Study after study shows that playing music is extraordinarily beneficial to children. In one recent report, researchers found that playing music had significant behavioral effects, from improved executive function and working memory, to increased focus, to increased ability to cope with emotions and anxiety. Yet, more and more students aren’t taking part, whether due to cuts to arts education in schools, the high cost of lessons, lack of interest, or other factors.
Luckily, there are a number of great music education websites and apps which can engage kids of all ages in learning everything from playing an instrument, to composition and music theory, to music history and appreciation.
12 Great Music Education Apps, Games, and Websites
This iOS app teaches young children to create and edit melodies with just the swipe of a finger. By playing in the Tune Train world, kids begin to learn about the fundamental structure of music, including pitch, notes and note length, and chords. Free
This fun iOS app teaches kids 3-7 some of the fundamental components of music, including notes, rhythm and pitch. $1.99
For iOS and Android devices, this is a complete ear training program in an app. Ideal for kids who are already learning an instrument or who sing in choir, the app aims to “introduce essential musical elements and concepts and help the student identify those elements by ear.” $2.99
This iOS app includes 39 animated music theory lessons. This is a great option for older kids for whom the above apps are too basic or juvenile. All the lessons are also available for free on the website as well, a good option for those without an Apple device. $2.99
This Android app offers quizzes and lessons for music students learning to sight read. A paid version offers additional features. For Apple users, Music Tutor Free offers similar functionality. Free
Use this iOS app with your real, acoustic piano or keyboard, or use the touchscreen option on your device. The app introduces a game component to learning piano, motivating kids to want to practice. Learn to play classical and popular songs, practice sheet music reading, and more. Free, with optional subscription and in-app purchases
Websites and Games
Created by a middle school band teacher, this site offers a huge selection of online music games and quizzes as well as worksheets and lessons. Free
This site from the NY Philharmonic Orchestra includes lots of fun music-themed games and quizzes, as well as interactive introductions to famous composers, conductors, and musicians. Other symphonies, including the San Francisco Symphony and Dallas Symphony Orchestra also have websites for kids with games and lessons—your own local symphony may have one too! Free
Whether your child is already a drummer or is interested in drumming and you’re not quite ready to buy a drum kit, this site is a great resource. Play virtual drums, try a drum game, or take a lesson. Free
Music games and quizzes test students knowledge of notes, lines and spaces of the treble and bass clef, ear training, guitar, and more. Free
Dedicated to teaching kids about classical music and music composition, this site offers music games, quizzes, lesson plans, a weekly podcast, and a “Composer of the Month” feature. Free
This game was recommended to me by a music teacher, though it’s likely better for older kids and teens. Rocksmith is a music video game—like Guitar Hero or Rock Band—but it actually teaches you to play guitar. The game comes with a cable to plug any electric guitar or bass into PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation® 4 system or PlayStation® 3 system. It’s the most expensive option on this list—on par with new video games for these systems—but still a bargain compared to lessons. $79.99
Would you like to expand your child’s musical ability and knowledge even more? K12 offers complete online music courses for grades K-8, as well as songs and music lessons for preschoolers through the Embark12 preschool program. To learn more, visit K12.com or contact the enrollment team at (877) 895-1754.