(all devices, free, developed by Little Composers)
Various innovators and entrepreneurs are carving out their own little niches in the app world. The Canadian team behind Little Composers have created what may be the best music apps for younger kids, and they’re available on all tablets, smartphones, Macs and PCs.
There are four apps, each designed for children at a specific stage. Those as young as two or three can easily figure out the intuitive Noah app: the big animals (including zebras, giraffes and crocodiles) that appear on screen can be tapped like a piano key to produce a sound; the smaller animals (including birds and fish) are used to compose a short melody. From here, they graduate to Prepiano, where a simple keyboard triggers the sounds. Next, the Creative Children Compose Music app is a more complex system for children with some experience of other Little Composers apps. Finally, an app called Little Composers is an intuitive system to help children memorise the 10 most important note names.
Suitable for: Children, or anyone of any age who is starting to learn music.
(iPad/iPhone, €4.99, developed by Apple)
A full recording studio with piano, organ, guitar and drums, allowing users to make music wherever they are. This has been a game-changing app for many musicians, which has enabled professionals and amateurs to write, record and share their music. The sounds are true-to-life and, with a bit of practice, the tools are easy to use. One nifty feature is the ability to use wifi or Bluetooth to record live with up to three friends.
The new version of GarageBand also has pre-recorded music lessons for download. Creative, musical and technical.
Suitable for: All ages. Younger kids will bang on the instruments, while older kids and adults can get creative.
The perfect app for music students, from primary to third-level and beyond. It’s designed to test and improve note reading, and it’s played as a game against the clock.
Teachers will find it useful for both beginners and advanced students, but it can also be played at home.
Suitable for: It’s particularly useful for any young person learning how to play an instrument from note, but adults who are finally following through on that resolution to play an instrument will also find it handy.
See also: Notes! – Learn to Read Music (iOS).
Biophilia by Björk
(iPad/iPhone: €12.99, Android: ¤9.99, developed by Second Wind Apps)
A visually stunning and musically enchanting app that broke down the barriers between sound, science, the natural world and art. Developed by the Icelandic star Björk in collaboration with artists, designers, scientists, writers, instrument makers and software developers, it’s an exploration of the universe and how it works through music and art. It’s not necessarily just for Björk fans; you’ll learn something too. So good it’s now a part of the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Suitable for: all ages. Most people will find something of interest on this app.
(iPad, free but in-app purchases available, developed by Sebastien Bachorzewski)
This fun and creative app starts with a sock or glove before kids add eyes, nose, mouth and other features using buttons, strands and various ornaments. This is a somewhat unusual app in that it’s designed to encourage children to get off the computer and create their own real art. They can, for instance, make their own physical artistic backgrounds for the sock puppets – which they can then upload to the app – and it also inspires them to make their own physical puppets.
Suitable for: all children, and it’s a game that families can play together.
(iPad/iPhone, Android, free, developed by Art.sy. Inc)
One for adults, art students and young people interested in exploring the art world. This rather special app allows users to explore, collect and share more than 100,000 art works from some of the world’s top galleries and museums. Updated daily.
Suitable for: all ages.
An app that’s especially useful for children (or adults) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It provides extra motivation and rewards for completing tasks or chores through a star award system. You can also track your child’s progress over the course of a few weeks.
Suitable for: children, especially those under 12.
YOUR FAVOURITE APP: If there’s a great educational app you’ve found that you’d like to share with other readers, please use the comment box below.