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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 - Fred Omega Pye's Ma...
    by ★ Owner on November 19, 2010 at 8:06 AM
    3045 Views - 0 Comments

    In my days at Penn State, a very unique alumni of my chapter of Phi Mu Alpha lived in State College and visited chapter functions on a semi-regular basis. His name is Fred Omega Pye (which I always thought was the perfect name for someone who is a member of a fraternity with greek letters). I had never seen Fred perform, but stories of his prowess with anything that spins (batons, sabers, rifles, and the drum major's mace) were lefendary. Fred is now the color guard coordinator for the UMass Minutemen Marching Band, one of the premiere college bands in the country. The recent loss of iconic director George N. Parks has brought the band a bit more attention than usual. In the midst of it all, Fred recently posted this video from 2009 of his mace salute. I appreciate the opportunity to finally see FOP do his stuff. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances - Jonathan Conducts B...
    by ★ Owner on October 29, 2010 at 10:13 PM
    3057 Views - 0 Comments

    This video is hot right now - making the rounds on Facebook. And there's a very good reason - this three-year-old's musical instincts as he conducts the fourth movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony are uncanny. There are adults who study for years to anticipate the score and achieve the level of expression that this young man achieves. He does remind us, however, that he is only three when he gets an itchy nose, shouts out "This is my FAVORITE PART!" just after the 3 minute mark, and his grand finale complete with giggles when he loses grip on his baton. Sheer joy in music, and uncanny musicianship at the same time. Enjoy.

  • Great Performances - McChesney Trombone ...
    by ★ Owner on October 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM
    2124 Views - 0 Comments

    Back in high school, during my formative exposure to jazz music via my two best friends from concert band (both saxophonists), I was introduced to two amazing artistic talents: Charlie Parker, and the Parker tribute band known as Supersax. Parker, one of the innovators that ushered in the be bop era of jazz music, was known for his technical pyrotechnics on the alto saxophone. Supersax took Parker's transcribed solos and arranged them for the sax section of a big band (two altos, two tenors, and a bari), turning Parker's genius into a stereophonic voice with 5-part harmony at 200+ beats per minute. This Great Performance reminds me a lot of those early days of my jazz exposure. Vituoso jazz trombonist Bob McChesney arranged the Cole Porter tune "I Love You" for four trombones and then recorded his performance of all four parts. The accuracy and virtuosity of this recording is astounding, and following McChesney's score on the screen as he plays is equally as impressive as listening to old recordings of Bird and following along in the Omnibook.

  • Student Project: Virtual Instruments and...
    by ★ Owner on October 26, 2010 at 11:11 AM
    2549 Views - 0 Comments

    As we approach the end of the first marking period, the high school students in my Digital Music Composition class are trying their hands at their first true creative composition assignment using MixCraft5. They had to create their own drum loops using virtual instruments, then select loops to create a song with a two measure intro, A-B-A form, and a two measure outro. The only other requirement was to apply at least one effect to either the entire project (global) or to an individual track. This student's work is a great example of what happens when you give someone with some music performing experience, intelligence, and a sense of musicality a tool like MixCraft. The student told me that the part he had the most trouble with was transitioning from the A section to the B section in a musical way, since loops end ubruptly and are designed to be repeated. I can't wait to get them to the point where they are writing all original material!

  • You've Got A Friend In Me; MaxQ
    by ★ Owner on October 17, 2010 at 7:52 AM
    2553 Views - 0 Comments

    I love a cappella singing of all kinds. I caught the close harmony bug as a kid because my dad was actively involved in SPEBSQSA, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. When my dad was active in my youth, barbershop was all about ringing major chords and dominant 7ths in a distinctly identifiable style. Many songs from outside the traditional folk songs and pop tunes of the turn-of-the-century were "made shoppable", but quartets stuck closely to what defined barbershop as an original American art form.



    In today's highly competitive Barbershop Harmony Society, the top quartets and choruses sing at a professional level and the members of those groups must be high aptitude singers who are able to devote hours of practice a week. They continue to perform music that fits the criteria for "barbershop," but that criteria has loosened a bit because the modern quartets are capable of so much more technical wizardry than their predecessors. As it is with all things, the art form has evolved.



    This is a video of 2007 quartet champions MaxQ at the Gold Medal hour, an informal sing for past champions, at the 2008 Barbershop Harmony Society Convention.




    This video demonstrates the vocal skill and range of all four men, their ability to seamlessly switch in a blink from a support role to the lead, their ability to ring tight jazz chords with added tensions that would never be heard of a barbershop competition stage, and their ability even in a casual perofrmance such as this to be entertaining and very aware of their presentation. And who doesn't like a good Randy Newman song? Makes ya smile! :-)

  • Great Performances - Gershwin Plays I Go...
    by ★ Owner on September 27, 2010 at 7:41 AM
    2232 Views - 0 Comments

    Here is some rare footage of the incomparable George Gershwin performing one of his best known compositions "I Got Rhythm" from the Broadway show Girl Crazy in 1930, which is the same show that spawned another Gershwin hit "Embracable You." With technical ability like this, it is easy to see how Gershwin could produce a composition like the fabled "Rhapsody in Blue." Special thanks to my sister for sending me this rare footage via Facebook.

  • Great Performances - OK, Go White Knuckl...
    by ★ Owner on September 21, 2010 at 9:07 PM
    1689 Views - 0 Comments

    OK, Go is at it again. The quartet is out with a new enrapturing music video. This one is done in one take with a stationary camera and amazing coordination between the performers, the crew, and the trained dogs. As is true with their other music, I find it to have a good bit of quality music making in it, but find the songs to be fairly forgettable. The videos they create totally suck you in, however. I really appreciate the creativity that their videos showcase. Can you imagine what the sketchboarding for this video looked like? "And then we stack some plastic trash cans like those cup stacking competitions, and then a trained dog jumps through it and over the camera, and then...." Let's hear it for creativity!

  • Great Performances - Gustavo Dudamel Dan...
    by ★ Owner on September 20, 2010 at 9:13 PM
    2296 Views - 0 Comments

    If you are not familiar with Gustavo Dudamel, the Sim?n Bol?var Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, and El Sistema, take a look at this amazing performance. The first time I was exposed to Ginastera's Danza Finale was the rendition that the Phantom Regiment drum and bugle corps put on the field in 1993. I loved it then, but this performance of the original orchestral work is not only musically excellent, but it encapsulates the spirit of the composition. Seeing Dudamel conduct in person is definitely on my to-do list.

  • Ben Cameron On The New Performing Arts R...
    by ★ Owner on September 10, 2010 at 9:46 PM
    2098 Views - 0 Comments

    Once again, another fantastic talk has become available from - this time, the speaker is Ben Cameron, Program Director, Arts, at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York, where he supervises a $13 million grants program aimed at the theatre, contemporary dance, jazz and presenting fields. In this video, Cameron discusses how the explosion in digital and internet technologies has threatened the performing arts industry and yet has set the stage for a new cultural revolution. Cameron compares today's arts revolution to the religious revolution of the 16th century. They share many points in common: the religious revolution was a product of a sudden increase in technology in the form of the printing press; the religious revolution made information available to the masses rather than controlled by an institution; the religious revolution did not result in the end of institutional religions, but their role had to change. In much the same way, we are experiencing a cultural revolution in the performing arts. Digital technology has made it possible for anyone to become an author, a music composer, a choreographer, a movie director. The internet has made it possible for anyone to distribute their artistic creations to an international audience. Cameron quoted others saying "The means of artistic production and distribution have been democratized for the first time in history... Who doesn't know a fourteen-year-old who is hard at work on her second or third movie?" Cameron states quite accurately, in my opinion, that our culture is shifting from being arts consumers to being arts participants. He mentioned a phrase I had not heard before - this cultural shift is bringing us "Pro-Am's" (Professional Amateurs). Cameron sees the traditional performing arts institutions in desperate need of making the shift to becoming what he calls hybrid artists: people or institutions who create art for civic change. "...making art together to bind a community of disparate citizens to social change." This, in my experience, is spot on. Music education is in the same boat - if we as a profession do not find ways to connect to the entire student body and provide ways for students to create and perform music they can relate to, we are performing ourselves right out of a job. Some other great quotes from this talk: "To conspire literally means to breathe together." "The arts invite us to look at our fellow human being with generosity and curiosity." "We are bound together by commmon cause, to promote a more thoughtful, substantive, empathic world order." Take about fifteen minutes to listen to this dynamic speaker.

  • Why Online Education Is Inevitable
    by ★ Owner on August 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM
    1882 Views - 0 Comments

    I teach in a unique hybrid arts program attached to a K-12 Cyber Charter school. I see the majority of my students in person twice a week, and they take the rest of their coursework at home online the other three days of the week. This is a growing trend that, from my personal experience with it, will eventually be going international. This video does a pretty good job of explaining why. I am very excited to be a part of the shift that is bringing education into the 21st century.

  • World Champion Baton Twirler Stacy Singe...
    by ★ Owner on August 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM
    3984 Views - 2 Comments

    I am always impressed and admiring of any kind of performer, musical or otherwise, who demonstrates a high level of commitment to developing an expressive, skillful, and breathtaking performance. This video demonstrates all of those qualities in spades.


    Stacy Singer is originally from Canada. This video is a recording of her winning performance as a junior soloist at the World Baton Twirling Federation World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1989. She was 12 years old at the time. She is currently a botanist working for the U.S. Department of Agrigulture [link]


    Not only is her precision and athleticism impressive, but she obviously worked very hard on timing her catches and expressive presentation to match the music. Often, solo baton twirlers' presentations are just a series of impressive tricks that have little integration with the music. Stacy's work here is an exception to that tendency. Enjoy.


  • Part 2 - Managing the Information Stream...
    by ★ Owner on July 30, 2010 at 2:47 PM
    2161 Views - 0 Comments

    Part 2 of Managing the Information Stream on the Music Professional Learning Network. Please note: this video is best viewed in fullscreen mode. See part 1 here:

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