Remember when Guitar Hero came out? I do. My first thought was "Wow! What a great idea! Use a video game to help teach kids how to play guitar!"
Unfortunately, playing Guitar Hero was more like playing Simon (remember Simon?) than playing a guitar. Nevertheless, my son loved playing Guitar Hero when we went to the arcade.
Then one of his friends started learning electric guitar. Let's hear it for peer pressure. My son saved up his money and a little over two years ago, he bought himself an electric guitar.
The plan was that he would look for sites online and DVDs to begin learning, and then once he showed a real interest (and we had the money) we would find an instructor. The first month, he tried. He looked at YouTube videos and I brought home DVDs from the library. He worked on the fingering. He even managed to play Happy Birthday on my birthday. But it was slow progress. Unfortunately, guitar is one of those things you really need to stick with, and if you don't really know how to tune your guitar, can't keep the chords straight in your head and you put off practicing because you hate how it hurts to press those strings, you practice less.
Until your guitar sits on its stand in the corner of your room and mom has to remind you to dust it off or put it in its case.
Last November, I lamented about how little his guitar was used over the past year and wished again that Guitar Hero actually taught guitar. That was when my son told me there was a game that taught electric guitar. It's called Rocksmith.
Rocksmith comes with a special USB cable (only they sell it) that hooks your guitar up to your computer. We bought it for him for Christmas. The premise is similar to Guitar Hero in that you play notes as they shoot toward you. The difference is that you are actually playing notes. To set up, you let it know what you want to play--lead, rhythm, or bass--and whether you are right or left handed. It gauges how well you play and slows down or adds notes based on your skill level. Best of all, you play using actual songs instead of simply practicing chords. It teaches the notes as you go so that you work on a few notes at a time until your accuracy improves. Other features include interactive lessons on the chords and different ways to play them; an arcade with fun mini-games where you do things like shoot zombies with the correct notes and chords; and it helps you tune your guitar.
The guitar now sits at the ready by his computer. We no longer need to dust it. That makes me happy.
"I got my first real six string
Bought it at the five and dime
Played it till my fingers bled..."
~Bryan Adams, Summer of '69