Bottom Line: Easy Song Studio — Holiday Edition is a delightful way to getting kids in the holiday spirit and get their creative juices going. Kids can quickly build a unique song and tweak it to make it their own. From changing the sound of the background music to modifying the speed or adding effects to the singing, children will have fun exploring and creating music. Though an entertaining app, the app’s claim to help kids learn English effortlessly may be a little bit of a stretch.
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What child doesn’t love making up new words to songs? Easy Song Studio — Holiday Edition by Les Trois Elles Interactive allows children to do that and more! Children get to build their own version of a song with pre-selected words and pictures and then tweak it even further by playing with the music’s speed and some sound effects. Kids can then play, save and even perform karaoke with their masterpiece.
The layout and instructions for the app are very clear. Creating a song is as easy as selecting a tile from six choices and dropping it into a blank space in the slideshow of the song. Though the App Store description recommends ages seven and up, my six-year-old had no problems navigating the app and creating songs that made him and his older sister giggle and snort.
There is only one song, but the ability to change the genre (techno beat, regular or jazzy), change out words, adjust the speed and apply sound effects lets kids make the song uniquely their own. For kids who want to focus more on modifying the sound and not picking 45 different words, there is a shuffle option where the words are preloaded randomly.
This is a really cute and entertaining app, but I wouldn't call it educational, despite the developer's insistence on advertising it that way. The App Store description emphasizes that the app is great for teaching English as a second language. I'll agree it has some good Christmas and holiday-themed vocabulary, but it’s not necessarily an app for learning another language. With pictures and all the words on screen during the karaoke section, it can surely help build vocabulary, but I think claiming that it helps kids learn a language is a bit of a stretch.
When the song is played at regular speed, without any added sound effects, the pronunciation is pretty clear. Even then, however, there were a few parts of the chorus I couldn’t quite understand until the words showed on the screen. Also, the words are all written in cursive font, which could be difficult for some children to read.
There is an option to switch to one of 15 different languages. I was very excited about this as I wanted to work with my kids to make a song in French for my grandmother. However, only the instructions are changed to the selected language. The songs and vocabulary offered remain in English. This is noted on the settings page, though I was a little disappointed there wasn’t an option to change the language of the song itself. If the developer truly wants this app to be used to teach English as a second language, it would be nice if the song was offered in just a few of the other languages. For kids learning English, it could help reinforce what they're learning if they could hear the song in their native language as well.
A large portion of the song is making a “funny list” of gifts for Santa to bring. My son found it hilarious when he put that the fish wanted a power drill for Christmas. However, it got a little long. There are 15 places to add a person or pet and their wish. After about the eighth or ninth time, I was ready to wrap up the song. I would also recommend adding a “brother” and “sister” tile to go with “mom,” “dad,” “me” and the five pets.
Once the lyrics are selected and the sounds mixed, then the child can play back his creation and even sing along. All the words are displayed across the bottom of the screen (not just the selected tiles) so it is easy to follow along. It is also possible to turn off the voice of the person singing on the app and/or the words on the screen. I think it would really add extra pizzazz if the karaoke section allowed kids to record and play back their own voices.
Anyone with a love for holiday music and kids getting silly should check out Easy Song Studio — Holiday Edition. It is a fun way to let kids get creative and possibly pick up some new vocabulary.
Rachel H. is now tempted to play Christmas carols and start decorating her house.