What is Rocksmith?
If you aren’t familiar with it, Rocksmith 2014 is a video game that lets players use a real guitar to learn how to play. Players plug their guitar into their PC or console using a USB cable to connect to the output jack on the instrument. Players of all different skill levels can use the game because it adapts to the way that you play. You also get feedback on how you are doing, and you can hear yourself playing, so you can get a feel for how much you are learning.
Is Rocksmith a good way to teach kids to play the guitar?
I think the only way to answer this is that it depends on the child. In my opinion, it is best to have someone sit and teach a child one on one, but if for whatever reason that isn’t happening, then Rocksmith something worth looking into as a learning tool.
As with most self-directed learning, your kids will need the right amount of disciple and patience to stick with it, especially if it is the only learning tool that they are using. Since a large part of the software is designed in a type of rewards based learning game, kids do tend to find this way of learning fun and can progress.
What is a good age to start kids on Rocksmith?
Some people have kids playing this software as young as 8. This age seems a bit young to me, although I think you have to look at the child and the guitar that you have to be able to determine whether it is a good learning tool to use. Most kids aren’t able to hold and play a full-sized guitar until they are around 11 or 12 years old. There are short-scale instruments like the Squier Mini Strat or the Ibanez Mikro that younger children can play and hold comfortably, but then there is a question as to whether they will work properly on Rocksmith because you have to be very careful about tuning when you play, or it doesn’t work correctly. Short-scale guitars are kind of notoriously hard to keep in tune.
Most regular full sized electrics work on this software; you need to make sure you have a standard 1/4″ output jack. If you already own a guitar or are looking for something to buy to play Rocksmith, there are lots of websites around that have info on what models work/don’t work and recommended what to get. I wouldn’t start a child on Rocksmith until they can hold a full-sized model, so you aren’t running into tuning problems with a short scale instrument.
Rocksmith has more than 80 interactive step-by-step lessons that include all of the basics like how to hold a pick, learning chords, and as well as advanced techniques. There are 55 songs that you can play along to as colored notes move across the screen, you follow along with your strings and hit the notes or chords that appear. This section and the Guitarcase section use a lot of aspects of gamification that make learning fun. In the games, you are practicing what you have learned in the lessons, but you are getting points that will help motivate children to get to the next level of achievement. Having kids want to practice a musical instrument is half the battle, so when kids are getting constantly rewarded as they do with the points system, it adds a lot of fun to the learning process
Some of the songs have suggestive lyrics about drugs and sex, so you should be aware of that if you are thinking of getting this for a younger child, but there are also lots of songs that are fine for kids. Check out the song list here.
If you can get the right size guitar for your child’s age and size that will work well on the game, then this is a learning tool worth checking out. It costs a fraction of the cost of lessons and you have it available whenever you need it, so the convenience and value of it alone make it a significant investment. Within the software, there is a good variety of sessions, lessons, videos, and mini-games that along with a bit of perseverance and practice, will get your kids learning and keep them interested for a long time.
Xbox ONE, Xbox 360, PlayStation®4 system, PlayStation®3 system, PC/Mac
Rocksmith Real Tone Cable
Guitar with a standard 1/4″ output
Available from Amazon