The following list and annotations of world music instrument vendors should be helpful to teachers at all educational levels. The list begins with general suppliers, before moving to some more specific instrument categories.
In general the best method of finding a high quality instrument (e.g. caxixi or a set of agogo bells) would be to travel to the country of origin (Brazil) and make your selection in person. However, assuming travel is out of the question, these vendors can be trusted to give you a decent quality instrument. In addition, many of these sites offer a plethora of pictures and sound recordings, so even if you're not in the market for a new set of bagpipes you can still spend hours (or more likely seconds) listening to and learning about the sounds of the highlands. Finally, it's important to note that this list is not comprehensive, but rather offers a number of starting points from which you can gradually immerse yourself in world instrumet culture.
II. General Music Vendors
Lark in the Morning
Lark In The Morning, located in Mendocino, California, carries almost anything you'll ever want for a world ensemble. If you are searching for a bullroarer or a Greek bouzouki they will have those instruments. The web site is easy to navigate and the staff is helpful if you call for more information. They also carry an exhaustive catalog of recording and video for learning more about the instruments and music that interests you. Lark In The Morning can meet many of your world music needs.
Ethnic Musical Instruments
EMI is similar to Lark In The Morning, but has less of a variety of instruments available for consumers. They make up for this deficiency by offering more exotic accessories, including belly dancer apparel and authentic goat skin drum heads. EMI also offers relatively in-depth histories of the instruments on their site.
Based in Melbourne, Florida Mid-East Music is the site to go to for Middle Eastern instruments. The staff is helpful and eager to help you find exactly the right instrument. Based on personal experience in dealing with the company they offer a good selection of many types of world music instruments and supplies. If nothing else, the gigantic lexicon of instruments on the front page might be of some help.
Early Music Shop
The Early Music Shop specializes in European instruments from the Medieval through Baroque periods, especially recorders and keyboards. However, it also has a decent collection of folk and world wind instruments. Everything made in the EMS is of a superior quality (but be warned: with quality comes priciness).
Your World Instruments
Your World Instruments offers many of the same items as other companies on this list. What makes their website particularly noteworthy is the abundance of embedded videos and pages worth of buying/tuning/maintenance advice for most of their instruments. Click on any of the names to the left of the site, then scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page!
TablaSitar specializes in all musical things Indian. This company has a wide variety of string instruments from which to choose. The Rabab link will take you to the site where you can search for other string instruments from India.
Celtic Harps is the web site of Rick Stanley, maker of high quality harps. These instruments are handcrafted pieces of art, which is probably why Rick includes detailed information on how he constructs them (which might be of interest to harp enthusiasts). If you're suitably impressed, especially after watching one of the many videos on the site, you can even buy a CD or two of Irish harp music.
The Klezmer Shack made this list mostly because of its name, but it does have some valuable information about Israeli and other instruments. It is not itself an instrument site… actually it's more like a personal blog. Nevertheless it has annotated links to a variety of valuable sites selling dulcimers, harps, tsimbls, and other string instruments. The Klez Shack also features a list of bands, records, books, organizations, and an A-Z of Jewish music.
If you're looking for a high-end Tin or Penny whistle, the Michael Burke Penny Whistle Company is a great place to begin the search. The company offers a selection of whistles, as well as a couple of tunebooks and guides (as well as the obligae CD or two). One important point is that these whistles are not cheap in quality or price.
If you want to get in touch with your Scottish ancestry, visit Henderson's Complete Pipe and Drum Supply. Based in Michigan (!) Henderson's offers an unbeatable collection of bagpipes and accessories. Henderson’s also carries a large selection of supplies for pipe drums and traditional regalia absolutely necessary before being seen in public with your bagpipes.
If you're in the market for a duduk (an Armeniam relative of the shawm) visit duduk.com, which has a large selection of hand-crafted instruments made by Albert Vardanyan. Repair parts, educational resources and recordings are all also available from the site. Though the website may look plain and uninteresting at first, if you click the tabs at the top of the page you'll be redirected to a veritable wealth of information about Anatolean wind instruments.
No collection of wind instruments would be complete without mention of didgeridoos. Here are some of our favorite didge sites.
The first comes from our friends at Mid-East Music: an economically-priced, PVC didgeridoo. It sounds marginally better than a kitchen sink.
Didgeridoo number two is from LA Outback, a shop in Los Angeles, CA that specializes in these instruments. The shop has a good selection of quality beginner didgeridoos, as well as an in-depth didge history, guides to purchasing the right instrument, and of course DVDs and CDs. Even if you're not in the market for a didgeridoo, this site is interesting for its educational content.
Buying a professional quality didgeridoo can be time consuming, maybe even involving a long flight to Australia. To avoid the added expense one can purchase a didge from the creatively named Didgeridoo Store.
Cooperman Frame and Hand Drums
If you're searching for high quality frame and hand drums, look no further than Essex, Connecticut, home to Cooperman Drums. Cooperman drums are some of the most well-designed and crafted drums in the world, and are trusted by a number of innovative artists in the fields of world and crossover percussion. Best of all, the website is loaded with pictures and video demonstrations, which from an educational standpoint gives you a better understanding of how these drums are used in their indigenous cultures.
Steve Weiss Drumming
If you wish to create a Samba School (Escola de Samba) look no further then Steve Weiss Music. In fact, to save yourself a lot of time, try Steve Weiss first for almost everything in percussion, world or traditional.
Wula African Drum Store
West African dance drumming has become a part of American culture from grade schools to drum circles. As was discussed in the previous annotation, Steve Weiss is an excellent first stop for most percussion needs, but Wula offers djembes, dunduns, bells and balafons of comparable quality. If you're serious about buying something, we'd suggest contacting Michael Markus.
Mannette Steel Drums
Steel Drum resources are legion, and everyone that works in the field has their favorite builder. Ellie Mannette has a world-class reputation as a builder and innovative designer of steel pans; his collaboration with the University of West Virginia has raised the bar in steel drum production and performance at the collegiate level.
The Sunreed company offers an ecletic collection of world instruments, but one thing that caught our eyes was the Native American collection (drums, accessories, literature, etc.). While the website is not the most organized, the wealth of color pictures makes it a a good stop on the world music tour of the internet, regardless of whether you actually choose to buy something. As a New Age aside, Sunreed also sells a variety of Singing Bowls.
VI. Instrument Instruction
It is relatively easy to find recordings and online instruction for most of the ethnic instruments studied in this seminar. These general instrument websites have many good recordings and instructional videos. However, it must be said that a DVD can never replace live student-teacher interaction.