Morton Subotnick’s “Playing Music” (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Thursday, February 14, 2008

Graphics: 7.00
Sound: 9.00
Gameplay: 10.00
Replays: 10.00
Gamelength: 9.00

Do you have a child? If so, is your child interested in music? If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, then Morton Subotnick’s “Playing Music” might be just what your child needs.

Infomercial intro aside, Morton Subotnick’s “Playing Music” is a charming and easy way to teach young children the basics of music. It runs on nearly any computer, which includes both PC and Mac and it’s quite cheap. Your children will not only learn how to read and compose their own tunes out of existing sheet music, but they’ll also be able to copyright their edited tunes as well. This is actually a really impressive tool for any children interested in music.

The graphics aren’t very good, but they’re not supposed to be. This is a children’s learning tool, not an actual game and not modern by any means. This game does not and will not push the limits of technology. Everything is built from the ground up for children, from the interface to the hand-drawn cartoon-style characters. For the intended audience of children across the globe, the graphic design is perfect. Children love cartoons and they love talking animals, so this game delivers on the graphical front just fine.

All of the sounds are perfect for all intents and purposes. There are no real sound effects or tunes because this is more of a children’s learning tool, but the voiced characters sound like any standard children’s cartoon characters and the notes you’re given to work with all sound just as they would in reality. For what it is, everything in this package sounds delightful, even if a bit generic.

This “game” consists of several learning tools, as well as a few extra features. “Listen” mode challenges the player to listen to a piece of music and select another piece of music that matches it. In “Look” mode, you listen to a piece of music, then match it with one of two animations. In “Look & Listen” mode, you must compare various pieces of music with a symbol, then pick the best song to match the symbol. “Make It So” presents the player with a piece of music that is missing a symbol, then challenges the player to choose the missing symbol. In “What’s It Mean?”, the player must match up a musical word with the proper definition. There’s also a “Concert Hall”, which presents players with several other extras. The extras include “Auditorium”, “Lobby”, “Cinema”, “Expression Room” and “Music”. These extras give the player various other ways to learn, such as videos of classic performances. When a player is ready to test his or her knowledge, the final step is the “Expression Room”. In the “Expression Room”, players may alter various pieces of music. The only real flaw here is that it’s impossible to actually create a piece of music from scratch, but that’s not a big deal given the game does what it’s meant to do; teach children the fundamentals of music.

Overall, I truly feel that Morton Subotnick’s “Playing Music” is a wonderful and necessary learning tool for any interested child. This could be the gateway to a music-filled future!

Note: The numbered scores for this game are based on a general comparison to other children’s learning tools and games, not serious modern games.

Pros:
-Characters geared towards children.
-Familiar, even if generic voice acting.
-Plenty of ways to learn.
-Lots of information packed into one package.
-Lasting appeal.

Cons:
-Not possible to make music from scratch.
-Doesn’t include more advanced tools.

Bottom Line:
Honestly, it’s hard to pass up your child’s potential future and it’s even more difficult to turn down your child’s smile. If you’re a parent of any children that seem to have an interest in music, seeing your child smile while getting all giggly when he or she has edited their first piece of sheet music is definitely worth the money. In short: buy this if your children like music.

Overall Rating: 9.00

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