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!
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 computer games.
Certainly there is some worth in games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band 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 “fur elise” on the piano, 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.
If you are learning to play the guitar the game can be used to help you learn the structure and form of the songs, and then you can take it to your teacher and learn the correct riffs and chords.
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. With this software you can attach a real electric piano to the computer via MIDI and play the notes on the screen in real time.
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 music game songs and see if they are completely correct before using them
It is exciting to be at this stage of this technology, because in a few years there will be lots more games that use real instruments as their controllers. Then there will be a lot more educational value in them.