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Making music child’s play

12 October 2012

Lyndsey Boardman

UCLan students work on innovative educational app with local musician

Games Design students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have teamed up with a local musician to create an innovative games app that teaches children how to play the piano.

Course leader Bev Bush mentored second year student Hannah Spikings and final year student Emma Smith to create the graphics for the frog themed ‘Plinky Plonk’ app.  It has been developed by musician Jane Cull to help children to learn how to play the piano and read music and is now available to download on iTunes.

Bev and the students spent six months working with Jane in addition to their studies to create the graphics for the app and were encouraged to contribute their own ideas to the project.

(L-r) Emma Smith, Jane Cull and Hannah Spikings

Hannah commented: “I’ve really enjoyed working on a live project and have learned a lot over the last six months.  Emma and I were always encouraged by Jane to share our ideas and I am really pleased with the final product. 

“The project really gave us a taste of what it’s like working in the games design industry and knowing our work has gone into a product that is now available to download on iTunes is fantastic.”

“The project really gave us a taste of what it’s like working in the games design industry and knowing our work has gone into a product that is now available to download on iTunes is fantastic.”

Jane, who is a former member of the Cambridge University Symphony Orchestra, was inspired to create the app by her two young children as she believes every child should have equal opportunity to develop musical talent.

She said: “We all worked really well together and valued each other’s input. Bev was very helpful for bringing her experience from the games industry and providing some objective input where required. Hannah and Emma were very enthusiastic and motivated which helped keep the momentum going; they provided the majority of artistic and games design expertise and without them the project would not have been possible.

“I am really pleased with the end result and that we have successfully launched it on the app store. It has received some excellent reviews which have included praise specifically around the input UCLan provided. I am hoping to be able to work with UCLan again on future projects.”

Plinky Plonk app developer Jane Cull

Other students and graduates have been involved in similar ventures that have also proved to be successful.

UCLan Games Design graduates Oliver Farrell and James Burton have teamed up with NJ Apostel, a Music Practice graduate from the University, UCLan Games Design lecturer Pete Bottomley and Ben Hill from the Manchester School of Media to create ‘Ether’. Collectively the group work as the White Paper Games team and will release their game in PC and Mac in 2013.

UCLan Games Design lecturer Aaron Foster has created ‘Routine’ along with his fellow developers and designers at Lunar Software. The game’s trailer has so far had over 100,000 online hits and has been well received by the online gaming community website Steam.