With the explosive growth and popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, parents and players are concerned that the time spent mastering the games can be put to better use, like learning a real instrument.

With the explosive growth and popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, parents and players are concerned that the time spent mastering the games can be put to better use, like learning a real instrument. According to a major study in England, gamers are starting to graduate into the realm of active music-making as technology closes the gap between entertainment and education.

Youth Music, one of England's largest music charities, concluded that 2.5 million young people under the age of 16 were so inspired by playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band that they bought real instruments.

What is the best way to take a gamer from the virtual world of Guitar Hero to learning how to play a guitar in the real world? We have an animated, "real world" music expert who can discuss what to look for when choosing a first guitar or other instrument. We can also educate you on the latest software that helps children to play their first instrument. SmartMusic accompaniment software , you play along with professional ensembles so they can experience the music's drama and hear how you sound.

Suggested tips:

Acoustic guitar:
Look for a solid top (better sounding) Have the child play or simulate playing guitar paying special attention to the feel of the neck; if it feels wrong, find another one Buy a guitar with on-board amplification (when it's time to play the coffeehouse, there's no need to buy another guitar) You can save money by avoiding cosmetic adornments like body or fret board binding, which don't affect the sound
Electronic drum kit An electronic kit can be adjusted for children and has many different sounds in its module Buy as much as you can afford; some inexpensive kits often cannot stand up to heavy use If you buy an acoustic set, get a quality junior kit that can be scaled up as the child grows
Keyboards
Feel the keys and determine whether you like "weighted" (heavy, piano-like) action or lighter, "organ-style" keys Get a keyboard with lots of different sounds; many come with 400 instruments and sound effects already built in Buy a keyboard that offers downloadable lessons, sheet music and sounds; they are available for under $200