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Review: ‘My First Classical Music App’ for the iPad

I can’t think of a better way to start the week than with a bit of classical music.

Screen shot from 'My First Classical Music App' (Chapman) Naxos Digital

Title: My First Classical Music App
Author: Genevieve Helsby
Illustrator: Jason Chapman
Developed by
: Naxos Digital Services Ltd.
Platform: iOS, requires 4.3 or later
Version: 1.0
Price: $4.99

Gr 1-5-In the 21st century, in order to be considered “first” in a child’s digital experience, an app would probably be enjoyed by a 3- or 4-year-old. This colorful title, based on My First Classical Music Book (Naxos, 2009), is an exposure to classical composers, compositions, and instruments suited for children a bit older than that. The content is rich with pages full of text accompanied by audio selections and interactive components.

Information is delivered under three broad headings: “People” (eight composers) “Instruments”and a brief section titled “When? Where?” which explains venues of classical music. There are a few discrepancies in the instrument section. The viola is not “a bigger violin,” some of the woodwind and percussion instruments are omitted, and the saxophone (not normally an orchestra instrument) is included.

The cheerful animations depict childlike illustrations of animals playing the instruments (though for this audience, videos of people playing the instruments might have been a better match). The buttons that trigger the audio clips are too small and the multiple-choice answers to questions are even smaller.

On a positive note, the narration and music excerpts are excellent, and highlight the selected instruments and story lines. Short biographies of composers offer quirky and fun facts. Elementary age children will appreciate this amusing introduction, which can also serve as supplementary classroom material.–Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, Newburgh, NY