Nurture your inner musical genius.
Edutainment is such a taboo word. Games that also teach are a difficult genre to master. Many have tried and most have failed in a big way. Now, stepping onto the stage, we have Music, from Nobilis, on the Nintendo DS. Will this title pull off an epic performance? Or will the crowds leave before the show even starts?
Teaming up with Shiro Tsuji, teacher, musician, conductor and author of the best selling Japanese book, “Everyone Can Read Music”, Nobilis have developed a game that will, hopefully, bring out the musician in all of us. Using methods that are directly inspired by Shiro Tsuji’s book, Music (AKA Montessori Music in the US) will leave the student with a basic knowledge of music theory.
From the main menu, the player can access a number of different modes. Lesson mode and Glossary are where the majority of the learning will take place. In Lesson mode, the player can start with learning about pitches and discover how to read music. The lessons are relatively small and simple, breaking the learning up into easy to digest chunks. The glossary is where the player can find out about music terminology. Both of these sections are topped off with tests that will show how much the player has actually learnt, andÂ the tests in lesson mode will reward them with credits.
These credits can be used to buy musical scores, that can then be played in performance mode. The instrument of choice here is the piano and there are 65 different songs to purchase and play. There is a chord chart included for both the piano and guitar, offering a handy reference tool. The calendar offers a simple way to keep track of your lessons and achievements.
Enjoy mode is probably where most kids will head first. In here the players will find four mini games, designed to be fun whilst still teaching. The games offer activities such as keeping a rhythm, reading music and identifying noted that are out of key.
The holy grail of the edutainmant genre is to create a game that is so much fun that kids do not realise that they are learning. On the educational front, Music does a good job. Kids will certainly learn from this title. I cannot say how well the subjects covered will fit in with school curriculums, but there is a place for softwareÂ like this within educational establishments, of that I am sure.
As for the other half of the edutainment equation, the actual entertainment, sadly Music falls short. The main aspects of the game are far too “teachy” and even the mini games, which were themselves far too few, never once tried to camouflage the fact that I was learning, not playing.
I can see this game being best suited towards kids aged seven to nine. Their reading skills should be at a high enough level to follow the lessons and pick up the terminology. But, even at this age, they will not be tricked, by this game, into thinking that they are not learning. Passing this game off as a treat will not work. But it will teach them about music, which is the objective, right?
As an educational tool, Music performs very well, offering a decent learning curve across the various aspects of the subject matter. As a game though, actually going to music lessons would be more fun. A valiant effort, but falling short on the entertainment factor.