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More Than Just A Game

  02/12/11 23:24, by , Categories: Guitar, BFMN Exclusive, Laura Williams, One Thin Paradigm , Tags: guitar hero, laura williams, liberal arts, one thin paradigm, rock-star

One Thin Paradigm by Laura Williams

It happened slowly, so slowly that most children born after the 70s and 80s can’t remember ever having music taught to them in public schools. No one in state government seemed to think that extracurricular subjects like art and music were that important. They were cut like so much fat from an already ailing educational system. I’m not of the opinion that this action helped in the long run, and shamefully it’s now common to find liberal arts completely missing in action in the lower grade levels. Something had to come along to help inspire and motivate kids into learning music…did you really think it would be that video game though? You know the one I mean…and can we really afford, at this point, to be so snobbish about what inspires children to take interest and learn?

I remember mentioning to a friend that I like playing that guitar game, and the reaction I got kind of shocked me. I don’t remember the exact words, but I believe she said something like, “I don’t need to play that, I know how to play real guitar.” I changed the subject with an offhand remark about how not everyone is a natural-born musician, and it seemed to change her view slightly. That’s good enough for me. I’ve played guitar for over 35 years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the potential and the actual effects of this very unique gaming experience. I’ve witnessed it firsthand, with my son and also with other friends. They don’t seem to know it while it’s happening, but when they’re pushing those odd-colored buttons in those rapid-fire patterns, they’re mimicking the genuine motions of playing notes on a fretboard.

Here’s the odd thing: when these talented gamers pick up a real instrument, they have difficulty connecting the game with the reality. It’s not that they can’t duplicate what they do on their awesome plastic guitar controllers, it’s just that they don’t believe in their fingers when they touch steel or nylon strings. I can tell you from personal observation though, the effects of their constant quest for virtual musical perfection. Two individuals I know, who enjoy videogame rock-star status, have shown interest now in taking lessons. They toy around with their guitars and think they aren’t accomplishing anything, but I recently listened to my friend play a few songs he’d learned from an online tablature lesson. I was impressed. Comprehension of tablature has always escaped me. It’s like musical algebra that just doesn’t compute in my mind. That’s quite an impressive leap from videogame rock hero to music student, and like it or not, I have to give at least partial credit to those silly video games.

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