ThinkFun Compose Yourself Review
My family recently had the opportunity to check out ThinkFun‘s new product, Compose Yourself. My children adore music and Leo has been taking piano lessons since September. When I learned that ThinkFun was coming out with a product that encourages children to compose their own music, I was so excited to try it out.
The story behind Compose Yourself
Compose Yourself was created by Philip Sheppard, a renowned composer, producer, and cellist who has composed music for over thirty movie soundtracks. He’s also been a music producer and director for some big-name live events, including the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 Tour de France. Are you impressed, folks? I sure was!
Sheppard created Compose Yourself as a means to overcome the musical version of writer’s block. One day, when trying to create a piece and feeling stuck, Sheppard created a stack of transparent cards, each with a few musical notes on them. By using transparent cards, Sheppard was able to flip and rotate the cards and combine them to create musical compositions in minutes. He was able to write three pieces that evening and went on to create Compose Yourself so that everyone can have the same musical experience!
What is Compose Yourself?
Folks, I’m honestly not sure what to call Compose Yourself. Is it a game? Is it a homeschool tool? Is it a computer program? Is it a toy? All of the above? Whatever you want to call it, Compose Yourself is oodles of fun. So much fun that your children won’t realize they are learning! In a nutshell, Compose Yourself is a deck of cards that allows you to create a unique musical composition in minutes!
How does Compose Yourself Work?
Compose Yourself includes a deck of 60 heavy-duty, transparent music cards. There are 30 different cards (2 of each card are included so that you can repeat melodies). Because each card is transparent, you can flip and rotate each card to create four different musical variations.
You don’t need any musical experience in order to use Compose Yourself. The only instrument I’ve ever played was the recorder back in fourth grade, and I had an absolute blast using Compose Yourself with my kids.
In order to make a musical composition, all you need to do is to arrange the transparent cards in rows, in multiples of four. So, you can create a melody that includes four, eight, twelve, or sixteen cards.
Compose Yourself includes tips from the Maestro, Philip Sheppard, that can assist you with thinking about and creating your composition. The tips encourage the composer to think about the shape of their composition, the way the melody changes when cards are switched or flipped, and how the use of repetition can change the composition.
Once you are satisfied with the arrangement of your cards, you log onto ThinkFun’s Compose Yourself page and enter the unique code that is located in the top left corner of each card.
Then, you have the choice of listening to your music played three ways:
- Marimba along with the orchestra
You are able to tweak your composition at this point, if you’d like to make changes. Keep flipping and rotating those cards until it is music to your ears. At that point, you can do the following:
- Print the sheet music for your melody (along with creating your own title and adding your name)
- Create an MP3
- Share online via social media
And… voila! You’re officially a composer!
Benefits of Compose Yourself
There are so many benefits, folks. Here are just a few:
- Compose Yourself encourages creativity and imagination.
- It’s a great way to foster an early love of and appreciation for music.
- Compose Yourself is great for all ages. My 3-year-old had just as much fun with it as Schizz and I did!
- Compose Yourself is a wonderful listening activity.
- Compose Yourself is educational. The tips from the Maestro are wonderful!
- Compose Yourself offers the ability to see patterns in music, to realize how small changes can make a huge difference in melodies.
- Compose Yourself retails for approximately $15, so it is extremely affordable. It would make a wonderful addition to any game closet, homeschool, or a fantastic and creative birthday gift.
- Compose Yourself is an amazing addition to music lessons, and also a great way to introduce children to music before starting lessons.
- Compose Yourself is fun!
Compose Yourself = 10 Thumbs Up
We’ve all tried Compose Yourself and everyone loves it. The kids have had tons of fun creating their own compositions, complete with goofy titles and lyrics. They’ve created musical composition for Schizz for Father’s Day, their grandfathers for Father’s Day, and their beloved piano teacher. Compose Yourself has been a wonderful addition to our family’s game closet, even though I think it is so much more than a game.
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
Can’t get enough ThinkFun? Here are our family’s favorites:
This is a challenging one-player logic game that incorporates a marble run. The player must construct a marble run that meets the criteria on each challenge card. Challenge cards increase in complexity, providing endless fun. We have gushed about this game before both here and here.
In this one-player game, players must use logic and planning abilities, in combination with lights and mirrors, to get the laser from point A to point B, according to each challenge card. Like Gravity Maze, cards increase in difficulty so your family won’t outgrow this game any time soon! We’ve gushed about it here and here.
In this one-player logic game, the player must free his car from gridlock traffic. The challenges include four levels of play, from easy to expert. Extension packs are available for the Rush Hour obsessed (like us), and a junior version for your littlest gamers. We have gushed about Rush Hour here, here,here, and here. It’s one of our most favorite games!
Just when you thought Rush Hour couldn’t get any better, it did. Rush Hour Shift is the two player version of Rush Hour, with playing cards added for luck and a shifting grid to provide additional challenge. I’m sure it will become an instant classic in your home, as it did in ours. We’ve gushed about it here and here.
This is a brightly colored and super fun transparent card game that requires you to think fast and use spatial reasoning. These cards are super-durable and travel well. We’ve gushed about it here. I often say I wish this game had been around back in my swim team days. It would have been perfect for those long meets, wet hands, and wet surfaces!
PathWords is so addicting! It is like a word search with a puzzle element. Using increasingly difficult challenge cards, you must use the colored geometric pieces to highlight words so that, in the end, you solve the puzzle with no pieces remaining. We gushed about it here.
Zingo! is a fun twist on traditional Bingo for your little gamers. Players must be the first to get three in a row (or, if you’re in our family- fill your card!) so that they can shout, “Zingo!” and win the game. The game involves matching tiles to the words, numbers, or pictures on your card. Several variations of Zingo are available, including a Sight Word Zingo that our family loves and a numeric version. We’ve gushed about it here.
Word A Round
Word A Round is a fast and fun word searching game that can be played a couple different ways. The goal is to find a hidden word on each card. There are three rings per card and there is a hidden word in each ring. We will often play this game as a one–player game, too. 2 or more players, recommended for ages 10 and up.
Need more fun games and activities in your life? Check out these related posts:
What is your favorite ThinkFun product? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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