Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Music and rhythm games: A classically-trained Pianist's perspective

3:10 PM on 11.15.2008 // SWE3tMadness

[Editor's note: SWE3tMadness adds to the music and rhythm game debate with this piece on how the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games have improved her skills on a real instrument. -- CTZ]

This was originally supposed to be a simple comment left in response to naia-the-gamer’s article on Wii Music and how well it functions as a tool for music education. However, after typing a few paragraphs, I figured this would be better suited as a whole blog article, not just to address Wii Music, but music/rhythm games in general.

My experience with music has been largely ordinary. When I was about six or seven, my parents enrolled me in piano lessons because I really wanted to be a famous rock star (what kid doesn’t?) and they figured that’d be the best place to start. After a few weeks, I realized that it was a lot more work than what I thought and especially hated music theory. So my lessons mostly consisted of practicing a few songs over and over again until I could play them reasonably well. Simple enough, and other than learning key signatures and musical notation, that’s what I went through for about eleven years.

More after the jump.

Now I can sightread pretty much anything you put in front of me, but I can’t play by ear or improvise worth anything. Seeing other people who taught themselves how to play an instrument shows the exact opposite result -- they can improvise and play by ear, but can’t read sheet music at all. This has led me to the conclusion that a good musical education has to involve three things: learning musical notation, musical theory, and genuine interest in the material from the student.

I very much agree with Naia on that while Wii Music can serve to generate interest in music for younger kids, it can’t supplant the experience of actually playing music.

But when reading the comments after the article, I was struck by how many people immediately took the faults with Wii Music and immediately jumped over to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, saying, “Oh, this is why these games suck too!”

No, they don't, actually.

The major difference between GH/RB and Wii Music is that the former two never claimed to be anything other than a game. Naia’s article merely meant to point out the problems with Wii Music as an educational tool, not with all music and rhythm games in general. Look at that picture above: does that look like a group of people actively engaged in learning the intricacies of music performance? No, they're just messing around and having fun. While I’m an avid musician, I recognize that GH and RB will not automatically make me a better musician, just like playing Resident Evil won’t actually teach me how to properly handle a firearm.

"Don't try this at home, kids. I'm a professional."

However, just like Naia pointed out a few possible uses for Wii Music as an education tool despite its flaws (recognizing pitch and tempo), GH/RB have unintentionally shown a couple benefits to me as a pianist. After playing Expert guitar for about a year now, I have much greater hand and finger strength, especially for my left hand, which was my weakest one before. It’s also helped me with hand independence and reading sheet music faster. If GH does help you play an instrument, I think its benefits are more suited to piano/keyboard, not guitar, ironically. Drums are the same way, and since the peripherals are closer analogues to actual drum kits, the skills transfer easier (learning how to follow colored spots on screen won’t teach you how to improvise your own beats, though).

This is true for pretty much all music games, and even videogames themselves in general. Remember the Resident Evil metaphor I used up above? While it is no replacement for real-life experience, I’ve noticed that playing games has really helped my vision recognition and hand-eye coordination.

So while music and rhythm games on their own can’t teach you how to play an instrument or give you any musical talent that isn’t there in the first place, they can certainly help generate interest in the next generation of kids, and maybe even help them practice certain drills and more physical aspects of playing music. Those games have their place, but with the technology used right now, my baby grand piano isn’t going anywhere.

Unless, you know, I can play it while it's on fire. Because that would be pretty fucking awesome.

 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

SirDavies avatarSirDavies
Well, ugh, this is awkward. A year ago I wrote a cblog about cool indie games coming in 2015, and not a single one of them has been released :/
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I was happy to have never spoiled myself the final boss of Splatoon's campaign. That was one of the best boss fights ever and I absolutely love the credits track. So relaxing. [youtube][/youtube]
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Today's kids will never know the struggle of putting an encyclopedia on top of an NES Max to auto-buy 99 potions before heading into Terra Cavern
CblogRecaps avatarCblogRecaps
Sometimes, on more dreary days, I make a smiley face with sliced-pickle eyes and bacon grin in my lunch-burger. It fills me up all the same, but I feel a warm sense of accomplishment, achievement and satisfaction on top of it.
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube][/youtube] Isn't this the greatest thing ever?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Well, my Bloggers Wanted post is up, but it timetraveled back to Sunday behind Zetta's blog or will only post two days from now otherwise. Mrgrgr.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Yeah I still can't take the new Batman and Superman seriously, Batman just looks so stupid with his cowl lol.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
This near final build of Nuclear Throne is going to bring back my eye twitch.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
When I was a lad, I loved this game something fierce. [img][/img] Anyone else ever play the tie in Small Soldiers games? Maybe it's nostalgia, but I remember them being not too bad.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Finally got my surface pro 3. Holy shit I love this little guy. And Windows 10 is better than I thought.
Putting more effort into iOS game review than African American history book report. This is not what Dr. King died for. Or maybe he did, I wouldn't know because I'm not doing the book report. Wha-hey!!
Lawman avatarLawman
More info and footage on that cancelled first-person THQ Avengers game is shown. The heartache's still real.
Archelon avatarArchelon
DailyFloze avatarDailyFloze
So just dropping in, just finished my first hands on with the new Bloodborne DLC..... in one word...Potatoes!!? #theoldhunters #dropitlikeitsyarnham #aintnothinglikeafromsoftwarething
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Indivisible's campaign just made it to $1.300.000! if you can back it please consider doing it.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Slow day at work. [IMG][/IMG]
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
22/31 missions completed on Prototype, fun game with a ton of destruction but crashes on my desktop PC and barely runs on my dad's laptop. And it's distracting me from playing more Fallout 4. But hey, I can slice+disguise as tank commanders and that's fun
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Virtua Fighter month begins tomorrow! First blog will be coming sometime this week (mostly Wednesday).
voex avatarvoex
*Sigh* time to figure out how much a Fallout 4 capable PC upgrade is gonna cost me...
ooktar avatarooktar
Ordered this on Thanksgiving and surprisingly got here today. The case is amazing and Now I got all the Persona Cards. [img][/img] [img][/
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -