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Melody Jams app review

melody-jams-title-screenSimilar in structure to Toca Boca’s Toca Band (but both a little less substantial and a little less…out there), Melody Jams (Melody Jams Inc., April 2016; iOS only) lets you rock out with your own hand-picked backup band.

Fill up to five band spots by selecting from twelve monster musicians on instruments such as guitar, double bass, violin, flute, drum set, hand drum, and keytar. As in a real-life band, each follows a unique line of the same electro-indie-sounding song. Vary the musicians and their placement to feature difference instruments and change the balance — and to really hear the individual parts and their interplay. Try, for instance, all percussion or all strings (my fave). The band members get into it, groovin’ along with their music with big smiles on their fuzzy faces.


Once you’re happy with your band’s sound, take center stage yourself — improvising on keyboard, drum set, or xylophone — by tapping a keyboard icon in the top right corner. Jam out in three settings, each with its own combination of musicians: during band practice in “the Garage” (free), on stage at “the Big Show,” or as the main event at the “Mars Disco” (both in-app purchases; Mars Disco is “coming soon”).

The brightly colored, personality-filled visuals are somewhat reminiscent of Monsters, Inc., with funny, friendly creatures clearly enjoying making music together. The tune itself is catchy but low-key, and though necessarily repetitive, the looping musical phrase never becomes crazy-making.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 8.0 or later); free for “the Garage,” $.99 for “the Big Show.” Updates with more songs and settings on the way. Recommended for preschool and primary users.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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