Using Computer Games in Music Education

Remember old fashioned piano lessons? Where you had to go to Mrs Jones’s house and sit up straight on the stool, and play the right notes or you’d get a swift ruler tap on the back of the knuckles?

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!

Still, in the last ten years a new breed of Music Education has popped up: These things that are part educational, and very much sold to the entertainment market – they are 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.

Perhaps the best thing about games like this is that they give an opportunity to play instruments to people who otherwise wouldn’t. Thousands of people have had the chance to feel what its like to play guitar with a band, even if its just in their own lounge room.

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.

It can also be helpful for piano students to use a computer game such as Piano Wizard. 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. This should be easy for the piano programs like piano wizard, however the technology isn’t quite there for guitar yet to play the game with a real instrument.

The Author, Kevin Tuck is a person who is passionate about two things: Teaching music, and making music fun for his students. Kevin is also an editor for the Fun Music Company, who create music theory worksheets and educational music games for music lessons.

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