The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

May 8, 2009

Video games leading kids to, not away from, real instruments

In June, Bo Moore will hold a recital for his music students. And as many as 80 percent of them will be performing on guitars.

Thanks to video games such as “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band,” Moore says, guitars are the hot thing right now.

Contrary to the notion that kids playing video games would mean they aren’t playing instruments, Moore says he’s never been busier. The private music teacher says he’s seen a jump of perhaps 35 percent in the number of young people coming to him for lessons in the past two years. And most of them dream of becoming the next Eric Clapton or Carlos Santana.

“A lot of kids have been getting into it because of games, especially ‘Guitar Hero,’ ” said Moore, who owns Bo Moore’s Downtown Music in a second-floor shop on Main Street in Johnstown. “Kids who might never have become interested in learning to play the guitar are now coming to us.”

Moore recently closed an instrument sales shop at street level and is focusing on giving lessons. He said he has more than 100 students.

“We’re so busy right now, and I think these games have been a big factor behind it,” he said. “We especially see a big boom right after Christmastime. We’re always swamped, with a long waiting list.”

The first “Guitar Hero” game was released in November 2005 and became an instant sensation – allowing gamers to “play” the licks and leads of classic rock and heavy-metal tunes.

By the time “Guitar Hero III” hit stores two years later, well-known guitarists were endorsing the game and making guest appearances – at least in animated form.

Now you can buy “Guitar Hero” games built entirely around the songs of Aerosmith and Metallica. Or you can play as your favorite guitar legends – Jimi Hendrix, Ted Nugent and others.

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