Will the real Guitar Hero please stand up?

This house on Main Street usually had a sign advertising guitar and music lessons. While running by the store a few days ago, I saw that the sign had been altered to read - "Guitar Hero and Rock Band lessons also offered".

Guitar Hero and Rock Band are video games that have become hugely popular. When I first saw the 'guitar', I was shocked at how toy-like it was. Of course, the Guitar Hero guitar IS a toy and not really a guitar. It's nothing but a glorified joystick that is shaped like a guitar. One of my other labmates who does play a real guitar was humbled at his attempts to display his axe-skills on Guitar hero. Guitar skills don't translate to the video game.

Perhaps, no one cares about real instruments anymore, and music teachers would rather teach anybody anything than go hungry. Learning an instrument is hard. Even to play decently it takes a few years. My own struggles with it have only reinforced the view that it requires a lot of patience, determination and discipline. Of course, once you are past the first stage, the fact that you can play can itself be a motivating thing.

While the initial motivation to learn an instrument may be to get the chicks, impress your buddies, or some TV-fueled teenage fantasy, which all seems rather silly in retrospect. The initial impetus is always public adoration, but eventually playing an instrument is mostly a solitary pleasure where you are your own audience. This solitary audience is an aspect that makes making music so liberating and relaxing. An escape into the abstract.

It seems a shame that few want to take the pains to learn how to play a real instrument. Instead of picking up a real instrument, people seem to want to pick up the guitar hero box. I hoped that perhaps this would encourage people to try the real thing. I know a guy in my lab who spent 2-3 hours in the summer getting better at guitar hero. If he had spent that time learning a real instrument, it would have paid much richer dividends.

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