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A History of the West Music Catalog
By Judy Pine
9/8/2011 5:00:00 PM

West Music Company is celebrating 70 years strong this year!  Here’s some background on how the West Music Catalog Department started.

As we look into our archives the signs of a West Music catalog date back to 1967.  It was called the “Educator’s Catalog of Music Teaching Tools” for Elementary and Junior High Schools.  The main objective was to “Bring each child into full and active participation in the music program according to the level of his abilities.”  This objective is still true today! 

Products featured back then were resonator bells, melodicas, metronomes, song flutes, music staff paper by the roll, ukuleles, guitars and my favorite – the Prelude Xylophones.  The xylophone bars were made of Alcoa aluminum and weighed only 4 ½ lbs, very similar to the melody bells we sell today.

The next catalog we still have is from 1971 with the selection of rhythm instruments and drums increasing now.  Soprano recorders were available in wood and “Cycolac” a nearly indestructible material.  This substance was used to make telephones and the Pro’s football helmets, so surely these recorders were tough enough for the music classroom, too.  Autoharps of all shapes and sizes were promoted, ranging in price from $34.95 to $54.95.  Sonor Orff instruments were also introduced in this catalog with a Deep Bass xylophone selling for $150.00.

The first catalog I remember as a teacher was back in May 1979.  Only 10 pages long, it included general music education publications written by Grace Nash, Isabel Carley, Jane Frazee, Arvida Steen, Konnie Saliba, Lois Choksy and Gunild Keetman.  I remember calling in on the 800 number and ordering recorders that year, which were promptly delivered the very next week.

The spring of 1980 was the first time the West Music Catalog was mailed outside of the state of Iowa, reaching the surrounding states of MN, WI, NE, MO, IL, and SD.  The book expanded to 56 pages cover-to-cover with the inclusion of Sonor and Studio 49 Orff instruments, Remo Roto Toms, Latin Percussion and an ever expanding library of teacher resource materials.  Each year the catalog grew and changed, and in 1991 the first full color catalog was printed.  What a great response we had from our customers that year!  Each year brings new products and materials to our valued customers, with this year’s edition being 185 pages strong as well as a digital version.

As West Music marks its 70th year of providing quality music education materials and services to teachers in the US and the world – we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and comments through the years.  We’re not done yet!



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Tags: West Music catalog, catalog background, catalog history
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