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Lyrical Letters

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Lyrical Letters App Poster Image
Digital keyboard adds musical word puzzle and lots of ads.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about music and possibly increase vocabulary. They can practice tuning their ears to hear and identify notes. Kids have opportunity to creatively explore music through free play with keyboard. Puzzles, dictionary definitions may introduce kids to new words.

Ease of Play

Introduction clearly explains how game works. Buttons sometimes don't work the first few times they're tapped, and game itself is quite difficult.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Consumerism

Every few levels are interrupted by video or print ads. An in-app purchase of $1.99 gets rid of the ads; the purchase button takes users directly to the iTunes store with no parent gate. Another button on the settings screen takes users to the iTunes store to purchase other apps from the same developer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lyrical Letters is a game in which players build words by reproducing sounds using lettered notes on a digital keyboard. Players hear a succession of notes and then have to "spell" a word by playing the corresponding keys on the keyboard. Instructions and hints are text only, so players must be able to read to take advantage of the supports, but there's no reading requirement to simply play the game. Unless parents make a $1.99 in-app purchase, video and/or print ads interrupt gameplay every few levels. It can be quite difficult to find the right notes that match the target sounds; kids may easily get frustrated. Kids can also play music without playing the puzzles. There's a record button to record songs, though at the time of this review, the button wasn't working. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

A digital keyboard combines with word puzzles in LYRICAL LETTERS. Listen to a sequence of two or three notes and then try to re-create what you heard. The correct answer will spell a word using the letters (A-G) that correspond to each note on the scale. Ask for the definition of the word if you're having trouble. There are eight instrument sound options, easy or hard puzzle choices, and 117 word puzzles. Kids can also turn the puzzle off to just play and record music with the keyboard.

Is it any good?

This unique idea has fun elements, but offering more support to users would make it more accessible. As a stand-alone digital keyboard, Lyrical Letters offers clean graphic and clear sound. There are also a few fun options like playing percussion with the black keys and changing the instrument sound. But, especially with the record function not working properly, there are other music apps that offer more. The puzzle function introduces a fun challenge for some, but others will probably find it a bit confusing. Kids can work on their vocabulary with the help of the hints in the form of dictionary definitions, and it's fun to see the many words that can be formed with the letters A-G. Two levels of difficulty help, but there could be more support, such as the option to hear the target sound sequence again. Otherwise, it takes some significant familiarity with musical notes and/or a good ear to get through the puzzles.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the words in Lyrical Letters. Look up the definition of new words and practice using them in a sentence.

  • Play word games. How many words can you come up with using the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G (or other groups of letters)?

  • Experiment with different sounds and talk out how you can guess which note you're hearing. Is this sound higher on the scale or lower than the one before it? Play music to increase your familiarity and comfort level with notes.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love music and word games

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