Review by Kim Alessi, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2012
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My First Classical Music App HD

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Inviting, interactive app makes learning classical music fun

Subjects & skills
  • Arts
  • Social Studies

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Pros: Engaging, interactive interface, easy navigation, and superb audio samples make for great listening and learning.

Cons: Featured composers are all white males and represent an already stereotyped genre; would benefit by adding female and non-European composers.

Bottom Line: My First Classical Music App is a great interactive introduction to the Western classical music tradition.

Use the app's audio samples and guided listening to help demystify the complexities of classical music and its many moods. The app particularly shines in its analysis of programmatic music, such as Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals," Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," and Holst's "The Planets." Kids will greatly benefit from a conversation about what defines music as "classical." Is it instrumentation, compositional style, intended audience or performance space, country of origin? 

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My First Classical Music App HD is an interactive reference app showcasing composers, instruments, and audio samples of Western classical music. Kids begin at the Contents page, where they'll find a Welcome page (which describes how the app works) and a list of eight composers, 19 orchestral instruments, and five places where classical music is often heard. More than 40 high-quality music samples are linked to corresponding content in-app. Facts are engaging and easily understood, with content that's often silly and loaded with imagery. The whimsical illustrations, such as an octopus playing the piano, help to instill a sense of wonder. Kids can read text or tap it to hear it read aloud. A recurring character named Music Bird announces musical samples and guides listening prompts to help young ears discern the finer points of classical music.

Kids can learn about Western classical music through great audio snippets, lively illustrations, clever language, and guided listening, such as "The French horn looks like a solid brass lump of spaghetti, it has a smooth sound" and "Imagine an elephant bumbling along, that's the sound of the double bass." Guided listenings are especially useful as they give kids of all learning abilities vivid imagery to help understand the genre. Kids are taught to listen for the elements of music (such as melody, timbre, dynamics, rhythm, form) and to feel the many moods conveyed through music. The one downside of My First Classical Music App HD is that all featured composers are male. Such domination begs for a broader, more diverse, and historically accurate representation of the genre, which includes well-known female and non-European composers who aren't represented here.

Overall Rating

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

The at-times daunting world of classical music is now approachable, thanks to lively illustrations, kid-friendly text and voice-over, and guided listening samples of popular classical pieces.

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

Designed like an interactive book, the app encourages self-directed exploration. It features eight composers and all orchestral instruments through interesting facts, illustrations, listening questions, and audio samples.

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

Information is easy to find through a central, well-organized table of contents. There's voice-over narration throughout the app, so kids can both hear and read text. Guided listening text and high-quality audio samples tune kids in.

Common Sense Reviewer
Kim Alessi Educational Technology Specialist

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michelle L. , Other
Rowlesburg School
Rowlesburg, United States
Different take on common material.
The younger students enjoyed the app, but surprisingly my 5th and 6th graders liked the app too. One of the big problems with the app is you run out of material quickly. They need to continually update this app. But for what it had it was great and the children really enjoyed using it.
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