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spacer all reviews > > > music software

Morton Subotnick's Playing Music

Viva Media

All Ages

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Playing Music arrow indentSystem Requirements

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Playing Music is an educational program that focuses on the dynamics of music, not on teaching the specific notes as in a program like Tooning Up. It teaches the player to recognize how the same song can have a very different mood when played in different ways such as loud, soft, slow, fast, choppy, or smooth. The CD includes a glossary, videos, games, and an interactive expressions workshop to help teach the relationship between dynamic and mood. "This is not a flashy game. It just gets to the point of what it is trying to teach and doesn’t spend time introducing casts of fictional characters and telling stories."

Educational Value

On videos in this interactive game, a piano master demonstrates on a piano how different dynamics create different moods of music and uses analogies to help the player understand this idea. The user can take a piece of classical music and change its dynamics by adding or taking away diminuendos, fortes, pianos, allegros, staccatos, ritardandos, etc. in an interactive expressions workshop. These formal music terms and more can be learned in the program's glossary section. After modifying the classical pieces, the player can have them performed in the concert hall to hear his or hear own creation. Lastly, games in the program test the player's understanding of dynamics by playing the same song two different ways and then asking about the differences.

Kid Appeal

"Playing Music is fun for those who really enjoy music and want to understand it better." There are no stories or exaggeratedly animated characters, just exercises to increase understanding of dynamics in music.

In the introductory video, the piano master mentions that he began piano when he was 6, not because he wanted to but because his parents insisted. Sound familiar? One of our teen reviewers noted that, "This hit home for me. If I had heard that when I was 6, I would have been amazed that he eventually grew to love piano and make music his life. My parents pushed me into piano when I was 6 as well, so I found the piano master relatable instead of just some expert showing me all that he knows."

Ease of Use / Install

Playing Music installs straight off the disk. Our reviewers encountered no complications and found the process straightforward. Program navigation is equally simple; just click on the place or room you want to enter. Once inside, verbal instructions guide the user

Best for... / Bottom-Line

Playing Music is an educational tool for better understanding the ways music can be made unique. We thought it best suited for 8-12 year-olds, but it should work for almost anyone with an interest in playing music.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other Music software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the product.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 233 MHz or faster cpu, 128 MB RAM, CD-ROM, sound card .

Mac: OS 9/10, 400 MHz PowerPC GH3 or faster cpu, 128 MB RAM, CD-ROM .

Reviewed on:
-     Pentium 4 - 3GHz running Windows XP, with 1GB RAM and 24x - CD-ROM
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