Companies is a monthly feature where we recount the odd beginnings,
interesting permutations, or otherwise unique and noteworthy circumstances
of a toy or hobby manufacturer. If you think you know of a Cool
Company that youd like to see featured here, please contact
Worlds Collide: Neurosmith Tunes into Learning
By Kevin Skaggs
April 1, 2003
1997, as a team of educational software developers were plugging
away at computer programs for children, the scientific world was
coming to new conclusions about the ways in which young children
learn and experience the world around them. Neurosmith
was born when the team of software developers took this cognitive
data and applied it to the development of interactive toys.
research revealed that toddlers learn best by touching, tasting,
moving, and exploring the world around them, the founders of Neurosmith
sought to combine the technology that powers a computer with the
proper interface for toddlers," said Neurosmith’s Millie
toys are based on research citing music's beneficial effects on
children during the early years of development. Interacting with
music exercises the areas of the brain that perform spatial-temporal
tasks and prepares children for such later-life challenges as geometry
and physics. "Exposure to music affects the way children's
brains are organized and helps them learn non-musical tasks such
as solving mathematical equations and complex puzzles," said
Cecelia Riddell, an early childhood music specialist.
award-winning Musini comes alive with a touch or
the tap of a toe and responds with music. For kids ages 3 years
and up, Musini allows them to select the musical style the toy plays
back by using the "Style Dial," a knob that chooses musical
genres ranging from classical to jazz. "Musini encourages personal
expression and creativity and allows children to explore various
musical styles, instruments, tempos and structures," said Wang.
"It cultivates a deeper understanding and appreciation for
music, and best of all, helps children exercise when they don't
even realize it."
premiered with the release of the award-winning Music Blocks.
"Since music making helps develop language and math skills,
Neurosmith introduced Music Blocks--a toy that allows children to
mix and match blocks to create unique musical compositions,"
said Wang. "It's a great spin on a classic that continues to
be the best seller for the company." Designed for kids ages
2 and up, Music Blocks enables children to make music by combining
a set of 5 blocks. Using musical cartridges to select a composer
and by mixing and matching the blocks, children can create an assortment
of classical music compositions - more than three million unique
compositions are available.
Blocks has sold well at Ambassador Toys in San
Francisco, with many parents visiting the store to request it. "The
parents who have come in and purchased the Music Blocks have wanted
their children to be brought up with classical music rather than
just “Ring Around the Rosy” and other nursery rhymes,"
said Justin Coote, an employee at Ambassador. "The Parents
thought it would be educational to have their younger children listen
to Mozart and Bach."
has won recognition from the toy industry, both for their innovation
and their educational value. Parents Magazine awarded Neurosmith’s
Music Blocks a place on the “Best Toys of the Year”
list while Babyzone tapped Musini for an “Amazing
Toy” award. Information on Neurosmith and their toys can be
found at http://www.neurosmith.com. On their site, be sure to take
some virtual product demos.
Bio: Kevin Skaggs is a San Francisco-based writer whose
work has appeared in Wired and Harvard Review.