Monday, August 1, 2011

Young Music Genius and Musical Me HD

I may make several postings today. Never fear, I won't always be so verbose. Right now I have a bit of time for researching and writing. When school starts, that likely won't be the case and the number of posts will decrease. You know how things go.

Recently I've learned about a couple of iPad apps I'd like to share with you.

Young Music Genius: Classical Wiz - This is a free app which was shared with me by my school's ESL teacher. It introduces children to instruments, composers, and well-known pieces of music. There are several parts of the app.

  • Learning - Learn the sound of the instruments by touching the instrument picture. You can also touch a composer picture to hear one of the pieces he composed (Yes, they are all the "dead white guy" composers). For instance, if you touch Haydn, you hear the Surprise Symphony. Brahms plays Hungarian Dance No. 5.
  • Games -  The instrument quiz shows four pictures of instruments and plays the sound of one of them. You are to tap the instrument you hear. The same goes for the composer quiz. The app shows four composer pictures and plays a piece of music. You are to tap the correct composer. There is also a memory matching game. There are easy and hard levels of the games, but honestly, I can't tell the difference between the levels. 
  • Progress - This feature keeps track of the the player's achievements in the app: Master Learner - Played all sounds in the learning section, Instrument Desciple - Played all instrument sounds. I don't see any way of resetting this information and can't see how it would be all that useful if the app is being used by more than one user.
  • Kids' Music Store -  You can purchase and download albums or individual pieces of the composers highlighted in the app. Be sure to use a safe password and/or don't store your credit card number in the store if you don't want children to "accidentally" buy the music.

Musical Me HD - This app was developed by Duck Duck Moose. They have several other good apps for young children that are worth exploring. The app costs $1.99. There are several different areas of this app.

  • Dance - The first segment is some "monsters" that can be manipulated to dance with well-known children's songs: Skip to My Lou, Farmer in the Dell, etc. Not terribly educational, but sort of fun for kids.
  • Rhythm - This segment requires you to tap the birds as they fly by. Each will play a note of a children's song. If you don't start on the first bird, it does not work well though and you don't complete the song before running out of birds and the rhythm is off. The little ones like it though.
  • Memory - The screen is outer space with three planets. The planets are different solfege pitches which plays a melody. You are supposed to remember the melody and tap it back (sort of like the old Simon game). The problem with this portion is that the pitches are not played in relation to the scale. For instance, it may play Do, Mi, Mi. The pitches sound correct, but the Do planet looks higher than Mi planet on the screen. Additionally, Do is on the right side of the screen and Mi is on the left side of the screen.
  • Notes - Notes are shown on the treble staff and you can manipulate them to change the melody or you can tap the notes to play what is already on the staff. This looks to be the most useful portion of this app for use in the classroom.
  • Instruments - Children can tap on different instruments to make them play while children's songs play. There are egg shakers, maracas, cymbals, snare drum, triangle, and a squeaky rubber duck. You could use this to have kids demonstrate the beat of the song.
This isn't the most musically accurate app for teaching about music, but my three-year-old girls like to play around with it. I can see possibilities of using the Notes portion with primary students. I would probably avoid using the other areas of the app in the classroom for the reasons I listed above.

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