Piano Maestro by JoyTunes

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Piano Maestro by JoyTunes App Poster Image
Activities, animations get older kids and tween practicing.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn and hone beginning piano skills as they practice simple songs and hone their sight-reading skills. They can practice techniques as they play with each hand and then both hands together, and they can ramp up to more intermediate skills such as chords and arpeggios. Kids can also learn consistent practice habits as they earn stars and level up based on their performance. Piano Maestro by JoyTunes is an engaging practice tool and effective bridge among the teacher, parent, and kid.

Ease of Play

Ton of content to sift through, but pretty intuitive to find what they're looking for.

Violence
Sex

A few popular songs might have more grown-up themes of romantic love (Taylor Swift and John Legend make an appearance), but it's mostly tame and all instrumental. Kids might want to download actual songs.

Language

Pop songs available, but no lyrics; even if they were, they're all pretty G-rated. Kids might want to download actual songs.

Consumerism

Without a free account with a piano teacher, can get expensive, from purchasing access to particular songs and music books to buying a subscription. Lots of opportunities for in-app purchase just by swiping right. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Piano Maestro by JoyTunes is an interactive piano practice app for kids. As kids play on an electric or acoustic piano or on the in-app keyboard, the app uses the iPad's touchscreen or microphone to gauge the player's accuracy and gives instant visual and auditory feedback. In each activity, users earn stars based on accuracy and other criteria such as technique, rhythm, and sight reading. Kids can share their achievements (and their photo, if they like) via email or social media, and their parents and teachers can track their ongoing practice within the app or via the teacher dashboard. Though many songs and exercises are available for free, there are lots of opportunities for in-app purchase, from popular songs to access to piano lesson books. The app asks if kids are 13 or older if they choose to use it on their own, but there's no age verification; its probably not ideal for little kids just learning how to play, even though the early lessons are simple, because playing on a device (vs. a keyboard) won't reinforce proper hand positioning and the interface might be distracting. For more details on the kinds of information collected and shared, read the app's privacy policy.

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What's it about?

After you download PIANO MAESTRO BY JOYTUNES, pick an account type: Families can pay for a subscription that unlocks everything, or students working with a registered piano teacher can enter their teacher's code to gain free access. There's also an option for kids to use it on their own, and the app asks if the user is over 13, though there's no verification of age. The app's main page features three sections: Journey, Library, and Home Challenge. Journey lets kids explore across 38 chapters that feature tutorials that focus on skills (such as playing with both hands) and basic theory (such as rests), and users have to play the right notes as they scroll by. In Library, kids can browse songs, exercises, and methods, which includes digital versions of 13 widely used beginning piano method books. In Home Challenge, teachers can assign an activity from the app to their students for some home practice, and teachers can see their students' progress from their own view within the app.

Is it any good?

With a silly visual style and tons of songs to choose from, this tool is a fun, approachable way for kids to practice the piano, but it isn't cheap, and it visually appeals to a younger crowd. The Home Challenge section and sharing features offer a rewarding way for kids to access their practice assignments and share their progress with both parents and teachers. Plus, there's a good blog for parents on the developer's website that offers insights on parenting a budding musician who may need some encouragement to keep up with daily practice. It's also possible that there's a little too much going on with this app. Although it's fun to have a scrolling Guitar Hero-style interface while kids play and earn badges, it's sometimes a little distracting: The scrolling notes, dancing mascot, ticking metronome, and background music don't always feel like they're in sync, but you can turn some of these features off. If the feedback was a bit more detailed, addressing tricky passages or tough fingerings, it would be even more helpful. Also, the visual style might be a better fit for much younger kids, who may find the animation and cheesy humor appealing, while teens might feel less engaged. Still, this is a terrific way to support in-person piano lessons and help kids build consistent practice habits.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to use this app to support piano practice: Consider having kids use the app's built-in keyboard to drill skills on the go and otherwise use the app with their real-life piano while they practice.

  • Check out the parent blog on the developer's website. There are some great tips for motivating reluctant piano students to get practicing and some helpful tips for helping support your budding musician.

  • Talk about the different songs you can find within the app and what you can learn from each of them. What do "Old MacDonald" and "Gangnam Style" have in common, and what skills might you practice in each song?

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Arts: improvising and music analysis, music, playing, rhythm
  • Skills: Self-Direction: initiative, personal growth, work to achieve goals, working efficiently
    Emotional Development: developing resilience, moving beyond obstacles, self-awareness
  • Price: $9.99-$59.99
  • Pricing structure: Free to Try
  • Subscription price: $9.99-$59.99
  • Release date: October 30, 2015
  • Category: Education
  • Topics: Music and Sing-Along
  • Size: 148.00 MB
  • Publisher: JoyTunes
  • Version: 3.8.1
  • Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 7.0 or later

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love music and creativity

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