Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wii Can't Bridge the Gap

I had read a few weeks ago about the much ballyhooed launch of Wii Music software and have even mentioned Guitar Hero and Rock Band in several posts over the past few months. I thought that each of these items might actually have their rightful place in current music education 'circles'. Perhaps at the very least they might create interest enough for some people to get out and attempt the real thing - that is, actually access a real instrument, and a real music educator and actually LEARN MUSIC!

I felt the same way years ago when then Governor Bill Clinton played saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show (I know, I am showing my age). Even though my personal philosophies may differ from Bill's, I nonetheless thought his saxophone playing appearences might start an uptick in music education or saxophone sales, and indeed it may have. (By the way, the tenor sax used by the Governor on that show was later auctioned off and proceeds went to the Music Rising fund). In fact, I was teaching at The Hartt School Community Division at that time and was interviewed by a nationally syndicated columnist about this possible 'Clinton Effect'.

When I first learned about Napster I wasn't at all worried about artists losing money, instead I thought it might spark more interest in various musical styles, which might then boost sales and even foster interest in music education. Ditto the I-Pod, Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Wii Music. I guess I am just wired this way - it's a curse!

After reading the following post by Derrick Sanskirt titled 'Wii Are Not Amused', I realize I may have been thinking backwards all along. It doesn't take any special gizmo, advance in technology or celebrity to spark interest in actual music education. It takes just two things; 1. willing, well informed, patient learners and 2. quality, passionate, skilled, educators.

Derrick is a self-professed 'geek' in a variety of fields including technology and music. In other words, he is a typical 20 something and his entire post is eye opening. Simply remove the word 'Wii' from this story and some sentences will sound all too familiar to music teachers. Take the following lines for example:

'Watching people attempt to play Wii Music was like watching a cat attempt to catch mice inside a wall with no entry or exit holes: steadily pawing at the air in front of them with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, staring confused at the screen, and eventually finding the whole thing futile and giving up.'

Or this:

'Maybe I just need more time with it to find where all of that fun is hiding, but a lot more time is not something I'm willing to give Wii Music right now.'

So I found his post to be very enlightening for me in many ways. Bridging the gap between business and music education can be a maddening and often futile endeavor. Hardly have there been two worlds more unlikely to collide. Yet it seems there has never been a more opportune time for both worlds to come together, especially with today's tech heavy atmosphere.... and so we carry on!

Read the entire article HERE.


Don Berg said...

While Wii has a certain market share that makes it particularly "sexy" I suggest you take a look at Piano Wizard as a music learning tool that takes advantage of video games to develop true musical learning. It uses a real keyboard and enables small pre-literate children (and even a 40 year old guy like me) to succeed quickly and eventually learn to read music.

I haven't tried their new guitar wizard, but I expect it is equally impressive.


Don Berg


Blog: said...

Will do - some of my colleagues are already familiar with this product but I would love to try the guitar wizard too!

Chris Waldron said...

I agree that there has always been an interest and since much of the music educators don't have the business strength to push that interest it has not occurred to the degree it could. We get 1000 teachers applying every month. Few of them have the attitude it takes to be a great teacher. But once you have a great teacher and an interested student, its magic. And exciting to be a part of.

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