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Children's Software Review:    Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker: The Music Game

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This delightful CD-ROM fills a gap in children's software--a musical one! It offers unique opportunities for kids to explore the world of music and musical instruments. Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker the Music Game is a wonderful find. Children actively exercise musical memory and audio discrimination skills as they work their way through exceptional puzzles and games. 

The mission in this CD-ROM is to save the Nutcracker by playing and winning 9 games. These vary quite a bit in both difficulty level and time commitment. Children need to win 9 magic keys in order to break the spell that turned the handsome prince into a wooden doll. 

The star of the program is the Nutcracker Game. In this activity, there are musical puzzles behind a number of doors. Each door features a song, such as The Russian Dance and the Flower Waltz, and children must listen carefully to the piece as they determine which 4 of 8 given musical instruments are used. Children need to experiment with the different instruments and listen to them on the stage as they take on this challenge. It's a wonderful exercise! 

Another outstanding game is called the Nuthouse. Children must listen to a song, such as the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, and then figure out which distorted song attached to each "funhouse" mirror is a match! This is a wonderful exercise in audio discrimination. The Orchestra Game is another treat. Children match musical sounds to the correct instruments, such as the french horn and cymbals. As they do, a character plays the instrument on stage. At the end of the exercise, the fully orchestrated song plays and the characters and instruments are highlighted at the appropriate times when it does. This exercise gives children a sense of the parts that make up the whole orchestra. 

Other activities: The MusiCards game is essentially a memory game using musical sounds; Find Me on the Tree challenges kids to match musical phrases; the Funky Monkey Game involves repeating notes on the vibraphone; Loopy Tunes is a game of musical loops; Music Trivia presents a series of multiple-choice questions about music and instruments. Children can enter the Listening Room to hear music featured in the program, such as the Chinese Dance or Arab Dance. A musical encyclopedia depicts and describes each musical instrument. 

Throughout the game, a number of kid-friendly characters are associated with each musical instrument. For example, a giraffe plays the oboe, a zebra plays the bassoon, and a hippo plays the harp.

We have some minor complaints. For one, we wish there was a sign-in feature that would allow more than one child to work through their own saved game. We also found the sound effect for a wrong answer a little harsh! Otherwise, this game is very recommendable. We were delighted to watch as kids worked through the musical puzzles. At first, the challenge was difficult. Gradually, however, through experimentation, they became better at discerning which instruments were playing. Memory skills also got a big workout. This is a beautifully done title--very original.

**For more information or to buy: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker The Music Game

  • Excellent musical puzzles and games.
  • Presents a wonderful introduction to Tchaikovsky and his music.
  • Educationally stimulating and fun.
  • Original program that fills a gap in children's software.


  • Sign-in feature is missing.
  • The sound effect for a wrong answer is a tad harsh.



For Windows By: Music Games International  Ages 7-11 Published: 2002


Our Rating:


To buy:

Buy: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker The Music Game 

Reviewed November 2002
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