I’ve wanted to write this article almost as long as I’ve wanted to improve my guitar playing skills using the app this article is about. Sadly, I don’t muck around when I procrastinate because I normally get straight into that! Not today though. Today I am writing about the awesome Rock Prodigy app collection—I want to say franchise, but I won’t (other than when I just did).
I first discovered the Rock Prodigy app well over a year ago and fell in love with the concept and the interface. This app combined the fun elements of something like Guitar Hero with an educational tool that allowed the learning and the game play to occur using a real guitar—plugged into your iOS device or not. Since first discovering Rock Prodigy I’ve also discovered (and bought) the The Offspring: Rock Prodigy app and the Dave Mustaine: Rock Prodigy app. It’s the latter I’ll focus on today. I’ll do so because it’s all about the metal. \m/
The Rock Prodigy apps work in a simple yet effective way. From the main screen (see the first picture below for the Dave Mustaine: Rock Prodigy home screen) you access your guitar tuner, songs/lessons, store and app settings. I’ve provided some of my beautiful greyscale screenshots below so you can see these sections. The tuning component is fairly straght-forward and easy to use (which is ideal). I’ll point out now that from most sections you get back to the main or previous screen using the back-arrow button that looks strangely like a guitar plectrum to me. Coincidence? I think not.
The songs/lessons in the app can be categorised by complexity. Clicking the Complexity button displays the songs/lessons into the Basic, Beginner, Medium, Advanced, Prodigy or All categories. Once you’ve played a song, the app gives you a score to let you know how well you performed. This is of course a handy way of tracking your progress as you learn and develop into a better guitar player. A fun aspect of this app is the iOS Game Center connectivity. You can compete on the Game Center leaderboards if you’re so inclined. You access this section from the Social section of the app (where you can also connect to the Rock Prodigy Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels).
You have no idea how difficult it is for an Australian to type Center by the way.
Before I cover how the lessons themselves work, I’ll quickly cover the Store and Settings sections of the app. The Store displays all of the songs/lessons that are available in the app. You can search for specific songs/lessons or you can scroll through the listing in the Store screen. It’s also on this screen that you can select to view the songs or their lessons. In the Dave Mustaine: Rock Prodigy and The Offspring: Rock Prodigy apps, all songs are either On Device if you’ve previously downloaded them, Purchased if you are yet to download them after you purchased them or their price appears next to them if you are yet to buy them. The main Rock Prodigy app has a huge amount of free lessons and songs by the way. A huge amount.
The Settings section of the app lets you adjust the line-in volume as well as the levels for the backing track and the guitar. One very cool feature (especially if you’re in the Dave Mustaine: Rock Prodigy or The Offspring: Rock Prodigy apps) is the effects you apply to your guitar in-app. You can apply Reverb, Distortion, Echo and Flange. If you’re going to be learning Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls, you don’t want to sound like you’re on a flamenco guitar.
Back to the lessons themselves. When you click your lesson or song of choice, you are taken to that song/lesson’s details page where you can view the lesson name, tuning details, lesson length and statistics in regards to how you’ve performed with this song/lesson (if you’ve played it before). You can see an example in the fourth image below. What I can see is that I need to update my screenshots. But I believe I’ve mentioned my ability to procrastinate.
When you’re ready to go, simply click the Play button and your song/lesson will begin. That’s where the magic happens. The app user interface (UI) then creates a moving tablature system that combines what worked for the Guitar Hero games with the learning tool that tablature provides. Another part of the magic—one of the Five Magics for Megadeth fans perhaps—is that a lot of the narration in the Dave Mustaine: Rock Prodigy app is done by Dave Mustaine himself. Very cool.
Without going into intense detail, the app then does what it does best. It teaches you how to play guitar using the songs or lesson types you choose. This is the lesson system every new guitar student wishes for. The narrative in the app is incredibly helpful and can be paced to your individual liking. Songs/lessons can be paused at any stage, restarted at any stage, slowed down or looped. It’s the perfect lesson setup in my opinion. The settings and tuner that I mentioned earlier can also be accessed from the lesson section of the app. The whole thing is just really well thought out.
There is more than to the app than what I’ve covered in this article and each version of Rock Prodigy has its own little piece of individuality. That’s one of the reasons I have them all. I just wish I was good enough to have dedicated more time to the app in the last year. This year though, I plan on tracking my progress to see how far I’ve advanced as a guitar player using this tool and the songs I actually want to learn how to play. I’ll hopefully write about the results of that later this year. No more procrastination. Stay tuned.
That’s free guitar humour.