• How Guitar Hero can make you a better musician

    in Musician Fun

    Guitar Hero III for WII

    Ok, I know some of you are like “what the heck” but it’s true… joining your kids in playing Guitar Hero can really help your piano skills. :)

    For my folks who’ve never played or heard of it, there are these little icons moving toward you in different columns and you have to hit the correct note on this little plastic guitar that comes with the game.

    One note might be red, another blue… another yellow or green. They all own their own column and as their notes move forward, you have to hit them correctly AND at the right time. Sometimes more than one at a time… sometimes very fast and in complex rhythms. I haven’t gotten to the super duper advanced lessons but from watching online videos at youtube, they seem to get pretty difficult.

    guitar hero screenshot

    From a musician’s perspective, I think the game can actually help with your coordination and independence (cause’ it takes a lot to advance to the more difficult parts of the game). I think there’s even something to be said about melodies and ear-training (at least anticipating upper and lower neighboring tones in a melody… more on this later).

    Case in point:

    When my friend invited me to play the game for the first time, he was telling me of how hard it was. But the thing is, he’s not a musician so for him, he had to build his coordination and independence from SCRATCH whereas I already had some on the piano, but not the guitar.

    So as soon as he turned on the first level and I got a few wrong (because I was getting used to it), but then blazed through the rest, he was like “mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, you’re a natural.” Then he quickly remembered… “but you’re a musician, see! Always gotta show off!” LOL.

    So it’s true, if you play at a reasonable speed on the piano and have some good right-hand/left-hand coordination, you’ll like this game and you’ll probably do good up until a certain point without much prior experience.

    Another thing I noticed about it was that the notes were designed on the screen so that if the melody went up, you played higher notes on your plastic guitar… if the melody went down, you went the opposite way so it actually felt natural (of course these aren’t real notes… you only have 5 on your guitar controller but when the melody went up, you played the notes toward the body of the guitar and when the melody went down, you played the notes toward the neck of the guitar).

    So was I always relying solely on the colors that appeared on the screen? NOPE! I was actually relying on my ear and how I knew the song went. That allowed me to almost anticipate and have an extra second to prepare to go up “3” notes, for example, and then back down “3” notes while someone with no musical experience may eventually figure this out intuitively but ultimately relies on the colors on the screen until that concept clicks for them.

    But then the game gets super fast and if you’re not a guitarist or used to moving your fingers that fast, you’ll hit a brick wall.

    This is where you’ll really benefit because it’s not the stuff you practice and that you ALREADY KNOW… it’s the stuff that you can’t seem to figure out so easily and comes with a lot of reiteration and practice that makes you grow!

    Now I don’t want you guys to think… “Ok, Jermaine’s just excited about this game… he’ll never mention it again.” Maybe that’s true.

    But actually, I’ve known about this game for years and first got introduced in 2007. It got dusty on my shelf for several months until I pulled it out this morning and started playing it again. Then I decided to blog about it.

    Has anyone played Guitar Hero? Do you agree with what I’m saying?

    Do you think it’s just a game or can it help some part of your playing? So are you going to let you kids play more of it? :)

    See ya next time!

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    { 15 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Tracey

    Rock Band is good to, and you have to play drums as well…although if they added a Gospel Music genre to pick from, I would buy it for my kids!


    2 Dre

    I believe that guitar hero actually inspired me a lot to learn how to play real guitar. But most guitarists already believe that people play guitar hero because they are too lazy to learn how to play real guitar.


    3 Jermaine

    hehe, I hear ya Dre. I believe it can inspire one who is not a musician to become one.

    More importantly, I think it can really develop those coordination, speed, and accuracy skills to. It showed by me being able to play it within 10 minutes (because I already had some of those skills from playing piano that automatically helped me.)

    And heck, it’s just fun too. Whether it helps speed or not, it’s a cool family game. For a gospel person, some of the characters and settings are different but if you can get used to that, it’s real fun. My wife and I played it for hours.



    4 Lila

    Omg i ttly agree! im pretty good at Guitar Hero. Ive only had it for like two days and im already on Medium. Before getting it for xmas i had just playeed it like at walmart on those demos they hav. but like i play piano and im learning the violin so maybe thats y. my sis is the one whos supposed to play video games but she doesnt rlly play any instruments and shes on easy


    5 j

    I agree. Guitar hero can make you a better musician. When your brain feels numb after playing the game for a half an hour, there must be something going on.

    Associating the notes that fall between the beat lines coming toward you on the screen are analogous to dotted/syncopated rhythms you might be reading off of sheet music. Also, playing a song you have not listened to for years over and over lets you hear the various elements that you didn’t focus on so closely in the past (like differing rhythms in the bass and guitar parts).

    You have to really commend the musicians who play extra flourishes like the Mick Taylor lead guitar or the Cheap Trick song. On a cheap t.v., a lot of the singers sound like the real guy–more or less.


    6 Matthew

    I’ve played keyboards and guitars for many years, but I played guitar hero, and I started playing both instruments better. It improved my guitar skills more than it did to my keyboard skills. It became easier to move around on the guitar neck, and allowed me to play with more speed on the keyboard. I have had tendonitis for several years in my right hand, and guitar hero does make it flare up sometimes, but I found that playing on the Les Paul Controller doesn’t cause it to flare up as much. If you can play the GH drums, you should be able to play drums easier and its a good exercise program.


    7 pina



    8 sunday

    Very intresting site i wish to know how to play piano very well and i wish to inform people about this site


    9 sunday

    i will like to attend your class and to be good player


    10 Julia

    I totally agree. One of my friends showed it to me (she was playing on the highest level) and she dared me to try because I played piano. At first I couldn’t figure it out, but after about an hour I was only one level behind her. She instantly told me to teach her how to play piano.


    11 Dreamcube017

    While I’m not a huge fan of Guitar Hero itself, I have played a number of similar rhythm games that use the same concept. (Amplitude, EZ2On, DJ Max, beatmania, even StepMania for PC even though that’s a dance game)

    I was shocked to see that most people just watch the colors and match them. I’ve even seen some people play with the volume down (umwhat?) Because it’s a music game though, I rarely keep my eyes on the individual notes as they come down the track, but glance at them then align (or try ) the rhythm in my head and most times it works. When it really doesn’t work is either when the notes weren’t placed correctly (on user created charts) and when the video and audio is out of sync. SuperDance Online had this problem and for some reason I was the only one who noticed it.

    But anyhow if you all like Guitar Hero, you should really check out Amplitude (PS2) or DJ Max (PSP)
    Konami (creators of Dance Dance Revolution) even made a game called KeyboardMania inwhich you have an actual music keyboard and you watch as the notes come down and play them. It was only released in Japan though… and while I do have the game, I was unable to get the keyboard that’s used with it. (A standard USB MIDI controller won’t work.) But I think the latest Rock Band has something like that.

    …yeah I’m really big into rhythm games…


    12 Print Derry

    hi I thought you may enjoy my blog


    13 Mason

    I agree 100%. Back in the day, I used to play GH3 all the time, and I was in the process of learning piano still yet. It DRASTICALLY improved my hand/eye coordination and timing skills after a few months of playing. I found myself actually being able to carry on different melodies with each hand, when before I couldn’t even BEGIN to do that! =) lol


    14 Tomas Crowe

    Guitar hero 3 made me become a musician, before I’d never heard most of the songs and had never touched an instrument. Now I’m a full time musician, playing in bands and studying music.


    15 Nicolas

    Totally agree. Coordination is a huge part of dominating an instrument. I think Guitar Hero replaces these “Spider” exercises that one does at a guitar when beginning, in order to loosen up and, most importantly, coordinate the right-hand plucking with the left-hand digitation. I also discovered a site that can let you play songs in a Guitar Hero fashion, but with a real guitar, while following tabs or sheet music. It’s called Jellynote.com. You should check it out!


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