Our 8 best free music learning apps

9th May 2019
Our favourite music learning apps

We believe that engaging in music isn’t about ‘being good’, it’s about exploring creativity, being impulsive and having fun.  In recent years there has been a wave of exciting music making apps. Long gone are the days of needing a computer to become a music producer, all you need now is a smartphone or tablet.  And get this… you don’t have to understand technology to use it!  App developers realise that we are busy people, we just don’t have time to read manuals!  Subsequently most music apps are designed with you in mind, they are easy to use and before you know it you will be rockin’ out!

Finding appropriate apps can appear daunting… Where does one start?  To help steer you in the right direction we've compiled a list of free music making apps, listed in target age group and musical ability.  So whether you want to engage musically with a young one, support music education, or develop your own skills, this list should contain something for everyone.

NB: all apps reviewed are compatible with apple and/or android products.  Though free, some may contain in house adverts that can be removed with a small fee.

6 Months +

Shapes and colours With the Laugh & Learn™

iOS / Android

Top music learning apps

Shapes & Colors Music Show, babies are encouraged to learn about shapes and colours through interactions with engaging animations, sounds and sing along songs!  Baby can tap or tilt the screen to set a learning world in motion!

+    Simple to use    

-     A sensory overload, small doses recommended     

-     Limited musical and interactive capabilities

 

Kidlo land

iOS / Android

Top music learning apps

Hundreds of nursery rhymes, baby songs, stories for kids & games for toddlers, KidloLand has everything for kids under 5 years old.  Touching the screen makes cartoon characters move, change colour and generate noises.  With over 1 million users this app is clearly popular.  There are 50 free songs to engage with.  If you want to gain access to all features there is a monthly subscription.

+    Simple to use     

+    Good selection of free music     

+    Interacting is fun     

-    A sensory overload, small doses recommended     

-    Adults might become tired of the constant barrage of noise!

 

4 Years +

Magic Piano

iOS / Android

Our favourite music learning apps

Magic Piano won’t to teach you how to play piano.  It encourages users to practise fine motor skills and refine a sense of rhythm.  Depending on the difficulty selected players, tap 1 or more fingers in time with the music.  Points are scored based on the accuracy of rhythmical timing and finger placement.  Players work their way through levels, which in turn releases new music.  

Frustratingly, you are greeted with numerous popup adverts.  Although you aren’t bombarded, it is enough to break down focus and becomes a distraction.  To remove the adverts and unlock full access to songs and instruments you have to pay a fee, and an expensive one at that!  At a whopping £19.00 a month or £96.00 a year!  In my opinion this app has a positive place, to be used as a brain trainer.  To develop hand eye coordination, concentration and motor-skills.  It won’t make you a musician, but it can help support musical development through fun gameplay.  

+    Simple to use     

+    Flexible difficulties for different abilities     

+    Game play is fun and engaging     

-     Full access is staggeringly expensive     

-     Fiddly on a phone, better suited to tablets     

-     Music choices limited on free mode   

-     Popup adverts are annoying

 

Kalimba Connect

iOS / Android 

Best apps for learning music

A simple instrumental app that is easy to engage with. Users play a Kalimba (also known as a thumb piano) to a selection of musical choices.  You are guided by moving graphics which instructs you which notes to play and when.  Game play supports focus, fine motor skills and rhythmical timing.  Performance is scored by the player’s ability to play in time, the greater the accurately the higher the score.  This is a good incentive for those looking to improve time keeping and musical awareness. 

Although I personally found playing to music a little clunky it is worth noting it is extremely easy to use and would suit children from a young age.  You can also use the Kalimba as a standalone instrument which is fantastic in exploring your inner musician.  You also have the option to compose and record your own music.

+    Simple to use     

-     Calming   

-     A good introduction to world music     

-     Limited selection of western music     

-     Pop up adverts are included

 

6 Years +

Mussila

iOS / Android

Top music learning apps this year

Mussila is a fantastic introduction to music theory and music creation.  Through a variety of interactive games players learn about melody, rhythm, rhythm and musical notation.  Importantly, the knowledge and skills acquired from this app is transferable to any instrument.  Favourably, no musical experience or understanding of music is required to play this app, so adults of any musical ability can easily engage with littles ones.  Simple animation makes the Mussila easy to navigate and game play is fun too.  Of all the apps aimed at younger children this app was my favourite.  It is discretely educational, the graphics are fantastic and there are no adverts!  What’s not to like!  There is no point in writing any more, just try it for yourself!

+    Great graphics     

+    Calm game play     

+    Genuinely educational     

+    No popup adverts     

-     A sensory overload, small doses recommended     

-     Small fee to unlock all features

 

Bandblast

iOS / Android

Top music learning apps

Bandblast is quite a unique app and is the best educational app tested.  If you want help support someone leaning a new instrument* then this app is for you.  Through a number of mission’s players learn how to play and maintain their instrument.  Missions include, games that develop rhythm and pitch, and short instructional videos that detail how to correctly play and maintain instruments.  Missions are completed by correctly answering some simple questions.   Learning a new instrument can be overwhelming.  Bandblast excels by introducing music theory in bite-sized steps, so here you are empowered to progress at a pace that suits you.  You are cleverly steered away from the formality of music education and yet you still develop the appropriate skills to understand develop musicianship.  Bandblast is a really good educational tool, it also doesn’t include adverts or in app purchases.  It is suitable for students, and teachers… So what are you waiting for, get downloading!

+    Simple to use     

+    Educational and fun!     

+    Develop at your pace     

+    A unique app         

-     Only includes a limited number of traditional instruments (see below)     

-     No adverts

* alto and tenor sax, clarinet, flute, double bass, cello, viola, violin, trumpet, trombone and guitar.

 

Intermediate Musicians

The Voice

iOS / Android

Our favourite music learning apps

Essentially this is a glorified karaoke with a twist…  Using the devices camera your performance is filmed.  The performer sings along a vast selection of high-quality backing tracks.  This app is fantastic on three levels:

1) the player can rehearse and refine their inner performer (rock on!)

2) listening back to recordings enables singers to note their strengths and areas of improvement

3) recorded media can be published online.

To younger singers this app can be considered a fun output of energy engaging in the joys of performing.  For older users this app might service to help boost a public profile thanks to the apps ability to publish recorded videos online on social media.  The app usefully connects with Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.  Providing an invaluable source for aspiring performers to self-promote themselves (I would thoroughly recommend younger users use this facility under adult supervision).

+    Good quality backing tracks     

+    It’s just fun!     

+    Ability to self-promote     

+    Releases your inner performer     

-     Headphones required for best quality recording     

-     Constant adult supervision required for younger users

 

BandLab

iOS / Android

Our favourite music learning apps

Bandlab focuses on composition and production.  This is an intermediate to advance app due to the need to understand the basics of how music is composed and arranged.  That said, exploring this app is fun and you quickly learn how to apply effects, use loops and mix music.  Once you are accustomed to the interface you will have an elementary understanding of music arrangement and production. 

The app focuses on contemporary styles of music, specifically electronic music.  So, if you know someone who is interested in hip-hop, dance, electronica, pop then this might be the app for them.  A vast bank of musical instruments and loops provide limitless musical possibilities, users can efficiently explore how different musical tones work together to create fuller sounding and sometimes epic songs.  Completed compositions can be published onto an online community, where feedback and support can be provided.  Whilst online you can listen to other musician’s compositions, providing the opportunity to gain inspiration from an eclectic variety of genres.  This is a fantastic means to explore new and unknown styles of music.  

This app hands-down offers the most in musical potential without having to delve into your wallet.  You also don’t get pestered with annoying popup adverts, which us a big plus for me.

+    A great introduction to music production     

+    No popup adverts     

+    Can publish online     

+    No added costs     

-     Fiddly on a phone, best used on a tablet     

-     Interface might be too advanced for some