Parents and teachers are constantly thinking about this: When does a computer game become education, and when 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. There are a few that are far more advanced, and are almost close to playing a real instrument.
Where do we draw the line? Music teachers are definitely split 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 does this game show or teach me (or my students or children) that I previously did not know?”
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 you are simply playing one level of one game over and over again nothing will happen except that you’ll be good at that one thing. You’ll really know that one thing, but nothing else.
If however when playing a music game you are constantly introducing new songs, and you use the music game as a vehicle to move forward with skills, then you’ll find this to be a well worthwhile educational experience.
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.
So always ask that question – What is this activity teaching me that I didn’t know before? Then you’ll find that time spent on games will always help… besides being great fun!
The Fun Music company is currently developing educational music games for school students at the Fun Music Company.