Humans by nature are musical beings — most people you meet will admit they love music. As a music therapist, I encourage all parents I know to get their kids a drum and a keyboard, no matter their age or level of ability. And now I have to tell them (and you) to have a look at ThumbJam, an app for iPhone and iPad.
ThumbJam is an app so sophisticated that even musical professionals would love to use the app for composition, recording, and performance — it really is beyond a toy or just an app, and it’s a musical tool that can transform music lovers into budding musicians.
There is honestly so much that can be done with this app, you would almost need a manual to explain all of its potential. At its most basic, the screen includes a series of bars that when tapped make a sound. You can shake or turn your device to create vibrato and other effects. Menus on the corner and off to the side give you room to maneuver the app.
ThumbJam uses high-quality instrument samples, meaning you are triggering an actual recording of an instrument when you tap a key. The app includes several instruments, even some you might not have heard of:
- Electric and Acoustic Guitars
- Electric Bass
- String instruments like Cello, Viola, Violin, and Upright Bass
- Drum Kits and World drums, including Djembe and Darabukka
- Brass instruments such as Trumpet and Trombone
- Tenor Sax
- Folk instruments like the Dulcimer or Mandolin
- Keyboard instruments such as Piano, Organ, Rhodes
- Sin Waves
New instruments are posted regularly and available for download. In addition to the instruments, you can choose which scales to use, and each scale has a distinct sound to it. You can also create your own custom scales.
ThumbJam includes recording and playback functions, and you can share your audio with your friends via SoundCloud and social media sites. The app includes many features that are similar to those you would find in professional audio and recording software and tools.
Beyond the technical sides of this app, what uses does it have for special needs in particular? The app at its most basic is effortless — the sounds and music you can create with it are incredible and almost anyone can use it. For individuals with physical disabilities, ThumbJam gives them the ability to create music. Music is an amazing form of self-expression (both verbal and non-verbal) and creativity, and it involves auditory, visual, and tactile experiences. The app will appeal to musicians and non-musicians, to adults and children and everyone in between.
The app might seem overwhelming at first, but have a look at ThumbJam’s website for a user guide, or just explore and see what you can create. ThumbJam is available for (drumroll, please) $6.99.