Pros and Cons of the Yamaha EZ-AG

EZ-AGWe
often recommend the Yamaha EZ-AG as a way for a beginning guitarist to get the most
from their Gigajam lessons and software. Here’s a quick rundown on the pros and cons.

Pros

    1. Is a midi controller- can be used as an input device for notation and sequencing
    programs –guitarists do not have to input via a keyboard.

    2. Has built in hardware synthesiser.

    3. Is a very cheap midi input solution (approximately £140 ex VAT + £40 for Midi-USB
    interface).

    4. Is funky – kids like it

    5. The buttons on the fret board do not hurt fingers – many children give up on the
    guitar because the strings hurt their fingers. With the EZ-AG, they learn the fingering
    and patterns, etc and succeed without sore fingers. They are then more willing to
    ‘put up with the sore fingers’ when transferring to a ‘real’ guitar.

    6. It is always in tune.

    7. It has a range of sounds

    8. Can be used as a Bass guitar:

    • It has a number of Bass voices – when used with a bass voice the sounds are transposed
    to the correct octave and the midi data when analysed appears in the bass clef.

    • The frets are closer together and smaller hands can manage it better.

    • The bass patterns and knowledge can be learned and acquired and practised on the
    EZ-AG.

    • The performances can be analysed using Xtractor and Analyser.

    • The learner can quickly adapt to the ‘proper bass’ fret spacing and feel.

    9. Can be used with batteries/or with a mains power supply.

    10. Can be used with a standard guitar ¼ inch jack lead to connect to an amp – for
    performance purposes.

    11. Has a built in ‘Capo’ function.

    12. It works.

    Cons

    1. Is not a ‘real’ guitar – this poses some problems for some music teachers (esp.
    guitarists).

    2. Constantly sends ‘System Exclusive’ data as well as midi performance data which
    can cause problems with various combinations of interfaces/OS/SequenceXtra (in Xtractor)
    – e.g. will only work with MOTU Fastlane on Mac version of Xtractor.

    3. Needs a power supply/batteries.

    4. Is a bit ‘plasticky’.

    5. Controls are in a daft place on the neck where everyone picks up the instrument
    and triggers several keys at once causing the device to need a re-set (power OFF/ON).

    6. Has only 12 frets.

    7. Can’t bend strings.

    8. Can’t glissando in an analogue manner – can do a ‘digital (i.e. stepped)’ glissando.

    >

Gigajam Announces Free to View Online TV Lessons

All 45 episodes of Gigajam’s educational TV series for Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, and
Drums are now available online in time for Christmas, free, at www.gigajam.tv.

Gigajam previously broadest theses TV series’ across Europe on the Sky TV network.
Each episode focuses on one of the lessons from Level 1 of Gigajam’s award winning
Essential Skills Courses. The courses teach the fundamentals of music theory whilst
learning to play an instrument.

The skills learned in Level 1 equate to music grades Debut, 1, 2 and 3.

Gigajam felt that many websites, with both professional and user generated content,
provided only small snippets of learning, such as how to play a specific song. Gigajam’s
TV series, and the Essential Skills Courses they are based on, demonstrate a more
structured and progressive pathway of study. Students do not learn to play one song,
rather they develop the skills required to play many more.

Gigajam’s Essential Skills Courses get OCN Accreditation

Open College Network Credit4Learning, one of the UK’s national accreditation services
for learning and skills, has announced that Gigajam’s Essential Skills Courses for
the guitar, bass, keyboards and drums can now be studied to earn credits to gain entry
into further and higher education courses.

The courses contain learning outcomes, detailed lesson instructions that are supported
by ‘how to’ videos by professional musicians; play-along and record software to encourage
practice; and Analyser, Gigajam’s eAssessment software. This provides students with
a graphical representation of their performances and a score out of 100. Students
can then store their Analyser files in a personal e-portfolio.

The OCNcredit4learning credits will be awarded to students who complete each Gigajam
lesson. Students have to reach a required percentage score for each exercise to gain
the credits; and each lesson has been awarded a ‘credits score’ based on the number
of hours the average learner would take to complete the lesson. All students have
to do is present their performance to the required standard and have certain key exercises
witnessed by an approved assessor, who could be their school teacher, a private music
tutor, or by submitting performances via webcam to Gigajam.

Brian Greene, managing director at Gigajam said: “Gaining accreditation from OCNcredit4learning
is a major step forward for us. Studying and learning to play a musical instrument
is enough for many students, but giving them the recognition for their hard work that
can be put forward for future studies is a great incentive to continue learning. Many
of our students are school-based and a number of schools have expressed an interest
in some form of qualification or certification from us.”

Katherine Gillard, chief executive, OCNcredit4learning said: “We have worked closely
with Gigajam to establish the correct levels of attainment. For each completed Gigajam
level, students will be able to accumulate 14 credits at the corresponding National
Qualifications Framework level. Completion of each level is the equivalent of 140
hours of study recognised by the National Qualification Framework. Students completing
all three levels of a Gigajam course will now have achieved 14 OCN credits at each
of Entry Level, Level One and Level Two, forming part of the credits required for
entry into Further and Higher education.”

Schools, colleges and other organisations are able to register for accreditation of
the Gigajam Essential Skills courses through OCNcredit4learning. More details are
available on schools.gigajam.com or www.credit4learning.com

London Schools get Gigajam Upgrade

Schools across London have become the first in England to receive a Gigajam upgrade
via their local broadband network. London Grid for Learning hosts the first five lessons
of Gigajam’s Essential Skills Courses for guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, which
are freely available to schools.

The new-look lessons have been adapted in response to feedback from schools and were
developed to meet with the technical standards of Learning Platforms and anytime,
anywhere learning.

The five significant changes are:
• lessons now load much quicker, as they are presented through a web browser instead
of PDF files

• the ‘how to’ videos of professional musicians are embedded in the web pages, which
speeds up streaming
• all lessons are narrated, so that students can listen and read the instructions
• there are four lesson approaches to suit different learning styles;

o fully narrated lessons
o video and exercises only
o printable PDF book format

o TV shows

If your school is within the London Grid for Learning you are invited to use the new
lessons at www.lgfl.org.uk (http://cms.lgfl.net/lgfl/web/content/grid)

Gigajam sponsors RockIT! 2007

Teenagers
around the country are dusting off their drums and buffing up their bass guitars in
time to take part in a major music competition.
The massively popular Rock Idol – now re-named RockIT! – is underway again, giving
school-based bands the chance to strut their stuff.
And, the winners will get to walk away with musical kit and lesson software for the
guitar, base, keyboards and drums worth around £,2500.00 for their school, from main
sponsors Roland and Gigajam.
Hosted by the West Midlands Grid for Learning (WMNET), the project involves all ten
regional Grids for Learning in England, plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,
which provide broadband connection and a wealth of resources for use over broadband
to schools and colleges.
In keeping with its aim of promoting the use of ICT in education, RockIT! is a showcase
for technology, as the battle of the bands is conducted via video conference.
While an expert panel will give their judgement and both regional and national finals,
friends and supporters of the bands will have the chance to vote over the Internet
and to text and post comments to the judges.

As well as writing and performing an original piece of work, competitors are required
to create a BandBlog, with the option of using text, voice, music and even video to
chart their progress. This will be taken into account as part of the judging process.
Last year the band, Angel Fall, from Northern Ireland took the title after beating
off competition from 117 others and impressing judges with their sound and style.
Registration for this year’s bash opened on May 1st and bands can find out full details
from the official RockIT! website at www.rockit2007.org.uk

The final will be staged in Birmingham early in December, from where performances
will be relayed around the nation via video conference, as well as on BBC Big Screens
in several city centres.
Ends
The regional Grids for Learning, also known as Regional Broadband Consortia (RBCs)
were set up by the DfES five years ago. They were tasked with linking all schools
to broadband by December 2006. Now that has broadly been achieved, the RBCs are concentrating
upon providing good quality broadband enabled resources.
The RBCs now receive part funding from the DfES and part from their Local Authority
members.
For more information contact Jean Maund jean.maund@wmnet.org.uk

Gigajam Analyser 2.7 Released

Today Gigajam released their new Analyser 2.7 music assessment software.

Analyser is a unique tool that takes music files recorded by a student during a Gigajam
lesson exercise and generates a graphical display of how well the student did, along
with a percentage assessment rating.

It does this by comparing the student’s recorded performance with the professionally
written lesson content supplied as part of the the Gigajam Essential Skills courses.

The courses are geared around contemporary music for Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Drums
and are ideally suited to beginners and intermediate players alike.

A student first reads through the professionally written lesson notes, watches a video
of the exercise in question and then hears the music played back in the Gigajam Xtractor
software – which also allows the student to adjust the tempo and fade particular instruments
in and out of the mix. They are also able to isolate parts of an exercise by setting
loop points, so that they may focus on a particular number of bars.

If the student is using a MIDI enabled instrument, they can also record their own
performance alongside the exercise, save it to disk and play it back to hear how they
did. They may then push the “A” button to perform an analysis using Gigajam Analyser.

The student can also send the saved performance to their tutor or teacher via e-mail
so that a remote assessment can be performed using another copy of Gigajam Analyser
and Xtractor – without having to have any musical equipment hooked up whatsoever.
The remote tutor is also able to play back the recorded file to hear the students
performance using a PC whilst they visually assess the recording using Analyser.

Analyser forms part of a “closed loop” approach to education as part of Gigajam’s
policy to supply Key Stage 2 and 3 classrooms with an interactive music education
platform – which is also available for purchase using e-learning credits through the
Curriculum Online service.

It is also available on the Gigajam website to the general public as a single user
licence.

Gigajam Rocks The East

At this years E2BN conference, held between the 7th and 9th July 2003, at the Wyboston
Robinson College Centre, Gigajam exhibited its range of Xtractor Software and Lesson
Content offering to be available for Schools during the course of the forthcoming
academic year.

The Essential Drum Skills Course is currently scheduled to go live in September 2003,
with the Essential Skills courses for Guitar, Bass Guitar and Keyboards following
in January 2004.

The Gigajam Interactive Music School demonstrated the Drum Xtractor, together with
its unique multimedia Essential Drum Skills Course Pathway for Schools.

‘The Conference was tremendous, with an energetic ‘can do’ atmosphere’ said Brian
Greene, Education Director. ‘It really confirmed our belief that Education in the
UK is moving forward with great purpose and determination. Chris Kastel and his team
at E2BN ran a great event with credit to BECTA and the DfES for supporting it so well.
The delegates were keen and enthusiastic and the children from Harrold Priory Middle
School were a credit to their parents and teachers and an encouraging glimpse at the
future ahead’.

John Hillier, Gigajam’s Sales and Marketing Director said of the event. ‘It was amazing,
the response and enthusiasm that met Gigajam was well beyond our expectations. We
are really looking forward to developing the many relationships we have made here
within the Education Community’.

Gigajam, also demonstrated their unique e-assessment software that captures music
performances through MIDI instruments and provides a graphic comparison to the exercise
set. They also demonstrated ‘live’ the Online Theory Assessment developed by Gigajam
IT Director Rob Oldham. ‘The online multi-choice format enables students to complete
theory tasks at home or at school, crossing the boundary of the traditional educational
environment. It also helps with student development reporting and reduces the time
teachers spend marking – that’s got to be good news!’

Adrian Carey, Education Consultant concluded, ‘We had a great time and are looking
forward to a bright and busy future. We made a lot of friends, especially among the
children. They even made a video at the show of us working together’.

The Harrold Priory Middle School video is courtesy of Leslie and David – download
it here

‘Rock on Wyboston.you are the Rock and Roll Capital of the world’.

Useful links:

Creating Musicians