Music History and Other Cool Sites

Educators have found that interaction is key in teaching important lessons that may be otherwise hard to understand and cover. On the internet, interaction can be harder to achieve, since it’s a relationship between a screen and a stranger. When it comes to educating children, the task becomes even harder, working with such small attention spans and unpredictable imaginations. The following websites pull it off, though, and manage to find that special touch to keep things interesting for children and adults.


This website has a very broad focus on history and science for kids. It covers a seemingly unlimited amount of information, from international history to the sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics. Kidipede also includes a detailed history of music, starting all the way from the beginning: 3100 BC. The language is simplified so that any interested child can learn about ancient Egyptian, African, Greek, and Chinese music. Additionally, the site always produces related pages on its sidebar, so that one could keep learning about music (or any other subject) even further. A few article pages look like works in progress with to-be-filled links and lists, signifying that there will be even more lessons and material to come in the future as the site expands.

The site itself has numerious cool interactive “flip card” animations on various links. The animation is very smooth and eye-catching, and triggered when the mouse hovers over it. On the front of the card is an intriguing question, such as “Who was the first woman pharaoh?” Once flipped, it reveals an image related to the answer of the question and becomes a clickable link. In a Wikipedia-esque manner, many keywords are highlighted and hyperlinked in every article for further learning and understanding on other pages. There are also many other card questions on the sidebar, leaving the visitor with unlimited access to all areas of information. The knowledge on Kidipede is completely free, but there is a $15 subscription available to remove the advertisements.

by Olivia Lin

Classical Archives

Fittingly named “The Ultimate Classical Music Destination,” Classical Archives caters to the passionate classical music appreciator. This website gives its visitors wide access to its enormous archive of classical music online. The best feature of this website is how easy it is to simply browse for music. There are many ways to sort selections: by period, performer, composer, or keyword. Each of these sorting options is available for further selection at every step of a viewer’s search. This makes it so that whether one is searching specifically for a title or just browsing through whatever interests them, the listener can always find the perfect track.

This website is particularly useful to students of music. Providing simple access to anything and everything they are studying, this site also allows the user to just as easily look into related music and performances or perhaps something that a teacher mentioned. There is also a fun and interesting scrolling bar at the top of the site that updates to show the most popular tracks that have been listened to recently. The website also features and sells CDs of various classical artists and performances from past decades to the present. Free users only get access to 60 seconds of each track in the archive; subscriptions are required for full access and cost $7.99/month or $87.89/year, granting access to the full track. There is a 10% discount off for purchases, and downloaded either a computer, tablets or a smart phone.

by Olivia Lin

Choral Public Domain Library

ChoralWiki is the Wiki page that acts as the homepage for the Choral Public Domain Library. In true Wikipedia style, the website offers a huge database of information and material with a decent amount of subcategories for browsing. Like most wiki pages, it is a listing, but it works well enough. ChoralWiki offers a vast selection of choral sheet music—for choirs of all types, compositions, and ages, as well as many profiles and biographies of composers.

Like all Wiki pages, anyone is able to contribute scores, information, and material. There is also a useful forum for posting and discussing questions, suggestions, and requests for sheet music, scores, or transcriptions. All of the material is downloadable for free, and the option of viewing a printable version makes it practical. With 12,750 available works, there’s something here for everyone.

by Olivia Lin

Big Ears

Among jazz musicians, someone with very good ears is said to have “big ears.” On that thought, the Big Ears website is a simple online ear training program that’s completely free. It quizzes the listener on intervals by playing a random interval with a random starting pitch. The listener then must choose which interval was played. The training is meant to improve interval recognition skills of anyone that tries it. The listener has complete control over the difficulty level. Such as, the person can choose the number of intervals that the program will pull from in the quiz; beginners can choose fewer possible answers to make it easier and advance at their own pace.

The process is stress free; listeners are allowed as many guesses as they need. To have access to the applet that runs the program, one’s browser must be compatible with Java and have Java installed. The notes are all sampled with a real piano, so the sounds don’t sound digital or articifical. The website and applet have been around since 1996 and is still so useful; this is a skill set that doesn’t change in importance or significance with time and really will stay with one forever.

by Olivia Lin

New York Philharmonic Kids

This highly interactive website gives kids a behind-the-scenes look online of what goes on behind the performance and the music—enough to satisfy a child’s wild curiosity after, perhaps, attending or listening to a performance. The site is extensive. There is a section with facts and a fun Q&A with the orchestra’s star musicians—presented as cartoons, a special look into the background and merits of the soloists and conductors of the New York Philharmonic, and even music themed games like MusiQuest, Percussion Showdown, and Make Your Own [music] Instrument. For further education, there is a section with much information on famous composers from history. The interactive composing online workshops are for all the different aspects of composing and are also entertaining.

The website is well designed, and almost every part of it is interactive. Features like the daily music-related poll that asks simple questions like “What is your favorite tempo?” make everything about music fun. Efforts like this can inspire children. By making it relatable, kids see this world of the symphony orchestra as engaging and somewhere perhaps they could see themselves performing in the future.

by Olivia Lin