I often mention Guitar Hero in my blog posts. Not because I am fascinated with the game so much as I am fascinated with the hold that it has on my band students. Students that I can't get to practice for ten minutes on their clarinet will instead play for hours at a time on Guitar Hero Garage Band. Many times I have lamented that if only Activision would do something to incorporate REAL instruments into the franchise that music educators would stand up and beat a path to their door. Well, it may be time to start lining up!
In a very brief comment to Conde Nast Portfolio an Activision spokesman has said that the next generation of Guitar Hero will include some degree of new isntruments and vocals along with the traditional guitar. This is big news if it is true, but one has to wonder what the "instruments" will be. Will they be cartoonized versions of legitimate instruments (such as the highly inaccurate guitar currently used with the game) or will they be MIDI capable and realistic versions of mainstream instruments?
I am not getting my hopes up at this point, but I would love to see the finished product once they roll it out. I honestly believe that the interactivity of the Guitar Hero and Garage Band games is something that music educators need to seize on and utilize down the road. SmartMusic is great and all, but even the most die hard student would still practice more with a video game style practice system than with what is available now. One thing is for certain, technology has already changed the way we teach almost every other subject. PE classes in my district are already using Dance Dance Revolution in class as a way to get kids to be more active. It is only a matter of time until it changes music education as well. Until then, we will have to be satisfied with the wonderful Cello Hero* game from the Berlin Philharmonic or the new Conductor Hero* from Immersion Music.
*not their actual titles