EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Twin Cities tech company is breaking new ground with a new app designed to teach kids how to play an instrument.

The At Play Music app for Apple iPad looks more like a game than a lesson.  It was designed by Emmy Award-winning animators in Eden Prairie.

“What we’ve designed is an interactive video game that after you’ve succeeded in it, you’ve actually learned something, you can actually play an instrument,” says At Play Music Co-Founder Layton “Skip” James.

The app teaches pitch, notes, technique and more. To make it fun, the app uses games and characters.

“I don’t care what the best technology is, if you’re not having fun using it, you’re going to lose (the student),” says Co-Founder Gary Meyer.

To test out the beta version of the software, fifth and sixth graders at Heritage Middle School in West St. Paul tried it out. Heritage is one of the few schools in the country where each student is given an iPad for their studies.

Right away, the graphics and characters in the app had their attention. The students said they’d never seen an app like it.  It starts with a short game to learn the parts of the recorder.

“I like the fact that they got right into playing,” says music teacher Sue Bujold. “That’s the first thing any student will want to do when you put an instrument in their hand is play it.”

“I think it’s cool,” said one student.  “It’s a good way to learn but it’s also fun.”

The app will be available for download on iTunes later in May. It costs $3.99. At Play Music plans on developing software to teach 35 different instruments, including guitar, drums and voice.

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