I have learned from several of my students that they spend about two hours playing video games almost every day. This is quite a decent chunk of time in someone’s day to spend on leisurely activities. Therefore, we have to assess the value of playing a music video game in a child’s musical development. There are several pros and cons of music video games.
Do video games positively affect musical development?
Video games and rhythmic ability:
Music video games such as Rock Band or Guitar Hero require you to push buttons rhythmically. This helps develop one’s understanding of rhythm and concepts of time, which are essential for mastery of any musical instrument. A bonus: this also helps develop hand-eye coordination.
Ideally inspires some take music lessons on a real instrument:
One can only hope the creators of Guitar Hero and Rock Band invented these fun and highly addictive game to inspire gamers after a while to put down the controller and pick up an instrument and get music lessons. If you are looking to buy your first guitar, don’t forget to check out our post on “Buying Your First Guitar.”
Exposure to new music/new bands:
The first relationship to Guitar Hero I noticed about students of mine is they would recognize a song and say, “I’ve heard this before. It’s in Guitar Hero.” Ideally, some of these songs excited gamers to listen to more of what these bands offer. The affinity our students develop toward the bands and songs featured in these games provide us with a bridge to connect them from video games to live music practice.
Cons of video games as music lessons
Kids think it’s easy to play a real musical instrument:
Musical instruments are not as easy to yield as a video game controller. I have had several friends who were gamers that wanted to pick up a guitar, but when they found out the difficulty in comparison to their video game, they were immediately turned off.
You are not learning a language. You are learning “colored buttons” :
This is a big con. Music is a language with chords, scales, and rhythms. Colored buttons are colored buttons. You are not talking with your friends through your instruments about how real music is played. You’re just playing a video game together. There is also no physical relationship between the Guitar Hero guitar and a real guitar. Strings and buttons do not feel like the same thing.
One of the things beginner students find out that can be frustrating at first is that instruments require physical technique. This is one of the biggest challenges to overcome as a player. You not only want to play all the right notes, but you probably want them to sound good too!
If you have a kid who’s a big fan of Rock Band or Guitar Hero, let them try out our private or group music lessons, rock band program, or summer camp to taste the real music lesson experience. Click here to contact us to learn more about our music lessons, guitar lessons, piano lessons, rock band classes, and vocal lessons at our St. Louis location.