A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that BandBlast - The Music Education Revolution is a serious music-practice app with a groovy, whimsical visual style. Kids will watch videos, take (very short) comprehension quizzes, play games, and record themselves playing to build beginning music skills with several common wind and string instruments.
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What's it about?
BANDBLAST supports beginning music students' developing skills. First, kids create an avatar, choose an instrument (alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet, flute, viola, violin, cello, double bass, trumpet, or trombone), and pick a "Blastophone," a whimsical instrument for their avatar to hold on-screen. Then kids can choose among five options on the main page: Missions lets users progress step by step through 20 missions, which are multistep lessons that teach the basics of each instrument through videos and two games; kids can earn stars for completing different tasks, such as watching the video, answering comprehension questions correctly, and then playing through the games without errors. In Play a Game, kids can jump straight into the two games: Rhythm has users tap out the correct rhythm as it scrolls by on-screen, and Pitch requires them to play the correct note on their instrument to shoot a ball. Watch a Video lets users skip straight to the video selections for that instrument. The videos all live online, so be sure you have a consistent Internet connection.
Is it any good?
This original take on music instruction has some brilliant touches that make it a great choice for supporting kids' real-world music study. The two games integrate learning very well, and fun visuals and clear progress tracking help reel in kids and keep them on task. The wide range of included topics -- from games to videos to the nitty-gritty of technique -- is impressive. Though the low-resolution videos look dated in terms of film quality, their messages are earnest and timeless. Also, the joy in these players is palpable, and kids will be won over by the fun they'll have as they embark on their 20 missions. The built-in questions following each video aren't always especially tough, but they're a solid review of the main ideas and the major take-home lessons. Overall, there's great content here, and it's a good complement to serious, consistent playing as a soloist or in an ensemble.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they might use this app to structure their practice time. Talk about the videos and the games and how they connect to the skills they're learning from their teachers.
Talk about other elements of music aside from pitch and rhythm. How does volume affect music? Why is listening as you play important?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Arts: improvising and music analysis, music, playing, rhythm
- Skills: Self-Direction: identifying strengths and weaknesses, motivation, self-assessment, work to achieve goals
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: July 15, 2015
- Category: Music
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Size: 108.00 MB
- Publisher: BTS Design Group Inc.
- Version: 1.34
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 6.0 or later.
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For kids who love music
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