A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
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?
- 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: Free to try
- Pricing structure: Free to try ($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
- Last updated: April 08, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.