Why we should use video games to get students to play in more accurate rhythm.
Any music educator will tell you that getting kids to practice with a metronome is a never ending battle. There are always exceptions, but most kids (and adults too) that I have taught lessons to claim that they have more accurate rhythm when they’re not using a metronome. Us educators know better. But it’s hard to explain the importance of something when the student doesn’t understand it. Particularly something that is as frustrating to learn how to do as playing in accurate rhythm.
I don’t like telling my students to do something they hate. There’s a great book called The Element by Ken Robinson that has convinced me of the importance of education being engaging. None of this “sit in this chair and bang on this drum to this monotonous click until you get it right.” There needs to be enough instant gratification to keep the student interested. Not because we’re entertainers (we’re not). Rather we need to make sure the student is receptive to teaching when being taught something new. Simply forcing a student into the discipline of metronome use is ineffective and as soon as your back is turned they will stop.
Why not a game? Everyone loves games. But it has to be a game that interacts with the person. It also has to be a game that is able to create the accurate rhythm required to build the skill. Our recent release, Upbeat Bird, is just that. It’s an iPhone game designed to build the skill of accurate rhythm. At the same time, the user also learns about upbeats and how to play them accurately. They will not understand the importance of a metronome until they are skilled at using one. They will not become skilled at using a metronome or at accurate rhythm until they use the device. A vicious cycle that must be broken.
Check out Upbeat Bird, and urge your students to play it too. It will make for more accurate rhythm no matter the skill level, and it will be fun for them and less frustrating for you.