Mussila Music School is a new music learning app for children. Developed right here in Iceland, it makes learning music more approachable for children, by introducing them to music basics like instruments, rhythm, composition and more in the form of fun and engaging games.
The app has been enjoying noticeable success of late, having been named as the Apple App Store’s “App of the Day” in 32 countries. It currently boasts a 4.6 (out of five) rating in the US Apple App Store, so we sought to learn more about how it came to be.
A joyful approach
Margrét Júlíana Sigurðardóttir and Hilmar Þór Birgisson—a Royal Academy-trained musician, and a computer engineer and game enthusiast, respectively—began to develop the app in 2015 with funding from the Icelandic Technology Fund and the Nordic Game Institute. The pair have infused a little Iceland into the visuals, including nordic imagery, glaciers and volcanoes.
Together, they assembled a team with the goal, according to chief marketing officer Jón Gunnar Þórðarson, “to make digital music education using gaming and a joyful approach. Mussila believes in music being part of our everyday lives, and that music education should be available for everyone.”
“Mussila Music School teaches kids music through gaming and joyful exercises, and through classical music courses that keep kids motivated to learn more,” Jón continues. “At the end of each session, the student will be able to play a song and know the theory basics behind it.”
From beats to composition
According to Jón, the primary goal of the app is to make music learning fun for kids by combining traditional music theory with modern technology. The students travel through a colourful environment learning skills and theory, starting with music basics such as an introduction to the different classical instruments, all the way to more complex ventures, like reading sheet music and trying their hand at composition.
Margrét noted that some research suggests that musical education may help children learn in many other subjects. She believes many people regret ending musical education and that they did it because of the way it has been taught in the past. However, the developers understand that parents are concerned about how much time their children spend using screens, and hope the app acts as a primer and a jumping off point into playing real instruments.
Iceland’s fishy tech track record
Despite app stores being crowded and competitive marketplaces, Mussila has been spotlighted in 32 markets; an impressive milestone that Margrét takes to heart. “This is one of the most significant steps of approval that an app developer can get,” she says. “It’s something big companies that dream of; this recognition is based on value and not advertising money.”
However, the company is still a business, and money matters. Other high profile Icelandic tech startups have had early international success, but failed to build on their momentum in the long term. The recently bought-out CCP Games has survived on the longevity of its flagship MMO game, EVE Online, but fell flat when attempting to develop new projects. Another popular game app, QuizUp, overreached after early success, and ultimately folded after failing to build on their innovation. If Mussila can avoid the pitfalls of its predecessors, it could signal a new direction for the Icelandic tech and gaming industry.
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