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Mazaam - The Musical Genius

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Mazaam - The Musical Genius App Poster Image
Lovely harmony of audio and visuals could use more variety.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to identify and sort music clips according to five criteria: pitch, tempo, intensity, timbre, and harmony. They'll also gain familiarity with a range of classical music compositions.

Ease of Play

Some controls are slow to respond or tough to get a handle on. Young kids may need some help learning when to tap, when to drag, and when to wait for the app to respond.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The free version offers limited content. Unlock the rest of the games by making an in-app purchase. The parent section includes links to Apple Music and Spotify where parents can access the music used in the app.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mazaam - The Musical Genius uses sorting games to introduce kids to the idea of pitch, tempo, intensity, timbre, and harmony. The free download allows kids to play the tempo game with the chameleon; to unlock the other four, parents need to make an in-app purchase. Parents create different user accounts so that if multiple kids play, they can each progress on their own path. One additional game uses augmented reality to encourage kids to dance along to classical music. Parents need to allow access to their device's camera and have a safe, sturdy place on which to put their device. Since the game works better with a larger screen, it may not be as much fun to play if you're using a smartphone.  In the parent section, parents can read descriptions of each of the games and musical concepts, see their kid's progress, see the titles of the music and tap to open them in Apple Music or Spotify. and choose to use the game in English or French. At times there's a lag between the visuals and the audio track, which might confuse some kids. Periodically, a pop-up window asks users to choose a smiley face or a frowny face to rate their experience with the app; there is no way to opt out of responding and a follow up question invites users to send the developers an email. 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?

Start MAZAAM - THE MUSICAL GENIUS by tapping the plus sign to choose an avatar. Then, tap your animal of choice: chameleon, squirrel, lynx, eagle, or seal, each of which corresponds to a different musical concept. In the games, kids listen to short clips of classical music and decide whether the sounds are high or low (pitch); fast or slow (tempo); loud or soft (intensity); from wind or sting instruments (timbre); or harmonious or discordant (harmony). Most levels involve a simple sorting task: for example, kids tap and drag the butterfly that makes the fast music to one chameleon and the butterfly with slow music to another chameleon. Early levels use color cues to help kids sort, but those cues go away after a few trials. An unrelated game uses augmented reality to present items on the screen that kids must wave their hands around to "pop" as they listen to classical music.

Is it any good?

Beautiful graphics, well-curated classical music, and an intriguing concept crash inharmoniously with a disappointingly repetitive user experience. There was clearly a lot of effort behind designing a visually pleasing and engaging, colorful world with inviting animal characters. Ditto for the collection of classical music clips that draw mostly from well-known compositions and clearly demonstrate the relevant musical concepts. With five music topics, Mazaam - The Musical Genius also stands out for including concepts that go beyond fast/slow or high/low. That's what makes it so disappointing that the actual games that kids play have them doing essentially the same thing, over and over again. The only slight difference in task is locked until pass through all the repetitions of the sorting task, but it's still the same across all five musical concepts. This app would be so much better with some variety and creativity in the way that kids interact with the app and the music. Though repetition is an important part of early learning, more ways to interact with the concepts would be great. The AR game is fun and does provide a little relief from the monotony of the rest of the app. The developers also try to make a case for some amazingly far-reaching benefits of musical education. Though there's research that supports the idea that musical fluency can have positive effects on other areas, it's not at all clear that this app can do the trick. Ultimately, Mazaam - The Musical Genius is a wonderful introduction to classical music and musical concepts but could use a bit more variety.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the music they hear in Mazaam - The Muscial Genius. Which types of music do your kids like best? What qualities does that music have? Is it fast or slow? From wind instruments or strings? How does the music make them feel?

  • If your kids are particularly interested in the music they hear, find the full version and play it for them often. Help them learn more about the music too. For instance, the name of the piece of music and the person who composed it, when it was composed, and what instruments are needed to play it.

  • Expose your kids to all kinds of musical genres, from classical to jazz, rock to pop, and more. Let me know what kinds of music you like, and ask them questions about what kinds of music they enjoy listening to.

  • Help your kids play their own music. You can use real instruments, simple percussion shakers, or make your own with a box and some rubber bands.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Arts: improvising and music analysis, music
  • Price: Free to try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (Free download includes limited content. Unlock everything with in-app purchase for $5.49)
  • Release date: September 18, 2019
  • Category: Education
  • Topics: Music and Sing-Along
  • Size: 699.00 MB
  • Publisher: Mazaam Interactive Inc.
  • Version: 1.06
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.3 or later; Android 7.0 and up
  • Last updated: November 07, 2019

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love music and creativity

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