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Thomas J. West Music

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

Video Gallery

The following videos were created by Tom and hosted on YouTube. There are a variety of videos here showcasing Tom's music compositions as well as providing music practice tips for both teachers and students.

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  • Great Performances - Chicago Symphony Or...
    by ★ Owner on April 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM
    2584 Views - 0 Comments

    My soul needed this today.



    Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations are one of the major works for symphony orchestra, and few movements of orchestral music are as moving, poignant, sensitive, and emotional as Nimrod. Music students need to be exposed to music of this level. It is simultaneously simple, yet has tremendous depth. Most students would dismiss it immediately as "slow and boring," but grow to love (or at least respect) it after spending time in ensemble with it.


  • Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2011 Conne...
    by ★ Owner on April 7, 2011 at 10:12 PM
    2026 Views - 0 Comments


    In the moment when the camera pulls back and we see all 2052 singers orbiting director and composer Eric Whitacre, we get a glimpse of something truly bigger than ourselves.

    Riding the success of the first installment of the Virtual Choir , Eric Whitacre and his team have created something truly breathtaking and important with the 2011 performance of "Sleep". The 2011 Virtual Choir video features 2052 performances of 'Sleep' from 1752 singers in 58 countries, individually recorded and uploaded to YouTube between September 2010 and January 2011. The true magic of this project is not in the performance of the music, however, but in the ability of the internet to bring together human beings from all over the globe with the common goal of creating art.

    One of the comments left on the YouTube page says it best: "This is what the Internet was made for. Not for giving people their 15 minutes of fame. Not to view videos of them acting idiotic, and not a way to spew hateful words. The Internet was made to bring us together and make us feel connected. It is because of this need to feel bonded to one another that something so beautiful like this could be made. I strongly hope that you will take the time to listen to this great accomplishment in music, and take comfort in knowing that you're not alone."

    Music connects human beings in ways that transcend any boundaries we create with our boarders, our languages, our customs, and our self-imposed conventions. Thank you very much, Mr. Whitacre and your co-creators, for showing us the potential we have for understanding one another in new and intimate ways thanks to the rapid progress of technology.

  • Great Performances - Stephen Colbert and...
    by ★ Owner on April 3, 2011 at 9:15 PM
    1979 Views - 0 Comments

    Note: this video has been removed from YouTube. You can see the official version here.

    By now, if you spend any length of time at all online, you have probably at least heard about the viral video "Friday" by middle-schooler-turned-pop-star Rebecca Black. Her video has spawned quite a wave of attention, both positive and negative. The song itself can at best be described as "catchy" and at worst as "a pathetic attempt at a real song". The lyrics are particularly poor, and Miss Black's vocal technique is quite "untrained". If you haven't seen it yet, watch the original.

    This song has over 82 million views as of this posting and has spawned several dozen parodies. Conan O'Brien created his own version called "Thursday," claiming Rebecca stole his idea. There's a Bob Dylan version, and on and on.

    In a totally unrelated story, Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report recently sold a painting of himself for $26,000 in an auction in New York [link]. In an effort to get more people to bid, Colbert claimed that fellow late night host Jimmy Fallon was going to match the final amount and that all proceeds were going to further childrens' art education. However, Fallon never actually agreed to such an arrangement.

    So, being a good sport, Fallon made Cobert a deal - if Jimmy could match the sale price of the painting, $26,000.00, on a Donors Choose campaign, Colbert agreed to come on the Fallon show and sing his own rendition of "Friday." The Donors Choose campaign raised over $65,000.00 and Colbert delivered on his promise below, with a special cameo appearance during the middle of the song.

    Colbert, self-admittedly "not a singer" does an admirable job of managing the rather simplistic melody of the song, and Jimmy Fallon's auto-tuned entrance is quite funny. The over-the-top "epic" pagentry of this performance is a great parody of the orignal song and a true satire of the ridiculousness that is often American pop culture.

    The original video of Friday sparked some interesting discussion on the Music Professional Learning Network as well. What are the implications of a video such as this for music education?

  • Great Performances - Bernstein Conducts ...
    by ★ Owner on April 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM
    3042 Views - 0 Comments


    Music PLN member Brandt Schneider shared this video today. There are so many things about this that are just simply superlative: Mahler's mastery of composition, Bernstein's embodiment of the music, the excellent performance quality of all involved, and more. I particularly was struck by the way the ascending motif at the 3:00 mark skillfully melts into the woodwinds as the piece takes it's last deep breath before the final chords of The Ressurection Symphony. I am also quite fond of Mahler's Ninth for completely different reasons.

  • Why An "A" Is Not Enough - A Demonstrati...
    by ★ Owner on March 29, 2011 at 8:59 PM
    2736 Views - 0 Comments

    This video features a high school honors band performing a portion of Frank Ticheli's setting of the American folk song "Shenandoah". First, the conductor has the band play the excerpt as it is written on the page, then he has them play it with 90% of the sounds correct (an "A" as far as report cards and tests are concerned). Finally, they play the excerpt as it is written, but with emotional expressiveness that only a live performing ensemble can deliver. Enjoy.

  • A Demonstration of the new Vocal Remover...
    by ★ Owner on March 18, 2011 at 9:07 AM
    3127 Views - 0 Comments

    The folks at Sourceforge have been paying attention.

    As anyone who uses Audacity probably knows, there are several YouTube videos that teach you how to use the web's more popular freeware audio recorder/editor to remove vocal tracks from a recording. The new version of Audacity (1.3 Beta) now has this ability onboard as an item under the Effects menu. Simply select all, click on Vocal Remover, and you're done.

    The Vocal Remover feature doesn't perform flawlessly, because it depends on the way the original data was recorded. Vocal remover removes any center-panned sounds (voice or otherwise) from the selected region. Center-panned means that the data for those sounds appears identically on both the left and right channels of the recording. If your vocalist sounds like he's standing on stage left, Vocal Remover will not work. If the vocal is center-panned, but the reverb of the voice is not, you will still get an echo of the voice on the finished track. Also, any instruments that are center-panned will also disappear.

    Vocal Remover is a great tool for voice teachers to take a popular song that students want to work on and giving them a practice track that sounds a lot like the original. It is not flawless, but for educational purposes, it is very useful.

  • Great Performances - Maynard Ferguson Cr...
    by ★ Owner on March 17, 2011 at 9:06 AM
    3460 Views - 0 Comments

    In honor of St. Patrick's Day 2011, here is the incomparable Maynard O'Ferguson! If you have been around jazz bands at all, you know the soaring high notes and big sound of Maynard Ferguson and his band. Here is his tranquil version of Danny Boy (as tranqil as Maynard gets, at least). One has to appreciate the artful application of his altissimo trumpet playing in this recording.

    Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

  • Great Performances - What Pi Sounds Like...
    by ★ Owner on March 11, 2011 at 2:35 PM
    1785 Views - 0 Comments


    This video has been circulating Facebook in anticipation of International Pi Day on March 14th (3/14). It does a great job of explaining the major scale and associated triads, then shows the performance of a piece of music incorporating those pitches and chords.

    This piece is reminiscent of New Age music composed based on the Fibonacci series, the golden mean, and the ancient solfeggio scale. I find sacred geometry and cymatics to be fascinating and look forward to a future time when I can explore those concepts even more in my own compositions. My piece for concert band, entitled Diamond Dance, was based on the golden mean.

  • A Glimpse Inside The Center For Performi...
    by ★ Owner on March 3, 2011 at 8:31 PM
    3705 Views - 0 Comments

    CPFA logo

    What a pleasant surprise tonight to pay a brief visit to my school's YouTube channel to find a short interview with my boss featured! Mark Allen is the founder and director of the Center for Performing and Fine Arts, a unique on-site offering of the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School located in West Chester, PA.

    PALCS students in grades K-12 take their coursework from home over the internet. Students in southeast PA commute as far as 2 hours one way twice a week to attend a full day of immersion classes in music, art, drama, and dance beginning in grade 5. CPFA also has a small but growing Remote Access program, which makes CPFA content available to any PALCS student regardless of their location in Pennsylvania.

    If you look very closely around the 12 second mark, you'll see a familiar face (i.e. yours truly).

  • Optimize Your PC For Use With Mixcraft
    by ★ Owner on February 21, 2011 at 9:40 AM
    2479 Views - 0 Comments

    Upon updating my copy of Mixcraft today to 5.2, the installer opened up a thank-you page on the MixCraft website containing two YouTube videos. The first was a walkthrough with MixCraft's lead developer on the features added in release 5.2. The second is this video, entitled "Optimizing Your PC for Use with MixCraft". It is an excellent 12 minute walkthrough of adjusting settings within MixCraft and also on your PC to adjust system resources for the best playback and recording possible. If you use MixCraft for anything besides playing with loops, I highly recommend watching this video.

  • Great Performances - Gustavo Dudamel Dan...
    by ★ Owner on February 17, 2011 at 8:13 AM
    2617 Views - 0 Comments

    Once again, Gustav Dudamel shows why he is worthy of attention.



    The Youth Orchestra of Venezuela is such a success story. El Sistema is such an important program not only for preserving classical music, but for creating social change.



    Dudamel's unbridled passion and infectious energy, combined with a reverence for the music and a willingness to break from tradition, make for the perfect storm. This video typifies all of those qualities in 90 seconds.


  • Mike Huckabee On Art And Music Education...
    by ★ Owner on February 14, 2011 at 1:50 PM
    2455 Views - 0 Comments

    This video, via the good folks at SoundTree, passed through the Music PLN today. Whatever your political leanings may be, and whatever you may thing of Mike Huckabee, his message in this video, as far as I'm concerned, touches on the root of not only the benefits of an education in the performing and fine arts, but the essential need for our young people to be nurtured into more creativity.

    I really like the analogy he makes between students and computers. In his analogy, traditional education methods input raw data (memorized facts) into the student computer and expect the computer to reproduce that data. Without the arts to foster original thinking and creative processing, the students' computer has no operating system. Brilliant.

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