November 28, 2007 4:00 AM PST
Is tomorrow's Clapton playing 'Guitar Hero'?
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There are those, of course, who believe Guitar Hero signals a death knell for real guitars.
"It's going to kill music," said San Diego bass instructor David Hilton. "It seems to me that as long as (Guitar Hero fans) can get really, really good playing this console, (and) it's not really easy to play (a real) instrument," that the guitar is dead.
But Hilton's fears may well be in the minority, and the enthusiasm of teachers like Emery and Skyler indicate that there's a real chance the ultimate result of millions of people getting hooked on games like Guitar Hero and now Rock Band will be a new love of rock 'n' roll.
Part of the equation, Skyler said, is that Guitar Hero teaches rhythm.
"In the game, you have four buttons," he said. "You have to get them in time, in sequence. So in a sense, even though (you're) not learning the specific strings, you are building rhythm in a musical context, which is valuable."
Not only that, but the wide variety of songs included in the various editions of Guitar Hero may be opening up kids' ears to music they haven't previously been familiar with.
"It's also interesting kids in great bands of the past that they might not have been exposed to," Skyler said. "So I think we'll see a resurgence of rock. Rock 'n' roll is about fantasy. If you can go and you're having a good time (and saying), 'Hey, I'm jamming with Slash,' that's great."
Even more important, suggested Emery, is that the guitar is a unique instrument when it comes to the way people connect with it.
"The thing that drives guitar playing is not the same thing that drives violin playing (or) piano playing," Emery said. "It is the desire to connect with the spirit of rock 'n' roll, and anything that builds the spirit of rock 'n' roll is going to build the spirit of guitar."
And that, of course, is good for those in the business of teaching the instrument.
"When a kid gets filled with the fire of rock 'n' roll, they're going to practice four hours a day," Emery said. "Desire drives the guitar business. So I view (Guitar Hero) as a totally good thing."
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