Why I Feel That Music Video Games Are A Great Way To Learn the Fundamentals of Playing Music

By Tyler Christensen

August 23, 2010

As my author bio at the top of the page lists, I mentioned that not only am I a gamer, but I’m also a musician as well. I’m a vocalist by nature, but I also dabble in other instruments, such as the piano, guitar and bass guitar. But, in no way, shape or form do I consider myself great, hence the wording “dabble.”

Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero allow players to take part in a performance of popular songs by playing controllers that are modeled after musical instruments. Over the years, players were really just able to shred out with their plastic guitar’s out, but now we are able to play lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and sing.

I honestly feel that these games teach you the fundamentals of playing music when playing on expert. Of course, if you are not there now, you will get there soon, and I’ll include some tips for you to be able to achieve that goal by the end of this editorial.

I’m sure that some of you are probably thinking, “well, why don’t you just pick up a real guitar?” Good question, and by all means, please do. I’m sure that you don’t want to be playing a plastic guitar and pressing down plastic buttons forever. But, for those of you poor people, like myself, who can’t afford real instruments, this game is a good start. Whether you want to sing, play the drums, shred on the git-fiddle or if you feel like slappin’  da bass, each of these components will allow you to get a good grasp on different styles of music genres and help you progress towards picking up a real instrument.

Tempo and rhythm are key elements in playing music. Without them, everything will fall apart. Playing on expert difficulty is going to give you a more realistic feel at the actual instrument without having to really pick one up. I personally feel that the drums for these games, when playing on a higher difficulty such as expert, are literally teaching you how to play the drums. I believe this because 9 months ago, I had never played the drums on a video game like this before. I have tried to play on a real drum kit in the past but… epic fail. Now, after several months of going through the drum training and learning the beats, I’m sure that I would have no problem sitting behind a real pair of drums and keeping a steady beat and tempo. Tips: practice in the drum trainer. That’s really all that I can say. It will teach you a bunch of beats and fills and you are able to change tempo (speed) to being soft jazzy type beats to blast beats where you would be sounding like you are in a death metal band.

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Singers, you have it pretty easy in these types of games, no matter which difficulty you are on. You don’t even need to sing the correct words. All you need to do is hit the right octave. Heck, some songs even give you 100% just for making incoherent noise. I’ve been able to sing songs on these games  like a chipmunk to even sounding like Barry White while pelting out Paramore and was still able to complete the song. As a vocalist myself, I hate to say it but I have no tips for this category except for just focus on hitting the right octave.

As for the guitars, these games teach us finger motions and patterns, as well as wrist motions. Yeah, I get it, plastic buttons are not real strings. For those of you who are thinking this, hear me out. Pressing these buttons down while playing on expert can get rather difficult, but it strengthens your fingers and your wrist to be able to tackle the real deal. Some tips would include up and down strumming. This will save you! I promise. Once you nail this technique, you will be shredding to some Iron Maiden or Yngwie Malmsteen in no time.

By now, I’m sure that you all have heard about Harmonix’s upcoming Rock Band 3, which will include a 25-key MIDI-compatible keyboard, and a real guitar is also being made by Fender that will feature six strings instead of fret buttons . All I have to say is finally! That guitar is really going to change this genre up a bit and make this game a little more realistic. I have a feeling that you will be able to feel like a real [email protected]$$, instead of a plastic one. I honestly cannot wait! These new instruments are truly going to be a break-through in how a music video game is played. It literally will teach you the guitar, as well as the piano. Purely amazing! It will also feature a “Pro” mode, which will teach you to accurately mimic playing a real instrument using specific fingering patterns. The upcoming Rock Band 3 is headed to retailers in North America on October 29th, 2010.

Just remember, people, have fun, listen to the music, find the  rhythm, hear the beats and rock out. Practice makes perfect. And don’t try to strain yourself too badly when trying to play on expert. Some people look at you funny when you tell them that you hurt your fingers shredding out on Rock Band or Guitar Hero, I know from experience. 😛

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Tyler Christensen

Marked until death with the words "Gamer" across my back (literally) with Duck Hunt pistols across my shoulder blades. Tyler enjoys good beer, open-world games and is also a singer/songwriter.

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