I hope this list of “Do's, Don’ts, and Dreams!” helps you when you order and I REALLY hope that you’ll chime in at the end of the post and offer your comments. I’ve found more amazing products/instruments/books from talking with other music teachers and networking than I ever found by ordering on my own. I’d love your thoughts! What should I buy next time? What do you think is really worth it? Let me know!
Blogger friends, want to chime in? I made a link up option at the end of this post if you'd like to give your thoughts about what to buy/avoid/dream of.
Click the name of the item to follow a link to its description on the West Music website page. Click on the image to enlarge.
Do's - Things worth buying
(Item# 400278) $2.25
If we’re talking recorder and you’re on a budget then DO get the West Music Recorder. It’s three piece, it comes with an awesome free cloth bag, and it really does sound good. My students had been playing on Tudor brand recorders for the last few years and these West recorders really do sound pretty good in comparison. Mostly, I like that they’re cheap but not cheap. You know what I mean? They don’t cost much but they’re not flimsy. I feel like I can trust West brand and can trust that West will stand behind these recorders if I have troubles in the future.
(Item #s Alto: 400224, Tenor: 400222) $50 $29
When I decided that I wanted to buy a tenor/alto recorder I went to my source, my Orff Level I instructors. Dr. Rob Amchin, an awesome teacher… check out his YouTube page, chimed in and said that he buys Aulos brand. These recorders have been fantastic and aren’t too expensive. The Tenor is $50 and the Alto $29. Compare this to Yamaha’s 300 series Tenor $66 and Alto $28. Comparable price and even a little cheaper but a really good quality.
(Item# 200924) $118.30
I was able to get this through a DonorsChoose project and I’m soooooooo happy about it. I use these drums all the time for songs, games, and more. They’re relatively easy to store (they next together) and seem to be quite durable and tough. I’m not worried about giving them to even my most ornery students. The different sizes allow you to have different sounds and are great for students to get a variety of experiences (they love switching drums). Totally worth the money. Buy them as a set or buy them individually.
This little handy item sits under your claves and makes the sound of the clave more brilliant and the playing much easier. It’s the coolest little adaptation for little hands. I have wondered a few times whether I could make something like this myself, but I think it might just be easier to buy this $5 version.
Is my student part of the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble? Have they just been accepted to the New York Phil. Percussion section? No? Then a cheap triangle will likely be just as good as the hoity toity, expensive version. I don’t need to pay an extra $20 for a fancy stand or special brand name triangle. I teach 8 year olds. They will not appreciate the subtle differences in triangle brands. Buy the cheap one. This goes for wood blocks, cowbells, and rhythms sticks as well. Save your pennies for other things.
This is so cool for sound effects and adding into ensembles or ostinati. It’s fun, it makes a cool sound, and the kids love it! I’ve used it as an attention grabber, as a sound effect during Halloween storytelling, and more. Worth it. Not that expensive.
This is next on my list of sound effect/cool instruments to have. The kids will do anything to play it and it will add a lot if you bring it in at the right times. It’s a fun addition to make to your ensemble and again, not all that expensive.
There are three different sizes of Slapstick available to buy from West. I listed the 15” here. I’m not sure if one size would be better or worse than another. Again, cool. Worth it.
Bam. These are awesome. Buy a class set. West sells normal eggs (pastel colors I think) or these awesome glow in the dark eggs. GLOW IN THE DARK?!? Seriously, class set. Worth it.
If you want to start doing more folk dancing but want some help along the way this book is a great one to have. It comes with a CD and has some great instructions inside to help you get your kids moving. The New England Dance Masters really are masters and this resource is a good place to start if you want to look through their stuff.
(Item# 839232) $34
This book has a ton of ideas for using manipulatives and has exciting lesson plans and extension ideas. Artie Almeida is a fantastic author and her lessons are easy to do, easy to manipulate, and super super fun for the kids. I love doing the movement activity with the Nutcracker Trepak song. Great for listening with good music and moving!
These books are lifesavers for the teacher who wants to incorporate Orff instruments but maybe doesn’t have a lot of training on how to use them. They make it easy for you to add in some mallet lessons and give you lots of ideas on how to teach basic concepts using barred percussion.
This book is perfect if you want some basic exercises to get started and to get kids going on recorder. This is a good primary resource to start with and oh, so, CHEAP! Get the accompaniment CD for $12. Book two is only $3.50
Great for subs, great for inside recess, great for reinforcing rhythm/drumming and other concepts. Kids love it, it’s fun, it’s a great extension and gets kids thinking about what really makes music (and how you can use ANYTHING to make music). This is one of their best and is also pretty inexpensive here.
Large and laminated pictures of the Curwen hand signs that are used all around the globe. You could totally make your own versions of these, but it’s only $8. If you’ve got a few dollars left over while you’re ordering and can sneak these in your order, do it. Totally worth it!
(Item# 852820) $29
Reading Rainbow reads the famous book, illustrates and animates it, and also features performances by the Julliard YOUTH orchestra (our kids get to see other kids playing) and STOMP. Well worth it. Perfect for those of us in 30 minute classroom settings. My friend Ladonna Flippin (another fabulous music teacher in my district) uses this and other Reading Rainbow recordings and highly recommended it to me. It's a great resource!
Dont's - save your pennies for other things...
These drums are not as cool as the Tunable Tubanos. I have a friend in the district whose principal decided to buy her a whole class set of large tubanos but because she wanted to save some money decided to buy the pre-tuned and not the tunable drums. The pre-tuned are a lot cheaper but my friend who has to live with them every day says that they are not as versatile, do not sound as good, and are harder to maintain. I have the tunable tubanos, this is the 100 series (not a class set, but I have about 3-4 of varying sizes) and they have been amazing. I’ll say that any time I go to a conference, see presenters, or watch videos of drum teachers that I really respect they have the tunable drums (100 series) and not the pretuned (50 series that you see here). Seems like the tunable drums are worth the extra money.
The teacher before me used budgetary money to buy this, I think. It’s NOT WORTH IT! The sound is okay and works for an effect but it’s not the “gong” sound that you’re thinking of. It’s more tinny and a smaller sound. If you want a traditional gong sound then stick with something like the Dream Chao Gong (Item# 204313). With something like a gong, or temple blocks, or drums go with the name brand. It’s probably worth it.
This was another “bought before I got to the building” purchase that I don’t think I’ve ever had kids use to play. I use them sometimes when I try and show how sound changes with different sizes (e.g. soprano, alto, tenor, bass, etc) but I don’t think that’s worth $92 (especially for only 5!). They’re cool and if I had a million dollars to use for my room I’d buy a whole set, but I think my resources would have been used better elsewhere.
“Kid” drums are not meant for public school classrooms I think. They’re hard to share, they’re small, they aren’t as durable as other items. Save your money and buy the larger more durable drums. These seem to be “made for preschool” or adaptive classrooms. These do not seem to be meant for public school classrooms with large class sizes. Any thoughts on these? I have about 3-4 from the previous teacher and it doesn’t seem like they’re all that usable for us.
Need a border for your bulletin boards? Don’t buy them here. You can buy musical borders from Hobby Lobby, Michaels, US Toy, Lakeshoare Learning and basically anywhere else. These are expensive and with shipping, well… get them anywhere else. :D The only one that I would possibly get is the musical symbols bulletin board liner (Item# 530324) but that’s still $10 and still probably not worth it.
Dreams - If I had unlimited funds
These flipforms are soooooooooo cool. They are risers, a stage, and a platform all in one. They are easy to move, they look really cool, and they adapt to fit the situation that you need it for. You can buy the set of four or you can buy they one at a time. You can also buy a version in grey or in all black. Can you see why this is on my dream list? Ugh! If only…
A 7'8" x 10'9" rug. This is such a cool thing to be used in an elementary classroom. I’ve seen is used for note identification (for games) for normal seating, to separate space, and you can even buy a “bass clef” add on to teach treble or bass clef. Can you see why this is also on my dream wishlist? :D
If I had endless money I would buy all of these. They’re really cool illustrated books that go along with songs that many of us teach. “There’s a Hole in the Bucket” “The Derby Ram” “My Aunt Came Back” and more. Check them out. If you can get one or two or five, they are worth it! I’ve looked over them at West Music booths at conferences and I’ve loved them. Especially as we get more and more pressured to incorporate literature into our rooms, these are a god-send. $16.95 each or $130 for the whole set. Bam!
(Item# 852330) $149
This compilation has 134 folk dances on 6 DVDs, has instructional strategies, and also has a section where students in a mixed-age group demonstrate what the folk dance looks like. Ever go to a conference where the group demonstrates or a place where you get direct instruction about how to do a folk song/dance? Well, this is the DVD, bottled-up version of that and it comes from Phyllis Weikart (who is an authority on folk dance).
This is a complete set of 9 different CDs that have folk music and accompaniment to go with a ton of different dance styles and activities. It’s a great place to get started and awesome for those of you who want to have a recorded track to move to and authentic music to hear when you’re teaching.
If you’d like to have more posts like this let me know in the comments below and tell me what subjects you’d like to hear more about. What instruments to buy? What methods books to use? What would you like to hear about?
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