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★★★ Open House ★★★
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© 2017 Lucas Zanotto

CTR Review
Ease of Use
Design Features
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
For ages 3-9
For grades P, K, 1, 2, 3, 4
Teaches: music, scales, math, creativity, pitch, rhythm
Note 6/6/2018: Bandimal was named winner of the 2018 Apple Design Award. We've updated the review.

Tricky but empowering and fun -- this sound mixing experience turns your iPad or iPhone into an eight bar mixing machine. It comes from respected app creator/musician Lucas Zanotto (see Loopimal or miximal).

After you tap an animal, you see a confusing mix board, full of controls. It's easy to make a looping mess, but the app is saved by its responsive graphics and your ability to undo whatever you do. We especially liked how the animals animated moves exactly mark the rhythms. Content includes nine animals, each with a different voice, a set of drum tracks, the ability to switch between loop speeds and effects.

The interface was inspired by the five note thumb piano (Kalimba) which uses a pentatonic scale. Rhythmically, the app uses eight beat bars, creating a lot of right angles. As a result, there are nice overtones of mathematics.

The genius of this experience is that while it is complicated, everything can be quickly reversed; making it easy to tinker and debug. The resulting musical loops can range greatly; but things tend to sound good. Work is saved automatically.

Need to know: Use this experience to help children discover sound/math/numerical relationships. It is an amazing musical sandbox that lets you make musical/mathematical connections as you play. Designed to work with iPads and iPhones with iOS 10 or later.

Video: Meet Lucas Zanotto, creator of this app -->
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This app has been popular at my library, but the younger kids (preschool age) get a little frustrated because it is very sensitive. It is very easy for them to accidentally tap back to the main screen (with three animals displayed) while they are trying to alter the bars in the Kalimba interface. They end up wondering what the app is supposed to do. This especially happens when two kids are playing together. The mixing board screen is busy and a bit confusing, but all in all this is a well done app.
Regarding age, I think the colors and animals attract a younger audience, but the older kids seem engaged on a deeper level. I noticed a couple of 12 year olds mixing music with it at the library the other day. They had seen it the day before and came back especially to play it. Likewise my 13 year old daughter was impressed with how fun the app is.