BBC Musical Mysteries and the Project Unison game (app for iPhone)

These games are both on the shorter side so I decided to review both of them.

BBC Musical Mysteries:

The BBC Musical Mysteries game is online and was designed for the Northern Ireland Schools music curriculum standards for age 7-11. Musical Mysteries is a web-based game that has a series of activities/mini games. There are links to lesson plans and ways teachers can incorporate the games into their classroom. I know that is meant for Northern Ireland, but I still found it very educational and applicable.

There is exposition through animation that introduces you to the activities. The characters you are introduced to are Robbie, Curly (the dog) and Grandpa. Grandpa is a conductor and asks for Robbie and Curly’s help because he has lost the music for the show he has to conduct that night. You then learn that there are six activities to complete and hidden within one of these activities is the music that grandpa is missing.

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One of the activities is called “Sound Search” in which you interactively learn about sounds in nature and have to recognize if they have a steady beat. It is a matching and listening game. In the next game, you learn about rhythm. Robbie and Curly are in a cave and you get to play with the sounds they are hearing to create your own set of percussive rhythms. The next activity is about mood music and interactively learning about how music makes us feel or what different types of music evoke certain emotional qualities. The next section is interactive facts. It shows vocabulary associated with an orchestra and descriptions of the different roles and sections that make up an orchestra. The final section is the quiz section where you are tested on the knowledge you learned in the set of activities.

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The skills involved included critical thinking, memorization, recognition of sounds, repetition of sounds, and some musical knowledge. The main objective is to help Robbie and Curly find the hidden music notes, but the objective of each different activity varies. Students need to have a very basic understanding of rhythm to be successful at this game.


The game utilizes the self-knowledge principle, the material intelligence principle, the transfer principle, the just-in-time principle, the semiotic principle, and the critical learning principle. During each activity, you are also given immediate rewards/recognition when you complete a task or get a puzzle correct. The principle that stands out to me the most is the just-in-time principle, as the game delivers a lot of information that is then needed shorty after for the puzzles.

I really enjoyed this game. It is not the correct age level for the grades I would like to teach, but I certainly think it is a great tool for the classroom. As I stated earlier, it is meant for Northern Ireland, but I think it is extremely applicable in the U.S. The website itself has lesson plays and ideas for how to incorporate the activities into the classroom.

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Project Unison (iPhone app)

Project Unison is for more advanced musical students. It is designed in an arcade game style. It is your mission to collect harmonic orbs from the note nebula. Your eyes help you at first, but as you enter the “nebula” (and it gets much harder) you need to rely on your ability to recognize musical intervals with your ears.

The player listens to the notes emitted by the orbs and identify the interval (from the base note) to catch them. When you miss ten orbs, the mission will end and you will return to base. As you keep playing the game, you are training your ears while simultaneously trying to get a better high score. Whether you are a novice, or a seasoned musician, each time you beat your last high score, you will be genuinely improving your musicality and understanding of intervals.

You need to have a basic knowledge of intervals before beginning this game. An interval is the difference between two pitches, and interval ear training is a vital element of understanding music theory. The game utilizes memorization and repetition. When you do not get an interval correct, it repeats until you do.

This game utilizes the practice principle, the probing principle, the “regime of competence” principle, and the achievement principle. The principles that I believe are the most utilized are the practice principle and the probing principle. The game has an addictive quality because you become competitive against yourself and your highest score. You want to continue to play it, which is just the continuation of ear training. This try-try-again mentality is a clear example of the probing principle and the practice principle in use.

I like this game. It can get pretty frustrating and tiring after a while. However, with the usage of cellphones these days, I think teachers could benefit from encouraging kids to download the game as a tool they could utilize on the go or at home to pass some time. The gamer type kids could probably easily become addicted to this game, and may even forget they were training their ears while immersed in it.