Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rock Band And Learning Real Guitar

I've really been enjoying Rock Band 2, and I've been playing quite a bit of a guitar career (still cautious with my forearms, so I'm not playing the drums nearly as much as I want), but it's not as satisfying, because I know I'm really not learning anything that translates into playing a real guitar.

I didn't care about that, before the drum controller came out. Now, though, after seeing how using the drum trainer in RB2 actually does translate pretty well into my drum lessons, I started thinking about how the Rock Band series could provide some of the transitional instruction into playing a real guitar.

To me, it seems like the guitar is broken down into activities by hand. One hand manages finger placement, while the other strums. So if you wanted to make learning how to play a real guitar less intimidating, what would a "learning guitar" look like compared to the current Rock Band/Guitar Hero controller?

Well, I think there are some common elements--lots of them, actually. I think a novice guitar player could learn quite a bit from a guitar controller that required accurage finger positions for chords, but without strings. Instead of just having one row of buttons, there would be multiple rows to allow for proper finger placement to create real chords.

To create the note once your fingers were in position, you'd just use the strum bar. Yes, that's not realistic, but it would allow you to focus on hand placement and learning chords, which seems like it would be more difficult than learning how to strum.

What about the note chart? Well, make the notes fatter, and put a number in the middle of them. So in the middle of a red note, you might see "3." That would represent the third red button in the red row.

Maybe you couldn't do every chord this way, but I think you could make a good start. And while it would be quite an adjustment to think that a "red note" could have more than one position, Rock Band is pretty masterful at ramping up difficulty. For example, easy difficulty could just use two colors, so that you could get used to moving your hand up and down the neck.

By the time you reached expert difficulty, you'd be using all six rows (six-string guitar), and since the chords would be "accurate" in terms of hand position, it seems like it would be much easier to then pick up a real guitar and be able to play chords right away. Then you could focus on learning the nuances of strumming.

I think there are a lot of us who would be highly motivated to play a real guitar if the learning process could be more "game-like."

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