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Piano Video Game Music

By Tim Topham | Repertoire

May 24 2011

piano video game music

If you teach boys in particular, you have no doubt had students requesting to play pieces they’ve heard from computer games – Super Mario, World of Warcraft, Zelda, Mass Effect – are just a few that come to mind from my experience. Video game music is pretty popular with my teens.

Computer game music is big business and kids (boys in particular) love playing them.

Thankfully, some of it is really very musical and has great potential as piano solos.

Teaching Options

Even though I consider myself borderline Gen Y, I never played many computer games when I was younger (and still don’t) and so have little knowledge of this music; I can therefore only imagine how much more daunting it would be for older teachers! Given this, I thought I’d post some ideas of how to approach this music and a heap of good internet resources for your studio.

If you’re prepared to entertain the thought of a student learning video game music (which I sincerely hope you are!), you’ve got three options:

  1. Find the sheet music and teach from it (re-arrange if necessary)
  2. Learn the music by ear with the student (or transcribe it beforehand if you have time!)
  3. Get the student to learn it off youtube!

Option 2 is great if you have time as the skill of transcribing and playing by ear is fantastic for any student. Kids can do option 3 in their own time anyway (I actually encourage it as long as they’ve done my work first!).

Where to find transcriptions

There’s very little officially published video game music.

Alfred did publish the Super Mario Series book a few years back which will be a great resource if students want to learn that music. Unfortunately, kids tend to be very specific about what game they enjoy playing and the pieces they most want to play, so ordering books such as these might not be best value for money.

Another option is to find transcriptions online. Many of these sites have a really bad layout, but if you can look past that, find the search box and hit enter, you’ll have instant access to music that can at least get you started.

Transcription quality varies HUGELY so be prepared to adjust and simplify as you go!

Game Music – HEAPS of music arranged console/company or game. All the main games are featured. Great site. I recently got the Super Mario Bros theme (very difficult by the way)

Rampancy.net – for HALO music

Herbalcell – strange name, but lots of Zelda music!

Ichigo’s – Final Fantasy + others

Adventuresinpixels.net– All the cartoon themes you need in easy/hard arrangements – including things like Rug Rats, Inspector Gadget, Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. Great site!

What’s your favourite?

Have you taught video game music? What’s your favourite piece so far?

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Tim Topham

About the Author

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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