Parents and teachers are constantly thinking about this: At what point is a computer game educational, and at what point is it just entertainment?
Are those games really worth spending our hard earned money, time and energy on?
In Music there are all kinds of games: Some of the music games which are available today are nothing more than an evolution of the toy guitar that you’d give a toddler to play with. Some are almost like playing a real instrument, with real instrument sizes and materials used.
So what is educational when it comes to games? Most music teachers have a differing opinion on this issue. Most I know still teach the same way they always have, and probably won’t be spending money on too many games. However there is real educational value in some aspects of the game.
This is the question we need to ask before engaging in any game activity: “What is this teaching me (or them, if thinking about your children or your students) that I didn’t know before?”
When you learn something you take something which you didn’t know before and make it known. That’s as simple as it is. Are you making anything known that wasn’t already when you are playing that computer game? If all you are doing is playing one game over and over again you won’t achieve anything but being good at that level.
Educational music games can be a great experience if you constantly introduce new songs and use the game as a vehicle to move forward with your skills.
When developing these music games it is my hope that the developers consult instrument specialists so that learning to play the game does not affect the students technique when learning the real instrument. I believe that most of the game companies do that research, however there is always cheaper versions who cut out the features and cut down on the educational value.
If you always ask this question: What is this game teaching me that I previously didn’t know? Then you’ll find that besides being very enjoyable that time spent on music games will actually build musical skills.