Piano Dust Buster - Song Game

Piano practice has never been so fun! Cleverly scaffolded piano practice sessions lead to performances, all of which earn the player points. The app has a digital keyboard for playing when you're on the go, or enable the acoustic piano feature and the game will interact with your live instrument. Chock-full of funny-looking characters and gamified incentives, you don't need to read too far between the musical lines to see that there's a walloping amount of learning going on.

K - Higher Ed Visual & Performing Arts 96 Views 29 Downloads
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App Overview

Piano Dust Buster is designed to make learning piano fun, and it does a great job of it. A funny little cartoon granny uses a broom to swipe away at a variety of animated germs before user touches the piano keys, giving the player cues as to which notes to play.

Getting Started:

There are several selections to make before the practice begins:

  1. On the home screen, tap Jukebox 
  2. Select Starter Pack (this is free, while all other packs must be purchased)
  3. Choose a game mode: Simple or Staff
    • Simple is is more highly scaffolded:
      • No staff bar appears as you play
      • Notes to play are directly below the germ you're trying to swat
      • Fewer keys appear on the screen
    • Staff is more advanced and allows for different levels of scaffolding (described below):
      • The germs appear on the appropriate place on the staff bar
      • The germs can have a note listed next to them as a helpful hint, or this feature can be turned off by tapping the icon of a germ with the letter C 
      • Notes also appear on the keyboard
      • Keys are smaller because more of them appear on the screen
  4. Select a song to play:
    • Songs are organized by difficulty level
    • A progress column notes the number of stars (one-three) and the number of points that have been accumulated through Practice and Showtime
    • Until lower difficulty songs are practiced, higher difficulty songs are not available
  5. Choose Practice or Showtime (described below)

Once you've made all the above selections, you're ready to play! 

Playing the Game:

Practice:

  1. Tap the Practice button and wait for the song to load
  2. If playing on a live piano, tap Enable Acoustic Piano
  3. As the screen states, tap the green key to get started
  4. Granny will be waiting by the key where a germ is about to fall
  5. When the germ gets to the line just above the keys, tap the key:
    • If the key is pressed too soon, the germ will wait at the line until the correct key is pressed
    • If a few seconds pass, the key that needs to be pressed will highlight
    • The germs fall at the tempo the song is supposed to be played at
  6. At any time, press the Pause button to suspend play; from the pause screen, you can do a few things:
    • Tap Play to continue the game
    • Choose Help to bring up the How to Play screen, which gives one sentence of direction with a visual to demonstrate as well
    • Select Menu to return to the home screen
    • Press Replay to start the same song over again
  7. Once the game is finished, a final score page appears, giving an accuracy percentage and a count of how many hints (when the key highlighted) were given
  8. Press the Forward button to see the points you earned:
    • The more points that are earned, the higher level the player will have
    • From this screen you can do three things:
      1. Tap the Menu button to go to the home screen
      2. Select the Replay button to practice the song again
      3. Press the Performance button (a green star) to go to the performance mode of play

Showtime:

Once the song has been practiced and polished, it's time to perform! The basic functionality is the same as described above in Practice, although there are a few differences, as noted below. 

  • Unlike practice, no hints appear in this playing mode, and the pace of the germs is based on the actual tempo of the game, versus being controlled by when you tap the appropriate keys.
  • A metronome appears in the upper-right corner during play and pulses to indicate the correct tempo
  • Encouraging words like cool and awesome appear as notes are played at the right time
  • Along with the final score, the results page includes the number of notes correctly played, the number of mistakes, and a percentage of how accurate timing was during Showtime

 

 

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Instructional Ideas

  • Incorporate math into the learning with a discussion on the fractions that will be encountered when counting time on a piano
  • For music teachers, this is a shoe-in for an individual practice time option
Classroom Considerations

  • Have headphones at-the-ready to prevent the music from disrupting other learners
  • A prompt to link to Facebook opens the first time the app is used; open the app and connect to your class Facebook page or skip this step before putting the tablet in the hands of learners
Pros

  • The animations serve not just as entertainment, but more importantly, as learning guides
  • The app allows you to use a live instrument or play on the keyboard itself, making it flexible enough to use at home or on the go
  • Performance mode gives feedback on a variety of aspects of play, including timing
Cons

  • None