I’m always on the hunt for fantastic web apps that allow students and creatives to flourish without having to buy software or install anything. That being said, they normally come with a hefty monthly subscription. Take, for example, Soundtrap. I absolutely love this service, and in my personal opinion, it’s one of the best web-based tools for audio production to date.
Today, I want to introduce you to a free-to-use alternative that’s primarily focused on kids and students. Chrome Music Lab is a suite of educational tools that lets you learn musical theory without it being overly boring or saturated in technical detail. It’s a sandbox for expression, and it’s owned by Google. It’s also a part of the company’s Chrome Experiments which often get updated with new and interesting resources.
Now, I’m not about to say these are robust tools for music creation, but they are a great way to get your feet wet as someone who’s new to the idea of making and understanding music. In the mix, we have several options for getting started:
- Shared Piano
- Voice Spinner
- Piano Roll
- Melody Maker
While these all vary in their use and sound, the main event here is the “Song Maker” where you’ll make a song by simply adding notes via clicks on the grid. You can then share it with a web link. The most interesting part, and what I suspect will be the will be intriguing for many of you is the fact that you can plug in a MIDI keyboard or microphone to speed up production and make it more comfortable.
Don’t worry though – if you don’t have either, you can simply use the keys on your keyboard as a means of emulating an actual piano roll. Pressing the arrow keys to move, you can tap enter and backspace to create or destroy notes. Tapping the space bar plays and pauses your song.
I played around with it for a while, and I’m definitely better at the shared piano (besides having no one to play with!) as I’ve taken many years of the instrument back in school. It’s amazing how you never really forget what you’ve learned, despite having to brush up quite a bit. I let my son with Song Maker for a while, and though I won’t be teaching him to play anything but the guitar at this point, it was a really fun experience for him and gave us a few laughs.