Mary Allen West

First, the backstory. For five years, I was the Director of Music/Organist for Central Congregational Church in Galesburg, Illinois. This magnificent building is on the National Register of Historic Places and tours of church are frequent. I hosted many of those tours and learned much about the people who are memorialized by the stained glass…

Walk with Me

I am glad our paths have crossed. Let’s reminisce. How did we meet?  School? Band? Church, youth group, handbells or choir?  Did we meet at a conference? Were you a subscriber to a publication or did you come to one of my concerts? Maybe you have one of my books.  Are you (were you) one…

8 Steps to Great Lessons

Whether you are just about to embark on the wonderful journey of learning music, or are continuing your studies, there are some things you can do to help make sure you will be getting the very most out of your lessons. 1.  Find the right teacher.  Sounds easy, right?  Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. …

How It Began

I’ve been blessed.  Seriously.  Not everybody gets to love what they do as much as I do.  I’ve taught private music lessons (piano, organ, voice and theory) since 1972.  There have been many years — and I do mean many years — I’ve also served as a church musician.  I’ve been the organist, the pianist,…

Spring (close enough) Cleaning

Greetings, all. My website (gailmasinda.com) and all associated Maestro Heights postings are getting a major overhaul and update. If I understand what I think I know (!) those of you who get email notifications when I publish a new post could get multiple notices as some items are converted from one format to another. Yeah,…

“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”

Make a stand (idiom) definition – Adopt a firm position about an issue. Hold firm, as in hold the ground against an enemy. -Merriam-Webster In 1858, Dudley Atkins Tyng was a 29-year-old Episcopalian pastor and abolitionist. Not everyone in his Philadelphia church agreed with his straightforward doctrinal preaching and position against slavery and he resigned…

Practice Space

Finding time for music practice is tough. Finding space is equally tough but often overlooked. The oft-quoted real estate phrase of “location, location, location” has merit in selecting a space for music practice, too. My friends, I have heard far too many well-meaning-but-cringe-worthy stories about where my students practice. Some real-life examples: “We put the…

Music Room Skill Sets 1-5

The first five Music Room Skill Sets are now available! The story line running through the entire series is based on my actual students, past and present. Their questions, situations and gentle humor are very real making it easy for students to relate to the Music Room characters. I have lost track of how many…

Mini Course: The Story of the Pipe Organ

It’s the story of one of the oldest instruments and, until relatively recently, the mankind’s most complex machine. A great printable lesson is available. No previous music is needed for this unit study. A complete lesson plan is provided. Videos provide additional audio and visual support for the lesson and required to complete some of…

Mini-Course: How Do Organ Pipes Work?

“Why are there so many pipes?” “But how come you sit over here and the sound comes out over there?” “Why are those pipes so big?” “Why are those pipes so tiny?” “Why are some of the pipes made from metal and others are made from wood?” “How long do pipes last?” Right after the…

1912 M.P. Moller, Avon Federated Church, Avon, Illinois

The first settlers in Avon, Illinois, arrived in 1835. In just twenty years, the area grew enough to have a post office, changed its name twice, saw the building of a branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) and formed several churches. Among those fellowships were a Universalist Church and a Congregational Church….

The Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris Pipe Organ

The world watched in frozen horror as news broadcasts showed a fire blazing through the Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019. The fate of the historic building and its contents hung in the balance. The damage was extensive, yet somehow, miraculously even, some things survived. Among the remaining treasures in the cathedral is the…