Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2016
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iTooch Music

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Charming visuals, challenging quizzes build solid musical knowledge

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-9
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: In-depth lessons on music history, world music, and theory make this a stellar tool for instrumentalists, singers, and music-appreciation students.

Cons: Audio player controls behave inconsistently, and the rainbow-colored lesson text can be a bit hard to read. A feature to save lesson text for offline viewing would be helpful.

Bottom Line: iTooch Music is a terrific reference and review tool for beginning to advanced music students.

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.

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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. 

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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.

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Overall Rating

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

Some navigation issues and dated visuals aside, students will enjoy exploring simple and advanced music topics through consistently challenging quizzes.

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

Practice quizzes and test mode feature a good range of tasks and significant depth.

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

Intuitive navigation options and a flexible settings menu let users customize their experiences.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kristin L. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Interactive Musical Engagement, Enlightenment and More...

I think this is a great teaching tool. Teaching music history can be tough with younger students as their attention and engagement quickly fades. iTooch gave a new prescriptive on topics and was a fun and different way to supplement the classroom material. While I definitely feel that technology should NOT replace hands-on experience and real life conversations this was a great way to break free from the traditional music classroom and enjoy a little technology and allowed for differentiation.

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