The 8 best electronic music toys for kids

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That said, while you can get some pretty amazing results with Pocket Operators – just check out this on-the-fly cover of Röyksopp’s “Poor Leno”, created entirely on the PO-33 – programming sequences and settings from sounds require a little patience, and previous experience with pattern-based sequencers wouldn’t hurt. Smaller children are unlikely to gain much from the instrument. (It’s also a pretty straightforward affair, essentially just a metal printed circuit board with a few buttons and an LCD display; you can consider an optional silicone case, although you would have to break the removable metal bracket on the unit. to adapt it.) But older kids will have fun typing simple grooves, and given the way children’s brains work, they’ll likely have an easier time understanding its intricacies than you. The complexity of the feature set means there really is no limit to what they can do with it, as long as they put the time into it. Do you want proof ? Veteran American breakcore producer Dev / Null premiered his new album Microjunglizm entirely on the PO-33, and it fringe.

Age range: 6+
Energy source: 2x AAA battery
The audio: Built-in speaker, headphone jack
Connectivity: CV synchronization

Teenage Engineering PO-33 Handheld KO Operator


Tasos Stamou is a musician and instrument maker who hacks, or “circuit bends”, old toys and electronic devices to make distant musical gadgets. (I haven’t really tried any of them, but they come highly recommended by friends.) Its modified Peppa Pig toy sampler adds pitch control to its multitude of preset sounds; the Paper Jamz Pro Mic Aetherial Noise Generator generates weird drones; The Computerized Arcade Melody Sequencer turns an old Radio Shack toy from the 80s into a synth and sequencer with a dub mermaid effect. If you have dreams of raising your child to be the next Dan Deacon, any of them would be a good place to start.

Age range: For older adults and young at heart adults
Energy source: varied
The audio: varied
MIDDAY : varied

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Bent Toys Circuit by Stamou Instruments


At some point in my daughter’s childhood, we discovered a silly little toy called the Tap & Play Magic Piano. Block the cables of the device in pieces of fruit (apple, banana, orange, etc.), then touch them and the toy plays a different note for each fruit. A bit of a gimmick, sure, but kids love it. (If you don’t feel like wasting fruit, you can also use Silly Putty.) They appear to have been taken off the market in the US (although the Eurekakids in Spain still have them). But Playtron from Playtronica takes over the same functionality and, together with its computer application, allows you to use objects (fruits, vegetables, glasses of water, houseplants) as an ad hoc MIDI controller for sampling, performance. and sound sequencing. It’s more expensive than the Tap & Play Magic Piano, but the creative possibilities are considerably greater.

Age range: 3+ (with parental assistance)
Energy source: n / A
The audio: Only via computer (or tablet / phone)
MIDDAY : MIDI output

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Honestly, you can’t go wrong with a simple Casio keyboard, and this model, which has been around for a while, is a great place to start. Don’t let the model numbers confuse you: the SA-76 has an orange base, the SA-77 has a gray base, and the SA-78 has a pink base. It was one of the first musical purchases we made once my daughter got past the xylophone and shaker stage, and we still get a lot of use from it. The keys are sized for small hands, but the 44 key length (three and a half scales, basically) provides a nice range. There are 100 preset sounds to choose from, ranging from piano and organ sounds, reeds and guitars, to percussion and white noise, plus five drum pads to tap on. Eight-voice polyphony allows novice players and purists alike to produce satisfyingly rich sounds by playing up to eight notes at a time. It’s chintzy, but in a way that will likely sound appealing to parents who grew up with indie music. Demo songs will drives you crazy, but if your kids are like mine, they’ll love them too.

Age range: 2+
Energy source: 6x AA battery, mains adapter
The audio: Integrated speakers, headphone output
MIDDAY : No

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The Otamatone is a popular Japanese musical toy that resembles an elongated eighth note (also a tadpole and a ladle – both of which turn out to be called “otamajakushi (お た ま じ ゃ く し) ”in Japanese). A ribbon controller runs the entire length of the thing: tap to play single notes, drag to connect two notes with a plunging portamento effect. Squeeze the mouth at the base to create a “wah” effect, or shake the instrument to create vibrato. Parents may find this a little scary; kids will probably think it’s adorable. I haven’t tried one; this classically trained cellist says they’re actually surprisingly difficult to play. But hey, $ 35 and a little practice just might turn your kid into the next TikTok star.

Age range: 6 months +
Energy source: 3 AAA batteries
The audio: Built-in speaker
MIDDAY : no


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