When learning a popular song on a guitar, wouldn't it be great if guitarists like James Hetfield, Jerry Garcia or Ritchie Blackmore could teach you how to play their music? The first product from Los Angeles company The Way of H offers the next-best thing. Rock Prodigy is an interactive teaching app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that offers a quick way to learn, brush up on, or hone guitar skills using a real instrument and original recordings. The app uses the device's microphone to listen to your playing, and provides feedback to help quickly correct errors or improve technique.

With Rock Prodigy, you don't place your fingers on virtual strings displayed on an iDevice screen, you use your own guitar and pick at real strings. As long as the instrument is in tune, the app will register what you're playing acoustically via the built-in microphone of the chosen Apple device and use polyphonic pitch-recognition to compare what you're strumming with original master recordings of popular guitar-based classics. Players can also plug in a headset with microphone or a basic line-in guitar input adapter, like those made by IK Multimedia, Peavey, PRS and so on.

Rock Prodigy offers real-time interaction with tab-like performance cues that show precise rhythm, timing and note durations for all four levels of play. Beginners might start with the easy level, that lets you play one note at a time until you get a feel for the song, then move onto the next level to put more emphasis on the main riffs. After that you'll be ready to play at least half of the notes all on your own before moving onto the final Prodigy stage, where you get to master the song completely.

The app's practice mode offers useful learning tools like fast-forward, rewind, touch-scroll, auto-pause, auto-play, chord names, and note names. Your playing can even be rated in perform mode, and your score posted to the forthcoming Rock Prodigy leaderboard.

In addition to learning to shred, riff and pick like the very best of them, the app also has lessons covering tuning, scales, chords, rhythm and timing.

The Rock Prodigy app is available for free download from iTunes, with premium feature packs starting at US$9.99.

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