A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
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.
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.
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