Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2016
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Easy Music - Give kids an ear for music

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Music-exploration app offers great balance of play and guidance

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Grades
Pre-K-2 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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5 images

Pros: Great sound quality and fun visuals make music come alive.

Cons: The music theory games can get repetitive.

Bottom Line: Great, easily accessible approach to building the foundations for musical literacy.

Since there's a logical progression through the four sets of 25 levels, make sure to set up individual user accounts for each kid. The parent and teachers' guide has some excellent information about the learning theory behind the games and goes into detail about what kids do on the different levels. Teachers should read it all so they know what kids are doing. Set kids up by demonstrating what the app does and make sure they understand how to play the games. Set them free to explore on their own, but check in every once in a while to see that they're not stuck or just randomly tapping their way through. Teachers can also do lots to help kids expand their musical literacy beyond the app. Explore the musical themes with simple instruments or even just by clapping hands. Play music and guide kids to listen intentionally by pointing out the different instruments you hear, for example, or picking out the beat from the melody.

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Easy Music combines guided practice games and open-ended free play to introduce kids to some musical basics. Start by exploring beat, rhythm, pitch, or melody; a different animal leads each category and guides kids through 25 levels that increase in difficulty. For instance, repeat the whale's song by tapping on the underwater vents to match its pattern of different pitches. Once kids have some practice under their belts, they put it all together in learning to play a familiar song such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on a keyboard, first by tapping on shaded keys in song sections and then by playing the whole song from memory. Or visit the composition area where kids choose from three musical genres in which they combine beats, tap out melodies, and add their own voice. Tap the record button to save up to one minute of a musical masterpiece. Teachers can create up to 40 individual user accounts and track progress through the levels for each account.

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Enter a wonderland where everything is musical, from the clapping bear to the tapping fox to the crabs skittering across the sand. Through a balanced combination of guided practice and open-ended free play, kids can experience and explore both musical foundations and a polished final product. Each game by itself can get repetitive, but since there are four of them, and kids are free to choose what they want to do, it shouldn't be too tedious. The games also rely quite heavily on remembering short sequences, so kids will put their working memory skills to the test. The compose section is a bit more advanced than many other similar functions in other apps: Kids can add their own voice, combine preset backbeats with a tune they tap out themselves, and record it all. On the downside, kids who don't get it may not get enough support, and in some games, kids can pass levels by accident without actually understanding what they're doing. But overall, this is an excellent creative platform for teaching solid music foundations and empowering kids to express themselves through music.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Appealing kid-friendly animals and graphics inspire music creation. A variety of ways to interact keeps kids curious to try more.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids practice basic musical concepts such as pitch, melody, beat, and rhythm through trial and error in four leveled games. The open studio lets kids take charge as they put it all together.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Each game is clearly explained by a helpful dragonfly. A learning guide in the parents' section details the learning theories behind the app's development, demonstrates how to play, and offers learning extensions.


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