Saturday, April 17, 2010

iEAR App Review: ThumbJam music app

App Title:  ThumbJam
Grade Level: Late Elementary to Adult

Purpose: A
ThumbJam is an outstanding music app for the novice who just likes to jam to the professional musician.
Program Functionality: A+
This app has great controls that make it easy to play. Simply choose an instrument, select a scale, and tap or slide your thumb or fingers over the screen. You can use multi-touch to play harmony and chords, and each instrument has additional controls for pan, volume, tremolo, etc. which are activated by tilting or shaking. Optionally, you can load a drum loop and play along with it.
There are 30+ realistic sounding instruments available and more can be downloaded or created/sampled by the user. There are 15 drum loops ranging in style from pop/rock/hip to world music (Hispanic, African, Asian) available for download. 100+ scales in nine different categories are included with the option to create your own scales. All sessions can be recorded and saved, then reloaded and new instruments layered onto the loop.
For the advanced user, there are many options and controls for creating/editing effects, collaborating through bluetooth, and transferring your loops, sessions and sample sets to your computer via WiFi.

Overall Educational Value: B
This is an outstanding app for personal use and would be very useful especially for older students, but is priced rather high for purchase by most public schools.

Cost: $6.99

Recommendation: If you like to jam and experiment with music and don't mind the $6.99 price tag then this is an excellent and fun app. It is also an excellent tool for professional musicians to create music on or be able to play instruments that they don't own or want to haul around.
I can also also recommend it for use in secondary music and music technology classes as a tool for creating loops and samples and enjoying in jam sessions.

Classroom Use Examples / Ideas: With younger students, selecting a pentatonic scale allows them to jam together and all of the notes and harmonies sound great together.
Older students can create very sophisticated loops and samples and use them in other programs (such as Audacity or Aviary/Myna) to create their own compositions. They could also form ensembles or bands for performances.
As an instrumental director, I could use this app to demonstrate a passage of music or possibly to add an instrument to an ensemble that is not available.
Developer Website:
ITunes LinkClick Here

Reviewer Name: Susan Hurst (musicwms)

Other: As a music teacher, I've had a lot of fun experimenting with this app. I've been playing with it for about a week, and I've barely scratched the surface of its capabilities.

Hey, check out our Ning (Online Community) devoted to helping teachers utilize these devices to the their fullest.  Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or have other creative uses for this app in the classroom, etc.