The Tune Zoo

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
The Tune Zoo App Poster Image
Whimsical music-maker includes great info, records video.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn some basic music theory, including four scales: Five-Tone, Blues, Ethiopian, and Indian. They can learn about how sounds change by moving them up or down by an octave, and they can experiment with rhythm by creating loops and playing along with their creations. 

Ease of Play

The tiny intro text ("Pull my head to begin!") is cute, but a little more guidance would help kids understand all the features and unlock all this app's possibilities.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Tune Zoo is a sweet app that lets kids mix simple sounds and beats to make their own songs. Some built-in information pages let kids learn more about different music from around the world. Kids can record their creations and save them to their device's camera roll; other than that, there's no way to share personal information. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

In THE TUNE ZOO kids tap and drag brightly colored characters to create their own songs. Tap the speakers to start and stop different beats and percussion sounds; tap the red characters and drag the yellow and blue characters' faces up and down to play tones from a five-tone scale. You can change the scale by tapping on a menu at the top right (your choices are Five-Tone, Blues, Ethiopian, and Indian), and you can drag the red and yellow characters up and down to move the notes they play up or down an octave. A special menu page reveals more information about each of the five-tone scales available. Using the buttons on the main page lets kids record loops and play them back, and they can use the main record button to make a recording of your screen that you can save to your device's camera roll. 

Is it any good?

On the surface, this music-creation app is a charming, fun way to record your own songs and experiment with sound, and digging a little deeper shows that there's even more to enjoy. There's a lot to learn about music here: This app lets you play around with cute characters, but it's also chock-full of great information about different kinds of musical scales and their origins. Beyond that, it's endlessly fun to toggle sounds on and off and to drag the characters's heads to open their mouths wide to sing. While The Tune Zoo isn't a comprehensive way to learn about music, it's a terrific, approachable way for kids to create their own tunes with only a few simple on-screen tools. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about making your own music and sharing it with friends. What kind of music can you make with The Tune Zoo? When is it OK to share things online?

  • Talk about how manipulating the different characters changes the sounds on-screen. Think about what kind of song you'd like to create and how you might use the characters on-screen to make music. 

  • If your child is learning to play an instrument, talk about reading music. How do the characters represent different notes? How can you change the key and change octaves to change the sounds?

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