Monkey Drum-Free App
This is another FREE app that I think will be very useful in the music classroom. The main menu allows you to pick 2 ways to play. This is how the menu looks on an iPhone or iPod. When you click on the center image, you enter the most basic type of play. Here, you can play rhythms and melodies on instruments and when you pause or finish your phrase, the monkey will be a copy cat and repeat exactly what you just played. (Get it? Monkey see, monkey do!) The more you play, the more the monkey starts showing he likes your music by clapping or even dancing.
After playing a little while, you and the monkey are rewarded with a banana to feed the monkey. After eating 3 bananas, you get 10 free hearts to use to purchase more instruments, more animal characters, or even accessories to dress up your monkey. You also get 15 free hearts each day you play. Just check the mailbox on the main menu to get your daily free hearts.
The game comes with 3 instruments unlocked for free (djembe drum, thumb piano, and xylophone). Other instruments available to unlock with heart coins are congas, an acoustic guitar, and a microphone.
Another way to play is the Song Maker. For the youngest children, they can just have fun exploring sounds by drawing shapes on the boxes. For older children, they can carefully compose intricate rhythms, melodies, and harmonies. the bottom right corner features a page turner. Each page features 8 beats. (If you choose a faster tempo, you may treat each page like a 4 beat measure allowing you to compose with eighth notes and syncopation.) I believe you can have an unlimited number of pages/measures in your composition. (I scrolled down to 207 and it was still going!) When you hit play, you get to view the animals in video mode playing your composition.
There are also a few preloaded songs you select and then edit to create your own variation. Sometimes its a little overwhelming composing from scratch. Some students may like to start with a framework first.
For more on the Monkey Drum app, visit http://flippfly.com/monkeydrum/.
So far, I have only used this app with one kindergarten class. We finished our lesson very quickly; they were being great listeners and following directions! We had completed all the activities in my lesson plan and still had about 10 minutes left. So, I opened the Monkey Drum app and had them echo some simple rhythms with quarter notes and eighth note pairs. First, I played some rhythms and let the students watch the monkey be the echo. Then, I asked the kids to help the monkey when it was his turn to echo. After a few examples, I had individual students come up to play a rhythm on the monkey drum. I would tell them a rhythm and they would try to play it on the drum. When the monkey would echo it back, it was a great way for the class and the student to hear what they did and evaluate their performance. Most of them could hear right away if the rhythm was not exactly what I had originally performed. On this particular day, I was just using the app as a time filler, but I immediately made a mental note to use it as an assessment tool in the future. I can watch the students performing rhythms (either by echoing me or by reading notation).
With the older students, I think the Song Maker feature would be great for composition. First, the students could compose rhythms (or even a short melody) on paper. After I graded their work, they could try to notate it on the Song Maker. Obviously, not every student would have time to try it on the app if I only have one iPad. However, as I was introducing the Blob Chorus app to the students I started polling the students asking them who had an iPod touch at home. More than half in each class would raise their hands. I bet the students would love a chance to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). If I attempt this, I will let you know how it goes.
My 2-year old daughter also loves this app! She loves to take turns playing with the monkey and she loves to feed the monkey the bananas. But, I think her favorite thing to do is to check the mail! She loves to open the mail and try to read the letter. This app can entertain a wide range of ages!