Musical Me! is the new creative and fun educational app from the developers at Duck Duck Moose, aimed at stimulating the interest of music in young children. Both iPad as well as iPhone versions are available.
It is great fun how this app stars Mozzarella the Mouse, taking place around the Eiffel Tower, much like Duck Duck Moose's previous app Word Wagon.
Here, visit five activities, nicely varied and beautiful to look at, which include the fundamentals of music in such activities as a Memory section in which a Simon-styled mini-game helps train the memory as the player tries to play back notes heard. Rhythm is taught by tapping birds as they appear left of the screen, as these spacing of these birds teaching about long and short notes. Dance is introduced by the tapping of friendly monsters to make them dance to the beat of music being played, a favorite section of my son’s. My son also really enjoys the instruments section a great deal as he can make his own music nicely accompanied by a selection of upbeat kids songs, with instruments such as drum, cymbals, triangle, egg shaker, or a duck that squeaks just for fun - a nice touch. Another interesting section is included where the player can change the notes used in favorite traditional songs, creating one's own music on a staff. Do tap the other animals one may find amongst these sections to find many surprises that are all utterly Duck Duck Moose.
I enjoy how this app makes use of vertical space as Moz leads the player to different locations with the tap of a finger, from the base of the Eiffel Tower, up into the sky, with the Tower seen in the backdrop as one taps the birds flying by in the rhythm section and up higher into the upper atmosphere to play the memory game, with a nice use of planets that play notes one must memorize and play back. From the sky, Moz takes the players down into the ocean, teaching about notes on a staff underwater, complete with fun water sounds and fish to tap at for fun, and then back to land again to play various instruments.
The sense of space this creates is very good and quite unique. The details of Moz’s change of clothing for the different modes are really fun details as well, ranging from a space suit to wet suit as well as a tux for when he conducts during the instruments section.
The rhythm, memory, and notes section contains three levels of difficulty, and it is impressive that different instruments can be used during these activities such as piano, guitar, or violin, as well as the use of solfège syllable, sung do-re-mi-fa-sol. It is also impressive the amount of popular traditional songs used in this app, both as instrumental as well as sung, and I have greatly enjoyed hearing the verses of these popular songs that I am not familiar with from such tunes as Yankee Doodle Dandie, Pop Goes the Weasel, or The Farmer in the Dell, finding this experience educational in and of itself.
This app has a lot to offer kids of many ages and skill sets. The youngest kids will have fun tapping fun, colorful monsters, making them dance and making music or noise from the instruments offered. Older children will have fun tapping on the birds as they move across the screen. My son, now 3.5 years, also has a lot of fun with the memory mode of this app, watching intently as I play this mini-game for him as he is not yet able to remember the sequencing of these notes, something he will enjoy when he is older, I am sure.
Possibly the most impressive part of this app is the notes section where one can play instrumental versions of many popular kids songs, changing the notes at will with a vertical slide of a finger, watching as these notes' names, sound, and color transform, helping the child visualize the differences they experiences as these notes change. Everything is provided to allow a bright, musically inclined child to decode the basics in the complex task of reading music as they changes notes and listens to the music played back - be it a slightly altered rendition of an included song or a completely new piece of music, but I do wish the spacing of these notes could be moved horizontally on the staff as well to truly create something entirely different.
I have no musical training; keeping in mind parents such as myself, it would be a wonderful inclusion for a future update to include a parents section explaining how best to use this activity, as without prior music instruction themselves, adults may lack the vocabulary to fully articulate what is being explained in this section.
The sounds from each individual note played to the full songs used, both instrumental and sung, sound amazing and this app has a great deal to offer kids of many ages and abilities. You simply can’t go wrong with a Duck Duck Moose app, I look forward to their next app.