Learning guitar is hard work. That’s no secret.
It takes a special kind of dedication to sit down on your own once your guitar teacher leaves, thunking and clunking your way through a piece you could’ve sworn sounded way better when your instructor was around to help you.
So it begs the question: how do these new fangled Xbox instructors like “Rocksmith 2014” compare to taking traditional guitar lessons? Does having a virtual instructor at your fingertips really replace someone coming in, sitting down, and walking you through a piece?
Rocksmith claims to monitor how you are progressing as a student, and dynamically changes its methods as you improve. It’s literally Guitar Hero for the real thing. You plug in, follow the tabs, and boom: you’re playing guitar. Guitar lessons were never so accessible.
It’s undoubtedly fast. And if you’re trying to impress your lady friend with your beautiful rendition of “Blitzkreig Bop” by next Wednesday, Rocksmith just might be the way to do it.
But hold on. Tabs, or tablatures, which basically tell you what fret to hold on what string, might be easy, but there’s a whole lot more to guitar than just what fret to put your finger on. Things like the pace of the piece all the way down to the subtle nuances of notes aren’t covered with tabs. You’re basically given an outline of a song, with the caveat that you’ll figure the rest out on your own.
Learning actual sheet music is an invaluable skill. It’ll help you transfer over much more easily, should you want to pick up another instrument. Learning an instrument is no different than learning math. You need the basic building blocks to get started.
Rocksmith can take you through the motions until you’ve got a song down by muscle memory, but having an instructor makes sure you understand what you are playing.
It’s like memorizing your flashcards versus actually understanding the material. You might pass the test, but you’ll have trouble applying the knowledge later on down the road if you never learned it to begin with.
It’s the longer, more difficult path to success. But trust us, your friends will be more impressed with your ability to sit down with any acoustic guitar and sight-read sheet music than if you plugged into Rocksmith and followed along to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”