Ever since the Kadan on 30th Street in University Heights started hosting Guitar Hero competitions in January 2007, the video game has been bringing out inner rockers in clubs and music shops all around town. But are gamers increasing demand for music lessons on real instruments?
“I’ve seen those little plastic guitars in about three out of every four homes I go to that also have real guitars,” says Kevin Paluzzi, of Paluzzi Guitar Instruction. “I would say that over 80 percent of all my new students under the age of 21 have played Guitar Hero before playing a real guitar.”
Not that video games provide much preparatory training, he says. “Guitar Hero does not require you to hold a proper chord shape or play a scale like the real guitar players have to, so, in my opinion, there goes about 95 percent of what it takes to play a real guitar. I do notice the game requires the player to at least hit the buttons in time to match the tempo of the song, so you can develop a sense of timing. The game also requires the left fretting hand to press or tap down on the buttons, so perhaps some finger strength can be gained.”
Tiffany Moon of the Academy of Music, Institute of Arts and Letters, says, “I have noticed the Guitar Hero and Rock Band trend, of course, but I’ve seen minimal evidence that this has increased legitimate interest in private lessons. While most students mention the games and their familiarity with them, I’ve seen few students drawn to begin music and instrument study because of them.
“This could be a mark of the economy on the socioeconomic class drawn to the games.”
Also, consider that Rock Band and Guitar Hero max out at around a hundred hours of programming — no matter how many pricey extras you pick up and how much time you spend slamming those little plastic buttons.
Or, as instructor Moon sums up, “Why play Guitar Hero, when you could BE one?”