MusicK8: One Online Resource Every Elementary Music Teacher Should See
Apr 2, 2006 (Updated Apr 3, 2006)
MusicK8 (http://www.musick8.com/) is a Wisconsin based vendor (and publisher, Plank Road Publishing) of music and just about everything else needed by elementary and middle School music teachers, as well as their students. Like many of the best online specialty vendors on the internet, MusicK8 is as a community site too, with podcasts, a monthly print magazine, an active mailing list to discuss ideas, resources, experiences, and many other resources for teachers, both on MusicK8 and elsewhere.
I found out about MusicK8 when I noticed boxes with the MusicK8 logo in our home. My wife teaches music in elementary schools and has ordered supplies from MusicK8 a few times, some for herself and some through the school. Seeing over 900 students in a cash strapped school system each week, and then for only 30 minutes, it was important to find effective, inexpensive teaching tools and ideas, and MusicK8 has been a good resource. Further making life easier, MusicK8 was willing to accept payment after orders were submitted, requiring only a purchase order up front from the schools where the supplies were to be shipped.
At first glance, the MusicK8 storefront appears a little noisy, lots of colors, different fonts, and grade school graphics, but once you get past the initial impression, the layout turns out to be pretty efficient. Most of the sites extensive inventory and resources are no more than 2 or 3 clicks away.
In addition to a wide range of items featured on the home page, there is a list of about 20 links, to stores or "topics". The stores include, for example, Musicals and Revues (kits with Teacher's Handbook with Reproducible Student Parts & Performance/Accompaniment CD or just the handbook or cd or cassette), Classroom Games, Music Therapy, Instruments, Sheet Music, and others. Or, you can access the sites inventory and resources by starting with the Topics menu, choosing among topics like Broadway/Opera, Movement, Music Theory, Kodály, or Bulletin boards.
Descriptions of items are accurate, there are lots of sample clips (real audio and quicktime, but not windows media) for almost all the music offered on the site. The layout makes it easy to get to everything on the site, and theres are menu links on the top and bottom of every page.
MusicK8 uses the familiar shopping cart model common to most web stores. Once items added to the cart, youll have to choose to pay by credit card, or to fax or mail in your order. If you choose the fax/mail in option, you can print out your order to mail or fax it in. If you pay by credit cards, orders go through immediately.
Two purchases were made this school year by faxing in orders with Purchase Order numbers from the school system. At the beginning of the school year orders were placed for recorders (a type of flute with 8 finger holes and a whistle mouthpiece) for classes at two schools (about 150 recorders each), along with a kit containing a teachers handbook, reproducible sheet music and cd for a popular classroom learning program called Recorder Karate. In each case the orders were received at the schools about 10 days after ordering, and everything was delivered as described. Another order was made recently, using our credit card and shipped to our home. The $29 order was placed on a Thursday nite, confirmed immediately by email, processed Friday, shipped by UPS the following Tuesday and arrived at the end of that week. MusicK8 says most orders are processed and shipped within 2 business days after it is processed (M-F). Credit cards are not billed until orders ship.
Shipping was $6 for the order shipped to our home, $34 for one of the recorder orders, and $40 for the other. MusicK8 shipping rates are reasonable, but not insignificant, with the cost being based on the dollar size of the order, starting at $5 for small orders, 12% for orders size up to $100, with smaller percentages for larger orders. Our orders were shipped by UPS. Expedited shipping is available, but requires a phone call to MusicK8.
Other Site Features
- In addition owning this this web store, Plank Road Publishing also publishes a magazine bimonthly (Music K-8 Magazine) during the school that, according to the website, contains articles eight or more, never-before published works with full rights for you to photocopy them for use with your students. A cd is also available for $15.
- Theres an active forum, mailing list style, which anyone can participate in by subscribing, primarily to discuss topics from the magazine. Archives of the mailing list messages are also available on the site, even to non-subscribers. My wife has been highly appreciative of the discussions and ideas available in the archives and mailing lists.
- a large searchable idea bank driven by user contributions
- An large area covering the Recorder Karate program my wife is using this year, with photos, audio, graphics, ideas, links to songs children can download to learn on their recorders, and more. There are similar areas for other learning programs.
MusicK8 is the type of online store that typifies the best of what a web store can be. A terrific selection of products that you wouldn't find at any single B&M store, extensive digital downloads to sample the store's merchandise and publishing arm, links to outside resources, and great community forums for all the store's customers to discuss how to best use the store's offerings.