The country is not only facing a financial crisis, but also a crisis in our schools. Low test scores, increasing competition from other countries, and decreasing budgets are just the tip of the iceberg. For many years school systems have been finding ways in be in alignment with budgets without forsaking a quality education for our youth. Aside from underperforming athletic programs and unneeded extracurricular activities, music education has always been a hot button for removal from schools.
Proponents of music education voice their concerns due to the value music education can have on the development of a child. Opponents look at the monetary constraints their school systems give them and look at the cost effectiveness of removing music programs. Anyone who has ever viewed “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, a movie about musical passion versus educational budgeting, would agree music transcends all genres as well as cultures to assist in providing more than just scales and arpeggios to students. Music is the lifeblood of education.
A simple solution in our technologically advanced society is not to cut music education, but make it relevant to today’s youth. If you ask a child from Generation Y to name you five pieces of music from the Classical period, chances are there will be a limited response. Now ask the same child, who has played Rock Band, to name five songs they have played on Rock Band? I forsee a 100% score. The point is Rock Band is relevant in today’s scope of music. Educators need a cost effective and fun way to teach music without breaking a school’s budget.
Case in point is Rock Band 3. From the beginning of Rock Band franchise history, gamers have been “taught” how to “play” guitar, drums, bass, and sing. Not bad for a small price tag, but where does it go from there? With Rock Band 3, there is still basic game play with the addition of Pro mode. Pro Mode is a teaching tool, which should spark interest in terms of a cost effective means of teaching music without a huge budget. A six string guitar and a mini keyboard are components gameplay will “teach”.
The game doesn’t just give you tutorials on the five colored game controller as in previous versions. Pro mode will teach you how to actually play instruments. So the question arises, “How can this be used to bridge a learning gap?” Simple, music is relevant to what children are listening to outside of school. No all of the songs are not current, but the introduction of pioneering tracks from Joan Jett or guitar heavy songs from Queen will entertain as well as educate.
My music days were filled with history, theory, and practicing. I have to admit I loved all of the training I received from my teachers, but was it relevant to me? I can connect the dots from Bach to Beethoven to Bohemian Rhapsody. I was blessed to not be in a school system which had budget constraints. If school systems want music programs to be current, cost effect, and fun – make Rock Band 3 a requirement.