Who remembers going to traditional piano lessons? Sitting up straight on the hard piano bench where the lovely Mrs Smith would give you a gentle tap on the back of the hand with a ruler if you didn’t curl your fingers properly!
Well thankfully times have changed, and (we hope) that piano teachers no longer plan to teach with a ruler as their main means of correcting students!
However, a new type of Music Lessons have evolved over the last few years: These things that are part educational, and very much sold to the entertainment market – they are educational music computer games.
We are talking about games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and there is definitely some educational value in playing them. When you are playing through the songs it can really feel like you are playing the instrument.
The great thing about these games is that it is giving people the chance who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to pick up an instrument and know what it feels like to be on stage with a guitar, or play a tune on a piano.
Of course if you are serious about playing an instrument then these games are not and should never be your main source of tuition.
However together with lessons from a teacher these games can provide invaluable assistance. They certainly shouldn’t be written off as having no educational value.
For example if learning guitar you can learn the form and structure of a song through playing the game, then go and learn the correct chords and riffs from a teacher.
The drum beats which are in the Rock Band game are fairly close to real drum patterns, however the layout of the drum kit isn’t quite the same as a real one.
Learning piano with one of the Piano learning tools such as Piano Wizard can also be helpful. In this game you can play the notes on the screen in real time on a proper electric piano which is hooked up to the computer via MIDI.
Some things to help you choose a music game:
It is best if you can use a Real Instrument as the controller for the game. With piano this is easy, as you can simply use a MIDI hooked up keyboard, however its much more difficult (and expensive!) with guitar and drum based games.
Look for games where the song structure, chords and keys are as close as possible to the original songs as possible. You may need to ask a teacher or other music professional to check your game songs and see if they are completely correct before using them
As we are at the forefront of this technology it won’t be long before there are games which have a lot of educational worth and value, with real instruments being used as the game controllers.