchestral player. During his previous position as Principal Clarinetist of the Kennedy Center Orchestra in Washington, DC, he was also well known in the Washington area for his numerous solo and chamber music recitals.  Beyond his many appearances as soloist with the Columbus Symphony, Mr. Thomas has performed concertos with the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony, and the National Chamber Orchestra. At age 18, he won First Prize in competitions sponsored by the International Clarinet Society and the Music Teacher National Association. Born into a Foreign Service family, David grew up as a world traveler, living in India and Iran as well as Washington D.C. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, collecting antique quilts, cooking, gardening, and writing for his blog, The Buzzing Reed.

In this episode, David and Tom discuss:

Twitter and networking; David's Flow Breathing techniques; his research on musical breathing using motion capture suits; a great trick for helping students raise the soft palate; the plight of classical music in today's society - how the high costs of maintaining a symphony has fallen to philanthropists for so long and how the internet has drawn benefactors elsewhere; how orchestra musicians must consider coming down to the audience's level and sharing their knowledge; the parallels between the current state of classical music and the current state of music education; how musicians unions and teachers unions need to adapt their practices; how David's blog site has become a interactive niche community for anyone interested in classical music (David uses Word Press and Buddy Press); using music technology to engage "the other 80%" of students in school districts who are not in a band, chorus, or orchestra; how symphonies and audiences in Mozart's time were a mixture of amateurs and professionals; blurring the lines between professional classical musicians and amateur classical enthusiasts; how online networking between music teachers, performers, and enthusiasts has only just begun, and how programs like El Sistema are the future of social reform through music; David's new upcoming website (see below).



Music used in this episode is David's performance of Mozart's Quintet K.581, Movement 2 - Adagio. You can download a free copy of this recording by right-clicking and selecting "Save Link As" HERE.


David mentioned his new website, which is due to be launched in March of 2011. Here is the mission statement from his new endeavor:

Radically delicious classical music and clarinet.

Classical music is and always has been radically delicious; cutting edge, relevant, even rebellious. But it has lost its relevance to the communities it seeks to serve.

The solution? Break down the barriers between performer and audience. Take music back to the people.

Why not? The experience of music is a lot more fun and engaging when it’s approached from a playful, creative attitude. That’s the whole point!

A balance of playfulness and depth informs my humble teaching, practice and performance of clarinet.

Why not dance and sing as you practice? Why not laugh and weep through your instrument?

Why not rock-classical-concerts with live orchestras surrounded by dancing audiences?

Why not?

Music. It's Radically Delicious.

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Tags: Clarinet , classical music , twitter , unions , niche communities , flow breathing , music technology , education reform
TJW Podcast Episode 3 - The National Anthem, Egypt's Revolution, and Homework
Posted by ★ Owner on February 13, 2011 at 9:21 PM

In this episode: receives an award, the recent questionable performance of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, thoughts on the revolution in Egypt, and the benefits and myths of homework.

Original music featured in this podcast: Wind Chimes for woodwind quartet. Visit the Compositions page to download a free copy of the score, parts, and mp3 of this piece for your own enjoyment.

Mentioned in this podcast:

The Homework Myth by Alfie KohnThe Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn is an interesting book that debunks many of the traditional views of the benefits of assigning homework to students. Mr. Kohn uses current research on the topic to point out the flaws in logic surrounding homework and how it contributes to the loss of students' natural interest in learning.

Support this website by purchasing a copy HERE

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Tags: National anthem , egypt revolution , homework , awards , original music
TJW Podcast Episode 2 - Sharing Your Passions With The World
Posted by ★ Owner on February 3, 2011 at 10:01 PM

In this episode: the powerful culture of gifts, the evolution of this website and the unique opportunities it has created, Twitter, #musedchat, music PLN, the Seika All-Girls High School Band, inspiring excellence in music students, and nurturing creativity in all students.

Original music featured in this podcast: Fantasia on the Stars of Night for clarinet trio. Visit the Compositions page to download a free copy of the score, parts, and mp3 of this piece for your own enjoyment.

Mentioned in this podcast:

Support my website and buy a copy on Amazon HERE

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Tags: Music composition , excellence , social media , podcasting , professional learning networks
TJW Podcast No. 1 - Janet Horvath of Playing Less Hurt
Posted by ★ Owner on October 9, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Janet Horvath played the cello so much she couldn't even turn a doorknob without it causing extreme pain. After recovering from tendonitis, she made it a personal mission to learn as much as she could about the repetitive strain injuries that musicians have quietly endured for generations. The culmination of her work is a book entitled Playing (Less) Hurt, which is an indispensible guide to injury prevention for every instrumental musician no matter what style or level of performing they do. Janet speaks very frankly about the nature of the repetitive injuries musicians sustain, the current reserach and treatments for them, and the new frontiers in treating hearing loss and hearing injuries. (35 min.)

Buy the book on Amazon
and support this website!

Click HERE

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Tags: Music performance , injury prevention , , authors , clinicians
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