Pete's Blog

Guitar Hero

A year or two ago one of my students showed me his skills at a new video game called Guitar Hero. While music played he held a vaguely guitar-shaped controller pushing buttons when prompted to by a series of colored lines on the screen, cued somewhat to the music being played. It was the proudest and most animated I'd ever seen this kid, as if he was saying, "Look! I'm playing music." Well, as a private music teacher I'm not in the business of telling my students they're full of shit. I acted as cheery as I could, tried the thing myself, and went home and thought about it from then until now. Here's what I think. Playing Guitar Hero may be a good test of your reflexes but it's not music. In fact, it's the opposite of music. At best, it's following along while someone else plays music. But nothing gets created, no musical notes are brought into being that didn't already exist. The mental revolution of figuring out how to bring an intangible to life is nowhere in that box, controller, or screen. Get out of my face. Go play in traffic. In fact, that kid stopped taking lessons a few months later the better to concentrate on skateboarding.

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