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Music Software Reviews

A Little Kidmusic
from Ars Nova Software

For Ages 3 to 13

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Music software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this Mac-only title.


Reviewed on:
A Little Kidmusic Screen Shot Macintosh Performa 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD

Description
This program blends a beginning music tutorial with the broader category of music appreciation. It teaches in a completely non-threatening way--every attempt is praised, every practice session a triumph. The program can be used independently or with a MIDI keyboard, but if the user is serious about learning to play the piano, the latter is highly recommended. Use of the mouse to play notes is awkward and unsatisfying, as is use of the regular keyboard's letter keys.

In A Little Kid Music, the user plays a variety of tunes in a variety of ways. Options include listening to a song as it is played by the computer, playing along with the song by the mere tapping any of the letter keys, and actually learning to play the song--with focus on either pitch or rhythm. Additionally, music can be written, recorded and edited with the use of the program's writing tool. This option provides the more advanced user with a creative outlet for his or her new-found knowledge and skill. Songs can be written, recorded, saved, and printed. An "add harmony" option asks the program to invent accompaniment to the tune. A Little Kid Music will write out the user's composition as it has been played, or notes can be entered and edited manually with the use of the note menu.

Ease of Install / Use
Four floppy disks easily install the program on Macintosh computers.

The operating manual is recommended reading, including helpful information about the many uses of the program, especially the music-writing option.

Educational Value
A Little Kid Music is not a piano tutorial. It is not recommended as a lessons replacement for a child who seriously wants to learn to play an instrument. It does not teach hand and body positioning, nor does it go into in-depth explanation of the keyboard and its notes. For the young child who is interested in music but discouraged by more intense tutorials, however, this program is a nice introduction. It teaches the basics of reading and understanding music notation, as well as some keyboarding skills.

The program's rhythm lessons are especially helpful for the beginner. They explain the different lengths of notes as well as many beat permutations, and provide brief, easy to follow practice sessions for each rhythm lesson. Throughout the program, immediate feedback is given as each note or beat is played, enabling the user to identify exactly what areas need work. Gold stars are rewarded at various levels of mastery for each song.

Kid Appeal
Because this program adapts so easily to each child's individual expertise level, and contains many easily recognizable tunes, it provides hours of entertainment for young music lovers. As with most music programs, however, frustration is a factor, especially with the perfectionist. Flats and sharps appear in the music to be played without adequate preliminary explanation, and songs vary widely in ease of play. Parents can control this to some extent, by appropriately setting the user's age group under "Parent Options".

Best for / Bottom-Line
This program contains plenty of musical fun to enlighten and entertain the beginning musician. It is not meant to be the end-all in music instruction, but rather an introduction that will, hopefully, lead to bigger things.

Educational Value = 3/5, Kid Appeal = 3/5, Ease of Use= 3/5

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other music software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this Mac-only title.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Not available System 7.0 or later
CPU Type and Speed 68020 or later
Hard Drive Space 8 MB
Memory (RAM) 3 MB free
Graphics 640x480 Color
CD-ROM Speed floppy disk
Audio
Other Needs (optional) MIDI keyboard

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