Monster Chords: Fun with Music

App review by
Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Media
Monster Chords: Fun with Music App Poster Image
Monster confusion and ads; not a great way to learn guitar.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn the proper way to hold a guitar and ukulele, how to position hands as they play. Also the names of different parts of instruments, how to tune them. In parts of the app where they play songs, kids can practice moving their hands smoothly from one position to another. Kids can experiment with app's composer tool by stringing together chords to create their own songs in app's Composer mode.

Ease of Play

Helpful intro videos about how to hold your instrument and position your hands, but little information about how to play or core musical skills like rhythm and sight reading.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Pop-up ad appears for a dedicated tuning app available for purchase from the same developer. That pop-up seems to appear whenever you launch the tuning app.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Monster Chords: Fun with Music is a subscription-based music app that teaches kids to play the guitar and ukulele. After some intro videos demonstrate how to hold the instruments and read chord charts, users can move through levels by playing songs like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "I'm a Little Teapot." You can also create your own compositions and share them on the app. 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?

MONSTER CHORDS: FUN WITH MUSIC is an app for teaching beginners to play the guitar and ukulele. Animated intro videos introduce tuning, hand positioning, and chords, and there's a brief mini-game for tuning the instrument. To start playing, kids make their way through a series of levels where they play increasingly complex songs, and they're rewarded for playing correctly by earning stars and attracting animated monsters toward a campfire. Kids can also use a "composer" mode to create their own songs by stringing together chord names; if they play their composition with limited errors, they can upload it and make it publicly accessible to other users.

Is it any good?

While there's good content scattered through the intro videos, the buggy mini-games and lack of support make this app hard to follow. For example, the videos speed through tons of important information about how to hold the instruments, how to position your hands, and how to play different chords, but there's almost too much information presented all at once and not enough time to take it in. Though you can jump backward in the videos 15 seconds at a time, there's no good way to jump to big topics in the videos like hand positioning and tuning. Plus, there's not an easy way to get back to specific videos (like the introductions for each chord) once you've watched them.  

Meanwhile, the three main built-in games in Monster Chords: Fun with Music -- the tuning feature, the composing feature, and the song-playing levels -- aren't nearly as well-explained as the videos. The tuning game is buggy and inconsistently responsive, and it's timed, for some reason. You have to set the screen to "easy mode" to turn off a distracting timer that has nothing to do with developing the skill of tuning your instrument. The app also periodically features pop-up ads for a dedicated tuning app that you can purchase from the same developer. The game levels are also confusing. The objective is apparently to play chords correctly so that monsters will gather at the campfire, but that's not really explained within the game. Plus, it's hard to know what to do, as letters float out of the campfire periodically and cross a dotted line that indicates when to play. It would make more sense and be easier to follow if the screen displayed more information, like chord charts and beats, and it would be more fun if kids were playing more recognizable songs and could more meaningfully track their progress. It's hard to tell when you've gotten something right or wrong. As it is, there's not enough support here to help beginners make the jump from the intro videos to mastering their instruments. Overall, look elsewhere for an app that takes a more stepwise, supportive approach for new guitar and ukulele players.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they might use music learning apps like Monster Chords: Fun with Music to structure their practice time as they learn to play a new instrument. Talk about getting started by tuning and then moving on to practicing different chords and then whole songs. 

  • Many popular songs feature guitars. Are there certain songs that work best on guitar and ukulele? Why or why not? Listen to music together and try to identify the different instruments that you hear.

  • Families can talk about advertising. This game has numerous ads throughout, including some that play when you don't want them to. Does this bother you, or do you accept it as part of mobile gaming? Why do you think the app's developers did this?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music and creativity

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