Trish offers the following advice on what to consider when purchasing your equipment.
Remember to apply for a business discount card for ELC which entitles you 10% off all purchases. You will need to take proof of your business status.
For class use, lightweight and portable is the way to go. If you are going to be using an IPod for your music then there are lots of great sounding IPod docks out there that will do the job just fine in the classroom. If you go really cheap then basically you get what you pay for. So, for example, the sub £20 are generally not high quality enough to provide sufficient sound for class use. But if you look in the £20 to £60 range there are some really good ones.
IPod docks that I have used in the past or would recommend trying are:
- Gear4 Duo Portable Subwoofer Speaker Ipod Iphone Dock Docking System Station – this is powerful and also has a rechargeable battery so can be used without power if necessary (approx £50)
- Gear4 iPod iPhone 4 3G/S Speaker Dock Docking Station – Budget end, you can sometimes pick these up from £25 to £35. But it does the job.
- Gear4 Explorer-SP iPod Touch 4G iPhone 4S 4 Portable Rechargeable 3D Speaker Dock – Another rechargeable model (approx £40)
For parties, you generally need a bigger sound than these models can provide as there are up to 30 kids with their parents and so you need sufficient volume to get over them all. I find using a radio mike really helpful, but lots of franchisees do cope without it, so it is not essential.
For parties it is worth looking at mini PA systems. Some good ones to look at:
- http://www.maplin.co.uk/dj-tech-portable-pa-system-340820 – DJ Tech Portable PA System from Maplins – this is powerful and also includes a mike headset and handhelds for £129
- This one was not around when I got mine, so I use Ion IPA06 / IPA 06 Block Rocker Portable iPod PA Speaker (approx £150). Maplins supply these but they are not always the cheapest so Google for the best deals of the moment. With this model you will need a separate wireless mike unit. I use a Gemini Wireless UHF Headset Microphone System (approx £99), but any UHF headset microphone system will be fine. I would recommend a headset rather than a tie clip as we move around a lot during classes and any other sort will not stay put.
A very useful piece of software to consider is Audacity. It enables you to sample small excerpts of music and stitch them together in any way you want. It’s easy to use and very handy to make things run seemlessly in class or when doing parties and best of all it’s free to download. You can find out more and download it here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/
When you are starting out it is really easy to get a bit carried away and buy lots and lots, but in your first term you only actually need half a dozen sets of props. I would advise catering for 20 children for most things, but also have a set of ‘party’ props that you can build up to a set of 35 for bigger events.
Must have props that I could not live without are as follows:
- Parachute – large 16 handle 6m to 7m. This is great for both parties and class. Expect to pay around £50 to £70. You can normally find them on eBay, or www.bishopsport.co.uk supplies them too.
- Pom poms – Approx £2 each from www.bishopsport.co.uk, but also check your local supermarkets particularly in the summer as they often have them for sale there at this time.
- Bean bags – from 48p each. www.bishopsport.co.uk do a set of 36 mixed primary colours for £17.85.
- Shakers – Tiger Egg shakers are £1.49 per pair. You need around 10 pairs for a class of 20 so £14.90 http://www.djmmusic.com/Itemdesc.asp?ic=SHA7-CL
- A set of balls – Any smallish ball with do, bright colours are great, if they bounce even better. Lightweight skinned foam balls work well. You can buy from www.bishopsport.co.uk or www.daviesport.co.uk at reasonable prices.
- Ribbons – Brightly coloured lengths of ribbon are a fab and cheap prop for you first term. Cut ribbon to around 1m lengths for little ones to handle. Phoenix cards have a nice selection in 6M lengths and lots of lovely plain colours.
- Bubbles – The kids all love these. We currently use Gymboree bubble oodles. You can buy from www.inspiremetoys.com. Delivery can be expensive so check to see who else needs any before you order so that you get free postage.
- Hoola hoops – If you check your local supermarkets in the summer they generally stock this for around £2 each. www.bishopsport.co.uk also do them for around £1.25 each
- Chiffon scarves – also known as juggling scarves if you source on the web. Usually less than £1 each and a fab prop. Here is a supplier suggestion http://www.firetoys.co.uk/juggling/small-juggling-scarves-pack-of 16.html?utm_source=googleshopping
- Bonding ring – a nice prop to encourage whole group work. These can be bought from Bishop Sport: http://www.bishopsport.co.uk/product.asp?strParents=0&CAT_ID=0&P_ID=4564&strPageHistory=search&numSearchStartRecord=1
If you are wanting to source new instrument then eBay is great for this. Try search keywords such as children’s percussion set, kids percussion set, kids musical instruments – they usually uncover a few gems. If you need any advice on what is good and what is not you can always forward to me for an opinion. Remember that we do not use anything that goes in the mouth. Also that metal triangle sticks are not good for this age group so substitute with wooden claves if you use triangles.
Another good all round on-line supplier is DJM Music www.djmmusic.com.
In order to build up your collection cheaply, visit car boot sales and charity shops as these also normally have lots of great kid’s instruments for sale quite cheaply. Particularly good finds are Little Tikes Drums and wooden xylophones, also the Little Tikes ‘tappy’ xylophone and anything from ELC.
ELC also has a great range but I find their stuff turns up pretty regularly in boot sales and charity shops if you want to save pennies as it is quite expensive to buy new.
Avoid drums that are held together by rubber struts as these perish and the drums don’t last that long. Little Tikes drums are by far the best and are virtually unbreakable!
Beat Competency Instruments
We find claves or castanets are the best for this. DJM music are reasonable for both of these items.
- Claves from around £1.99 per set from DJM Music. This is the cheapest supplier I have currently found for these. You want Tiger claves – http://www.djmmusic.com/ItemMatrix.asp?ic=CLA7-NT&MatrixType=2
- Castanets from £1.76 each – http://www.djmmusic.com/Itemdesc.asp?ic=MP303
The best option we have found are plain primary coloured bathroom mats. This usually have a rubber backing and so are non slip and they are also washable, which means that once a term you can put them all through the washing machine.
Tesco Direct (online) and IKEA both have a nice selection for around £5 per mat. You will need around 16.
- EBay is good for picking up accident books.
- For class name labels I order from www.viking-direct.co.uk – 24,000 labels are £9.99, so these last some time! – Viking Dot Matrix Computer Label 4 Across 80 x 24 mm Viking Number Q26-V25115-4
- Cash box – The smallest you can get it best, as you really do not need a big one,
- Niceday cash box black 152 x 80 x 118 mm – Viking Number Q26-97882 – £9.99 is fine
- Storage boxes/bags for your instruments and kit. Bright and child friendly is good. I find bags easier to transport than boxes. I often use a nice bright shopping trolley for my instruments as it is really easy to get everything from place to place. Argos has a nice selection of these from around £15 each.
- Toy storage bags are available from ebay for around £5 each and are sturdy and last a while. Two should be sufficient, one for instruments and one for everything else. Or you can buy from http://www.bibelot.co.uk/shop/?ecwid_product_id=6035743#ecwid:category=0&mode=product&product=6035743
- A boards – Clear signage not only advertises your classes to passing trade, it looks professional and helps people to find you. I find A boards really useful. You can order the A2 artwork from us in the usual way, and then send it all to the company who supply the A Boards. I used – http://www.genite.co.uk/a-master-a-board.html
Laying out your merchandise table on a plain coloured tablecloth with a notice board containing class photos, your insurance and PPL licence looks nice and professional and really does not take much outlay.
- Viking do a suitable board for £14.99
- Office Depot Aluminium Frame Notice Board Blue 600H x 900Wmm
- Viking Number Q26-5372676
- With a matching plain blue tablecloth, this set up looks good. You don’t need a big cloth. This size should be fine. 54 x 54 should be fine