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Article:    Play it by Ear: Toys That Teach Music

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There is no question: babies love music. And so do toddlers, and preschoolers... music has been called the "universal language". Some studies have shown that the earlier the musical training the better. However, "training" sounds a little strict for our young children. We've compiled some musical toys that provide kids with a gentle introduction to musical composition, audio discrimination, and musical appreciation.

 

Neurosmith is an innovative "smart toy" company that produces unique musical toys designed to gently stimulate and educate children. Their Music Blocks, for example, allows children to arrange and rearrange colorful blocks. The beauty of the toy is that a musical phrase is attached to each block; and the sides of each block feature a different instrument. Children place the blocks in any order they please onto the base of the toy. There is no way to failany combination sounds wonderful. The toy comes with a Mozart cartridge, and more cartridges are available (these are sold separately). As children grow, more specific "lessons" can be experimented with. For example, parents can help children place the blocks in the original order, or ask them to reproduce a particular musical pattern. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Music Blocks Mozart Set at Amazon.com]

Also available is Musini—a system that responds to children's motion with music and flashing lights. Five musical styles are featured—from classic children's songs to Bach—and each can be played on different instruments, such as woodwinds or the grand piano. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Musini - MagicSensor at Amazon.com]

The Mozart Magic Cube is another electronic toy that invites musical experimentation and demonstrates how different instruments blend to create a classical music track. This block features large buttons on each face, five of which are dedicated to a musical instrument. The sixth face is the orchestra button—press it and the fully orchestrated tune will play out. Kids can add and subtract instruments at will. A special feature of this electronic cube is its pictures of the musical instruments on each button—a feature that helps children connect the sounds they are hearing with the actual instruments that are playing them. Also available is the Sing with Me Magic Cube. This toy is similar to the Mozart Magic Cube, except that it features classic children's songs instead of classical music.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Mozart Magic Cube or Sing With Me Magic Cube at Amazon.com]

A simple but interesting wooden toy that aids children in refining their audio discrimination skills is Listen and Match Wooden Shakers. This toy features a wooden tray with twelve little "shakers", with a distinct sound attached to each. There are six pairs of identical sounds, and a child's goal is to find the sounds that match. 

[If you are interested in buying this toy, you can run a search for it at: SmarterKids]

For the little ones, there's Smart Start Sing and Discover Piano by Vtech. It's colorful and fun, and it exposes toddlers to different musical styles, beats, instrument sounds, and more. As with most Vtech electronic toys for children, there are different modes of play. These modes can be selected so that children are learning numbers, colors, animal sounds, musical styles, and more. Cute! 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Smart Start Sing and Discover Piano at Amazon.com]


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2002
 

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