What It Is
You don't have to know how to play the piano to play the piano. At least you don't with the Magic Piano app. This free app lets players make music and share their performances. Choose the song you want to play and as beams of light fall from the top of the screen, tap them with your fingers to hear the notes that make up the song. The song choices range from pop (Lady Gaga) and rock (Meatloaf) to classical and even music from movies and musicals. New songs are regularly added.
Playing the songs in Game Mode allows you to unlock achievements and special songs. You can also earn Smoola, which you'll need to access other songs within the app and change the instrument from grand piano to harpsichord or one of the 16 other instrument sounds available. Players can also earn Smoola by purchasing it within the app (packages range from $2.99 to $99.99) or by performing "free" tasks such as watching a video, signing up for Netflix, or visiting a company's Facebook page. Every day there is a new free song to download and play.
Once you've played through an entire song, the app will ask if you want to share your performance. Players can broadcast their performances or listen to other players' songs in the Smule Globe or share their performances through Facebook, Twitter, or email.
There is also a Solo Mode where players can make up their own songs by tapping anywhere on the screen to hear piano notes or choosing one of the two piano keyboards (spiral or horizontal) and tapping on the keys.
Why It’s Fun
Magic Piano is not an app that will teach you how to play the piano. It's more along the lines of a Rock Band or Guitar Hero. It's fun to make up your own songs in Solo Mode and to try and earn achievements and Smoola in Game Mode. There is a bit of a learning curve to this app. When it's only one light beam falling down at a time, it seems easy. But then all of a sudden, three and four light beams will fall at the same time and you'll need to use three or four fingers to hit them at once. There also aren't that many free songs in this app, so unless you spend money on Smoola, you won't be able to play many songs or change instruments.
Who It’s For
Magic Piano is age-graded for 4 and up.
If your child wants to share his performances on Facebook and Twitter, remember that Facebook has a minimum age of 13 to open an account. Children will have to use a parent's Facebook account. Twitter has no minimum age, but it also has no effective filtering system other than flagging questionable links.
Also, the "free" ways to earn Smoola require a child to access the internet and, in some cases, enter personal information. Parents are strongly advised to monitor their children's online activities.
What To Be Aware Of
Magic Piano is available for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch (3rd generation), iPod Touch (4th generation), and iPad. It requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Without Smoola, Magic Piano isn't that exciting. Kids will want to play all of their favorite songs, but getting those songs requires Smoola and getting Smoola requires money and/or completing "free" tasks, both of which some parents might be wary of letting their children do. Kids can return to the app every day, however, to see what the day's free song will be and grow their piano library with just the free songs.