If you haven’t heard, Rock Band is releasing a new game that introduces a groundbreaking feature—a real guitar, with 6 strings & pickups! This guitar can be used in Rock Band 3 as the game controller OR it can be plugged into an amp. This guitar changes everything… in gaming AND for music lessons!
If you are a guitar teacher you might be thinking, “do I have any job security”? (If you teach a different instrument, expect that this day is rapidly approaching for you too.)
I think a better question to ask is, “am I remarkable teacher”? (see my blog “You’re Thinking With your Lizard Brain”). IF you are a remarkable teacher AND you can embrace new technology, then I think you’ll be fine! Here’s why:
1. Serious musicians will still need to learn notation and theory. Rock Band 3 offers an introduction to guitar—some riffs, some rhythmic patterns— but a thorough understanding of music requires math, scales, style, technique… not every kid wants to be the next Katy Perry or Lady Gaga! Some of them actually develop rich musical tastes and would rather be the next Muse or MuteMath.
2. There are thousands of video/computer games for math, science and reading but we haven’t fired all of our schoolteachers.
3. Some students thrive off of competition. I teach 2 brothers guitar lessons. Their lessons are at separate times but out of the same book. One is always asking “how’s Tommy* doing?” “Where is he in the book?” Now, I’m not out to create animosity between brothers, but a little competition can be good, especially for boys (just read a developmental psychology book or two, you’ll see I’m right). Rock Band 3 is healthy competition.
4. RockBand 3 can be an effective tool for reinforcing your music lessons. Do you have a hell-of-a-time getting your students to practice? I guarantee you’ll see a huge spike in practice time if they get this game. Why? They’ll be inspired! Classic rock sales soared on iTunes after Guitar Hero was released. This seemingly dead music (some of which I wish would have stayed dead ;)), is being downloaded by 12 year olds. Who’d of thunk! They actually like it!?!
If they’re listening to it, if they’re playing the songs in a game—they’ll want to play for real… and they’ll want to be the best at it. In the end, a kid who can play guitar for real has more admiration from his peers than a kid with the top score in Rock Band (very few high school girls haven’t had a crush on the local lead guitarist or drummer).
5. There’s nothing better than a great mentor. I wouldn’t be a great musician or teacher without my mentors. No program or game or book could ever replace David Pedde, “Dr. J” Herbert L. Johnson or Diana Grasselli. They’ve helped to shape my musical skills and who I am. Some kids have very few adults invested in their life. You don’t have to go to your student’s football games, but you can encourage them when they are down, spur them on to greatness or correct bad habits. A video game can’t do that.
What do you think?
*Name changed for privacy