PlayItYourself 4 HD

App review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
PlayItYourself 4 HD App Poster Image
Free music player proves confusing and limited.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

Kids tap highlighted piano keys to follow along with the music, but aren't always playing the correct notes. (There is some octave displacement because the keyboard is only two octaves.) As such, the interface can prove quite confusing.

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The app is free but kids can purchase points with real-world cash (in increments from 30 points for $0.99 to 350 points for $9.99) to instantly unlock new music instead of having to earn it by practicing. The app is ad-supported, but players can pay 200 points to turn the ads off permanently. Kids must also pay 200 points for the privilege of importing their own music into the app.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that PlayItYourself 4 HD is a free tool for learning to play the piano, which can be confusing for kids. The app highlights upcoming notes on a musical score along with the corresponding keys to press on a virtual multi-touch keyboard so that kids can follow along and create music. Each performance is rated on accuracy and speed. The app is free to download, and kids unlock additional scores by earning points or spending real-world cash. Parents will want to turn-off in-app purchases on their devices so that they stay in control of when purchases happen.

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Is it any good?

PLAYITYOURSELF 4 HD is meant to be a learning tool, but does little to explain what kids are seeing on the screen. Kids will catch on that they're meant to tap the highlighted keys, but they won't learn anything about note names, rhythm, or symbols such as key signatures and clefs. The virtual keyboard only spans two octaves, and if the music on the score goes beyond that range it substitutes a note in a wrong octave, which often requires kids to leap across the keyboard in the opposite direction of the musical line so that they're actually learning the score incorrectly.

Play It Yourself 4 HD has bitten off more than it can chew, and perhaps should have stuck to songs that fit within the two-octave range of the keyboard it provides. The interface will probably overwhelm beginners, while experienced pianists could easily pick up bad habits from trying to follow the inaccurate note mapping. This is one case where it's better to stick with the real thing.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: July 17, 2011
  • Category: Music
  • Size: 15.80 MB
  • Publisher: AlphaWeb Plus LLP
  • Version: 4.00
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.2 or later

For kids who love being creative

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