Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2018
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Yousician

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Appealing, feedback-rich tool helps kids build core musical skills

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Arts

Skills
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
3–12
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Pros: A great mix of videos, hands-on playing, and game-based hooks makes this an appealing fit for a wide range of ages and abilities.

Cons: Requires a pricey subscription, and there's no educational plan.

Bottom Line: Paired with great in-person instruction, this is a fabulous tool to boost musical skills.

Teachers can enroll as a music teacher on Yousician and receive email instructions on how to best integrate the app into their teaching practice. Once you enroll, you'll enable an Edu tab in the app, which lets you create a class and interact with students by creating assignments and tracking progress. The YousicianEdu page on the app's website has tons of helpful ideas for private lessons, small-group instruction, and large classes. There are recommendations for games you can play with the app and ways to use its missions as an alternative tool for assessment and tracking progress. Plus, the website lists mentor teachers you can connect with for ideas and guidance. In general, think about how you might use this tool to help your music students structure their practice time and how you might use it to augment your in-class activities. The videos and lessons within this app are stellar, but they're probably best used with the additional context and feedback that only an in-person teacher can offer. 

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Yousician is a music practice app for iOS, Android, and PCs that helps students learn to play the piano, guitar, bass, and ukulele. First, students select their experience level, and then a video plays, introducing them to their in-app teacher, a real person whose voice guides the quests and songs they'll encounter next. Students can choose to read notes either in standard musical notation or in the app's own notation format, and students drill and practice different skills (such as rhythm and articulation) in each song they try. The app keeps track of their practice time along with their performance in different songs, and students can work to improve their performance during a single practice session or over time. Students can learn some beginning techniques for both pop and classical music, from basic fingering technique to scales to chords. Also, students can learn some basic musical notation. Whether they can read music or not, they can learn basic skills for reading a score and matching pitches and rhythm to what's shown on-screen.

An in-app progress tracker rewards students for practicing and completing new missions, so students can learn persistence and dedication if they use Yousician to stick to their practice goals. Special features for educators let teachers create assignments for their students and track their progress. Yousician's features are free for a limited time, and then it'll require a monthly or annual subscription fee. Keep an eye out in your preferences to make sure the app subscription doesn't auto-renew or charge unless you want it to. 

Yousician does a remarkably good job of offering instant feedback and encouraging students to keep growing their skills. The in-app mentor guides students along the way, telling them what quests or songs they should explore and coaching them through their very first song. It's especially impressive just how quickly you get to start playing; even if you're a beginner, this app gets right to the part where you get to start playing songs, which makes for an especially rewarding experience. There's also a nice mix of direct instruction and practice: The videos introduce new skills in approachable, straightforward language, and the "missions" help users instantly apply what they've learned and track their progress. The progress tracking page is a nice touch too; it tracks both practice time and how well you complete the skills on each mission. There's a nice mix of rewarding both accuracy and persistence, and it's great that you can share this information with parents and teachers. 

Overall, the main challenge with this app is its price tag, which some teachers and families might find expensive. If you're willing to spend the money, this app could add some serious value to a student's real-life music lessons. If you and your students are willing to dive into the data and explore it, and if you can afford the price, using this app could be rich and rewarding.

Overall Rating

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

It's empowering and fun to get instant feedback as you play, and it's exciting that even beginners can start playing right away.

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

There's a great mix of video instruction and hands-on practice, and it's nice that the app rewards students for time on task, improvement, and accuracy. 

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

In-app feedback is great, and the online teacher community offers tips for integrating the tool into in-person practice. The teacher dashboard helps with managing classrooms.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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