It’s too bad that nominations for our “Best Music Teacher Replacement” category are closed, because we definitely have a contender on our hands: Smule is out with an update to its popular Ocarina app that lets users play an approximation of the ancient flute-like instrument, and it includes a nifty lesson mode that makes it easy for anyone and everyone to figure out how.
The original version of the Ocarina app — which launched in 2008 and has 6 million users — allowed users to play tunes on their iPhones by blowing into the device’s microphone and and tapping “holes” on the screen. The new version, however, takes a more instructive approach with its “Play!” mode.
In this mode, users can learn to play any song with a light-up score that shows you where to tap and when — and for how long. The app comes pre-loaded with four starter songs, but ambitious users can purchase more — selections range from Neon Trees’ “Animal” to the Jurassic Park theme song. Additional songs will cost you, however — unless you score enough points (by mastering tunes) to get more songs pro bono.
The app also features a freestyle mode, allowing you to play whatever you wish, which was how the original app — still in existence — functions. Ocarina 2 also allows users set up their profiles — via Facebook login or email — where they can adjust instrument settings, including mic sensitivity and reverb, and switch to “Whistle mode” (which is just what it sounds like).
The app is pretty social as well as being instructive. It features a “World” view that lets you zoom in to see what other users can playing around the globe, as well as “Like” and comment on their songs. You can also share your favorites across your social networks and listen to playback of songs you’ve played after completion.
Now excuse us, we’re aiming to master “Amazing Grace” by lunchtime.