Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
Encourage kids to use the "Basics" and "Theory" sections to reinforce concepts from their personal or classroom music experiences. Teachers might also use the "Music History" or "Cultures and Styles" units as a text for a music-appreciation course or as a unit in a larger arts curriculum. These two units in particular are jam-packed with cultural and historical information.Continue reading Show less
iTooch Music is a lesson and quiz resource for building kids' knowledge of music history and theory. The app includes four units: "The Basics," "Theory," "Cultures and Styles," and "History." Each unit includes several sections that range from basic information to intermediate and advanced topics, and each unit concludes with a comprehensive review section.
Within each section, users can explore lesson text, answer practice quiz questions, and switch to test mode to receive a grade and earn points. As kids advance through the app, their cartoon avatars earn different martial arts-style belts. Meanwhile, each time kids log in they earn a daily reward, where they play a scratch-off game to win "power-ups" they can use to get hints or take shortcuts in quizzes. While the belts' progression and the app's points system aren't fully explained, it feels good to earn these rewards, especially since they're tied so closely to the game's learning content.
The only real drawback to the app is its inconsistent navigation. The progress bar in test mode is straightforward; however, in practice mode, a different system of graphics is used. Oddly, there's also a drawing feature. Kids can click on a pencil at the bottom of the screen to reveal a chalkboard screen. While this feature probably works well in the developer's other apps (especially those for math), it's just puzzling in this context. In addition, while the language is fresh and relevant, the photos and images look oddly dated, especially on an iPad and even after a recent update. The lower production value of these images undermines the otherwise excellent learning content on display here.
There's a nice mix of fun and serious content. In the practice questions and test mode, the cartoon avatar cheers at correct answers and rolls his eyes at mistakes, while in the lessons, the content is serious and includes useful charts of different musical instruments, voice types, and music theory terms. Longer narrative sections describe famous figures from music history, from Beethoven to Billie Holiday. Some information in the lessons may be a bit dense for beginners. Detailed information about major music theory concepts might be most useful as a supplement to regular music classes rather than as a stand-alone teaching tool. That being said, enough thoughtful, well-written content is provided that kids could use this for months as a resource for reference, reading, and inspiration. Sight-reading, pitch-matching, and rhythm sections are especially well done.