When we last left our humble narrator, I was making my way through the Rock Band drums. I made it all the way through on Medium, and a fair distance on Hard. But all the skills aren’t there yet: in particular, my foot has a harder time sight-reading than my hands (should have practiced organ more in high school, I guess), and I also have a hard time playing with my foot quickly, accurately, and without fatigue. So clearly my technique needs some work.

I ended up making it through tier 6; in a bit of a surprise, my guitar nemesis, which was also the song I did worst on on Medium drums, namely Green Grass, was the song that I did by far the best on: I had a 220-odd note streak, almost a hundred over my longest streak on any other song, and I probably would have five-starred it if I hadn’t been hoarding energy waiting for tricky bits. (Which is a sign of how bad I am on drums: I have yet to five-star a single song.) But two of the songs on tier 7 were too tricky for me; I’m sure I can overcome this problem with more practice, but the consensus seems to be that Rock Band 2 is significantly better for honing your drum skills.

So I decided to give vocals a try today. In a bit of arrogance, I decided to start on Hard, despite my lack of singing experience; I’m doing okay through the first 20 songs, though I have had to restart a few. And it’s certainly harder than it looks: while I’ve five-starred several songs, I haven’t come particularly close to perfect on any of them. (Except maybe the rap ones? Which I would just as soon not have in the game; it’s not like any of them are particularly wonderful on guitar, either.) Unsurprisingly, the ones with female vocalists are the hardest for me (I don’t have a particularly wide singing range; yes, I am aware that I can skip up/down an octave if it helps, but it usually doesn’t); I have renewed respect for women who do well singing the game, given the relatively large number of male vocal parts.

Usually, if I fail out a song, it’s because I’m not managing to produce a consistent pitch at all, rather than because I’m consistently producing the wrong pitch. So the moral here seems to be: it’s much better to sing incorrectly with conviction than to sing with so little conviction that it can’t tell what you’re trying to do. Of course, it does no good to belt out a wrong note after note, you have to alter your singing according to the game’s feedback; it turns out, though, that most of the time if I’m singing with enough conviction then I can actually do a decent job myself of telling whether or not I’m doing a good job. So the moral here is: don’t try to avoid being judged: the mere fact that you set your actions up to be testable will have good effects. (Just like programming!)

Actually, I’m not quite sure how the game detects the pitch: I don’t feel that I’m wobbling in my pitch all that much when I’m singing quietly, but maybe I’m wrong? It seems to pick up Miranda’s voice okay when she’s singing relatively quietly. Just for kicks, I tried whistling, because I’m better at holding pitch there than when singing, but it doesn’t pick that up at all. (Which is fine, I’d rather sing than whistle.)

I also got pretty hoarse; I’m not sure whether I’m suffering more injuries when playing drums or vocals, but both are more of a physical challenge than guitar is. Fortunately, I’m not yet suffering to the extent that Mitch is

Guitar remains my favorite instrument. (It’s also the one that I’m by far the best at; no coincidence there, though the linkage isn’t quite as straightforward as me simply liking things that I’m good at.) But, as with drums, I’m very glad I’ve given vocals a try; I’m not sure yet whether or not I’ll give it a try on Expert after going through Hard (heck, I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish all the songs on Hard!), but I might, and I imagine that I’ll give vocals a try again in Rock Band 2 and on future downloadable content that I purchase.

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