Genre Guides: Music Games

Music GamesGenre: Music

Recommended LWK Games: Rock Band, Guitar HeroTap Tap Revenge Tour, Groove CoasterRhythm Heaven Fever

Popular M-Rated Titles: N/A

Common Thinking Skills Used: Focus, Self-Control



Genre Description

While music games have been around for quite a while, they only achieved widespread success in the past few years with the release of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, which allow players to use instrument-styled controllers to follow along with their favorite rock songs.These games place the player in the role of the musician, and challenge him to stay focused and on-rhythm while colorful graphics race across the screen, showing the player what notes to play at what times. When the player is successful, these games reward the player with a fully realized song that truly allows him to feel like a rock star.

Other popular music game types include dancing games such as Dance Dance Revolution, singing games like SingStar and Sing It, and console rhythm games like Rhythm Heaven and Beaterator.

Music Games are Good for Kids Who Need Help With:


Getting started and then maintaining attention and effort to tasks.

the-beatles-rock-band-6_00362801Music games by definition require players to follow along closely over a set duration of time, contiinually keeping track of notes and staying with the beat and tempo of the music. Timing also plays an important role, requiring players to concentrate on rhythm and attend to the pace of their actions. Whether players are tapping out a rhythm on a game controller, dancing on a floor-pad, or singing into a microphone, they must constantly pay close attention to the song to avoid falling behind and losing the beat.


Managing feeling, actions and behaviors.

Music games are particularly good for kids who have trouble managing their feelings and behaviors. In most music games, the player must be able to control their feelings and not get frustrated as each level may take many tries to complete. To be successful in these games, the player must control his emotions so as to stay relaxed enough to continually hit the right notes at the right times.

Our Make it Work activities are designed to transform your child’s gameplay to real-world improvements in thinking and academic skills. If you’re just getting started with LearningWorks for Kids, we suggest you try them all to find which are the best for you and your child.

Introduce the Thinking Skills

Read over the pages for Focus and Self-Control. Then take some time to introduce these thinking skills to your child.

Explain that:

  • Focus is the thinking skill that helps us maintain our attention and effort, start tasks and keep working on something without getting distracted.
  • Self-Control is the thinking skill that helps us manage our feeling and behaviors, control our emotions and stop ourselves before we make a mistake.

Focus Activity

mf_harmonix_350Let the games begin! Card games such as Simon Says and Memory challenge children to observe, remember, and either repeat or use what they have seen. If your child wins, ask him to tell you about strategies that helped him to be successful. Reinforcing his efforts in learning and playing the games can be a very helpful and fun way to practice sustained attention.

Self-Control Activity

Delay impulsive behaviors. You can provide some easily learned strategies that will train your child to practice self-restraint. The following examples might apply or inspire you to think of others: put your hands in front of your mouth to prevent interrupting; sit on your hands when it is not time to get up and move around yet; keep your hands in your pockets while in line to prevent pushing or shoving others. Help your child to identify situations that require self-control and encourage him to think of actions that will make it easier to remember and to practice.

Music games are a great opportunity to connect with your kids. Whether you are introducing your child to some of your favorite songs from childhood, or they are teaching you about the current scene, you have a chance to share in the love of music whenever you play music games with your family.

Music games combine art and play. There is simply no question that enhancing a child’s interest in music is good for their cognitive development, creativity, and appreciation of life. For parents who have their concerns about video games, music games can be introduced to the children without ambivalence. Making music a more regular part of your family can help in reducing stress and tension at home might be useful for your child when they are studying, and could even reduce the amount of time spent with other technologies such as the computer, television, and video games.

For many kids, music games have spurred an interest in learning to play an instrument. While some of these games are simply focused on rhythm and the use of a game controller, there are a number of newer games that actually help develop musical skills and may even be good practice for playing an actual instrument.

There are also reasons to believe that playing music games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero may improve cognitive processing speed. In these games, one is required to visually focus on a faster and ever-changing screen and then motorically respond. Our research team at LearningWorks for Kids has been studying the impact of regularly playing these games on processing speed skills in areas such as reading and writing speed. While our data is limited, there are a number of studies indicating that action-based video games can in fact improve processing speed.

Because music games often include both contemporary and classic tracks, you might even find that you and your children will have a newly shared interest in similar types of music.  You may use your shared interest in music to explore other musicians. Go your local library and borrow some CDs, or go online and download some new artists that you might enjoy along with your child. Explore some other ways that music might be helpful in your home. I have found that many children with mild learning and attention difficulties study more efficiently with soft background music and tend to sustain their effort when involved in tedious tasks such as cleaning their room or washing the dishes when they have their favorite music playing loudly.

If you are new to playing video games with your kids, we would strongly suggest that music games are a great place to start. If you can find some games that play your songs, you’ll have a blast and your kids are likely to be thrilled that you’re playing the game with them.

Related Games

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