Music is not a strong point of mine and despite wanting to be a veritable maestro on the piano, the most I can manage is 'Silent Night' one handed and with no sense of tempo. It makes teaching music to my class a real challenge, and although it's a bit easier to convince my five year old son that I know what I'm doing, I still need a bit of help!
I've found a selection of software which is perfect to promote musical composition in children, bring on the Beethovens and Mozarts!
- Toca Band is the most simple app of these as the only adjustment that can be made is to add one of the different characters (instruments, vocals or sound effects) to eight different podiums. The sounds can still be layered but with minimal effect. It's amusing for The Boy for just a short time, but younger children will enjoy it more as the characters are quite funny and cute. Toca Band costs £2.49 which is a bit pricey for what it is, especially as the other Toca Boca apps are so entertaining.
- Toc and Roll is The Boy's favourite music app at the moment; it's easy to use, the graphics are fun and the effects are very easily achieved. New tracks can be added from a selection of instruments, and each one has a good selection of different chords which can be added to the layers of sound, and there is the option to adjust the volume of each instrument, along with adding reverberation or a delay. At £1.49 it's a reasonably priced app and is incredibly entertaining.
- Isle of Tune is a great website which enables users to compose for free. Users are given the template of an island which they can add roads to, and a variety of street furniture can be added along the edges of this road which create the musical notes. Each house, plant, tree, lamppost or bridge is a different collection of instruments and sounds and can be adjusted accordingly. Up to 3 cars can be added on the roads, although the paid-for iOS app (costs £2.29) allows for up to 20 cars!
- Garageband is the most complicated of these four programs, although The Boy at aged 5.5 years is capable to using it simplistically. There is a collection of synthesised instruments which can be played and recorded, or for those less confident on their ability to play a chord or make it sound halfway decent, there are 'smart' drums, guitars, etc. which have pre-programmed effects and layers of sound. They're a lot easier to use! Other rhythms with different musical styles can be layered as well, and the whole process is really pleasing and rewarding. The eight and nine year old children in my class really enjoy it and can happily while away an hour (if given the opportunity) composing. At £3.99 Garageband is a more expensive app and possibly not worth spending that money for younger children, but the app is brilliant.