Do video games positively effect musical development?

February 22, 2016
Rock band musical development rock band video

By Matt Maher, Music Instructor

musical-development-rock-band-video-game-st-louisI have learned from several of my students that they spend about two hours playing video games almost every day. This is quite a decent chunk of time in someone’s day to spend on leisurely activities. Therefore, we have to assess what the value of playing a music video game has in a child’s musical development. There are several pros and cons of music video games.

Pros of video games for musical development

Video games and rhythmic ability:

Music video games such as Rock Band or Guitar Hero require you to push buttons in a rhythmic manner. This helps develop one’s understanding of rhythm and concepts of time, which are important for mastery of any musical instrument. An added bonus: this also helps develop hand eye coordination.

Ideally inspires some to play a real instrument:

One can only hope the creators of Guitar Hero and Rock Band invented these fun, and highly addictive game with the intention that to inspire gamers after a while to put down the controller and pick up an instrument and go get music lessons.

Exposure to new music/new bands:

The first relationship to Guitar Hero I noticed about students of mine is they would recognize a song and say “I’ve heard this before it’s in Guitar Hero”. Ideally some of these songs excited gamers to listen to more of what these bands have to offer. The affinity our students develop toward the bands and songs featured in these games provide us with a bridge to connect them from video games to live music practice.

Cons of video games for musical development

Kids think it’s easy to play a real musical instrument:

Put simply, musical instruments are not as easy to yield as a video game controller. I have had several friends who were gamers that wanted to pick up a guitar but when they found out the difficulty in comparison to their video game they were immediately turned off.

You are not learning a language you are learning “colored buttons” :

This is a big con. Music is a language with chords, scales and rhythms. Colored buttons are simply colored buttons. You are not talking with your friends through your instruments the way real music is played you’re just playing a video game together. There is also not a physical real relationship between the Guitar Hero guitar and a real guitar. Strings and buttons do not feel like the same thing.

No technique:

One of the things beginner students find out that can be frustrating at first is that instruments require physical technique. This is one of the biggest challenges to overcome as a player. You not only want to play all the right notes but you probably want them to sound good too!


If you have a kid who’s a big fan of Rock Band or Guitar Hero, let them try out our private or group music lessons, rock band program or summer camp to get a taste of the real music lesson experience. Click here to contact us to learn more about our drum lessons, guitar lessons, piano lessons, rock band and vocal lessons at our St. Louis location.


This blog was written by Rock School instructor Matt Maher.

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