As a kid, I spent too much time playing Rock Band and not enough time practicing my actual guitar. Perhaps an educational game would have been the perfect middle ground to keep me motivated to learn an instrument – which is why today, we are doing another installment on music education games!
Though there hasn’t been as much research on music education and game-based learning as there has been on other subjects like math and science, there still is a case for using video games to teach music – with motivation being games’ greatest asset!
Our last entry focuses primarily on young learners, while this roundup is focused (mostly) on games geared toward players of all ages, including older students and adults, because I am definitely not a kid anymore and still need to develop my music expertise beyond “Hot Cross Buns” on guitar. Let’s get into the games!
Currently in its early access stage, LyraVR is a game that takes imaginative and immersive music creation to a virtual plane! With different instruments, instrument nodes, and a variety of colorful environments, players can compose tunes in a completely new way. This game is a whimsical and creative experience that provides an opportunity for anyone of any experience level to experiment with music composition. Like many other VR titles, LyraVR is redefining the where and how of music-making and is currently available for purchase on Steam.
Fans of classical music will become quick fans of Partitas, a melody-based puzzle game created by indie developer Lotz. Available on PC for $0.99 on Steam, this charming PC pixel art game tasks a player with restoring ruined sections of sheet music. Players will learn how to identify notes by ear as they enjoy classical works by the likes of Chopin, Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert, Bach, Mozart, Saint-Saens, Ravel, Mendelssohn, Granados, and Chiquinha Gonzaga. Fun fact: a partita is a synonym for a suite, but also can mean a single-instrumental piece of music.
The official music learning app of Lang Lang International Music Foundation, Big Ear is a mobile game designed for young learners. Through puzzles and a cast of funky monsters, the game seeks to break down the structure and logic of music, teaching technical basics and the joy and creativity of music at once. It also allows students to compose their own creations and share them, adding an important social element to the game and demonstrating how music is often best when shared or played with others! Download Big Ear on the App Store or Google Play Store.
Developed by Bad Dream Games, One Hand Clapping differentiates itself from the other entries in this roundup as its main instrument of focus is the player’s singing voice. This 2D puzzle platform requires that players sing or hum, utilizing melody, harmony, and rhythm to explore the environment and solve puzzles. Notably, the game does not punish players for going flat or otherwise messing up, and instead aims to boost a player’s confidence in their voice. One Hand Clapping also features an educational mode that shows the correct notes to sing on a scale, along with where a player’s voice falls on the scale for comparison. This game is available for PC or Google Stadia.
Incredibox, developed by French studio So Far So Good, is an app/web browser game that allows players to create music with a “merry crew of beatboxers.” By simply dragging and dropping different characters into the environment, students can mix and create their own songs, learning what makes up a piece of music along the way. Like Big Ear, this app allows players to share their compositions. With its bold, distinctive art style and animations, Incredibox is a game suitable for any age.
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