Naxos MusicBox | Reference Database Review

Global entity Naxos Music Group, with its extensive repertoire of highly respected adult music offerings, jumps into the children’s educational world with ­MusicBox, which incorporates hours of the rich Naxos music library, ­accompanied by educator-created content.


Grade Level PreS-Gr 8

Cost For information on pricing and to set up a free trial for multiple access,​ please contact Nick Floyd at​.

Overview Global entity Naxos Music Group, with its extensive repertoire of highly respected adult music offerings, jumps into the children’s educational world with ­MusicBox, which incorporates hours of the rich Naxos music library, ­accompanied by educator-created content. The sound quality and music ­selections will inspire listeners to develop or hone an appreciation for classical music. The site meets accessibility standards and displays well on laptops and tablets.

Content The database contains more than 4,000 audio tracks, ranging from under a minute to playlists that run more than an hour. Musical instruments are covered ­individually and in great detail. Playlists (themes include animals, my first ballet, and my first Mozart) offer high-quality recordings of key compositions. Users will find simple biographies of well-known, mostly male and European composers (two women, Clara Schumann and Hildegard of Bingen, are included), along with music excerpts.

Representation of music within the database is wider and more varied, and a “music around the world” module is coming soon. Three audiobooks (The Story of ­Classical Music, Famous Composers, and More Famous Composers, all by Darren Henley) contain composer biographies, with examples of their music.

A simple time line is divided into five parts: early music, Baroque, the Classical period, the Romantic era, and 20th century and beyond. Under “stage and screen,” users can learn about famous music pieces from film and TV, ballet, opera, and musicals.

Opera also features prominently in the “voices” section, with pages devoted to soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and choirs. A dictionary, found in the dropdown menu, will be helpful.

Teacher and student accounts include access to the online activities (drag and drops to label violin parts, multiple choice questions) and printouts (composers word search). Educator accounts have access to additional classroom activities, which might include playing music samples and asking students to decide whether the composer is portraying a hero or a villain and how the music conveyed those qualities.

Ease of Use/Visual Appeal Students access the database from with a shared classroom login. The ability to embed static URLs is a feature in development and would simplify access to targeted content for young users.

The interface is friendly and bright, with a background of musical notes and ­symbols, a smiling key pointing the way, and bright icons for eight topic areas. Middle school ­users may find the design slightly juvenile, but the content is on target for these older users.

The search box requires exact spelling, but users will likely rely on the icons to find information. Color, layout, and breadcrumb trails effectively aid in navigation. Emerging readers may choose to skip most of the text in favor of the easy-to-spot play buttons. Plus and minus sign icons show or hide information on selections, leading to a cleaner look when less information is desired. Older users and those with a keen interest in music can spend engrossing hours reading and listening.

Text ranges from simple to sophisticated, particularly in some notes accompanying opera excerpts. Adults will appreciate the short but thorough notes that give detail on each musical selection and draw the ear to important points.

While all activities are gathered ­under one icon, they also show up on their ­related pages, via a side tab. The basic search and advanced search (under ­advanced, users can search by section, such as composers or instruments) are adequate, although it would be more helpful if Naxos ­highlighted the ­precise location of a search term in the results.

Educator Resources The step-by-step ­educator activities can be read aloud and include music links to click at the appropriate times. Instructors will find information such as supplies needed, musical aspects covered, and learning outcomes, along with a detailed breakdown of what the class is listening for, suggested discussion points, and a glossary. Supplies are generally simple (scissors), ­although adequate speakers are always needed to ensure sound quality.

Verdict With targeted resources for music teachers or arts classes, and hours of ­classical music recordings, the depth and quality of the classical tracks, combined with text accessible to elementary and middle grades, make MusicBox a source of both serious educational content and listening ­pleasure. Schools seeking cost-effective ideas to ­include or enhance classical music ­instruction will find it of particular value.

Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX

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