A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that SoundJunction is a website commissioned by the U.K. government and can help kids understand what's involved with playing, writing, and appreciating music. Kids have to register to use the site if they want to save the items they create in the Note Canvas tool. Registration requires a first and last name, username, email address, school name, age, and password. Users who are 13 and under don't seem to have any additional restrictions. However, because many of the site tools have functionality issues, kids probably won't be able to save or share original compositions or other information.
What's it about?
Kids can read about and watch videos discussing different types of instruments, musical genres, music history, and musician interviews. Some articles describe the process of composing and the role instruments play in a song. The free site, which says it has 200 musician, writer, teacher, and student contributors and 50 hours of audio files, sometimes feels a little text heavy; but the content is well-written and interesting.
Is it any good?
Students can find, listen to, and create music using SOUNDJUNCTION. The site features reading material on a wide variety of music-related topics, ranging from how composers start working on a song to unique instruments used in other countries. Kids can also string a few elements together in the Note Canvas tool to see (and hear) the results.
The site's other interactive tools, however, are pretty disappointing. The Composer and Explorer tools sound like they'd provide a fantastic visual look at song components, but both won’t load. That’s a shame, because without them, the site feels like one long reading assignment at times, and kids may lose steam as they navigate through it. To turn SoundJunction into a truly incredible learning resource, the site just needs to pair its impressive array of articles with a few more activities to help keep kids engaged.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how songs are made, from coming up with an idea to choosing what instruments to play. What should you do first?
Music is a way to express your feelings. Can your kids identify the intent behind the original songs included on the site?
People like some songs and dislike others. Ask your kids to describe how a song sounds, then discuss which statements describe their feelings about the song.
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