Tag Archives: Education

Soundhouse Music Alliance and Gigajam

Australian music educators and their schools can receive a free annual licence from to Gigajam VLE when they take up the new Soundhouse Music Alliance offer.

Soundhouse® Music Alliance oversees and promotes multi-media, music making and education for teachers and students. Its contemporary focus engages those interested in modern music-making. Each Soundhouse® enhances the curriculum of a school and provides a learning opportunity that is respected and admired. Soundhouse® facilities are specially equipped classrooms where students and teachers can learn, explore and experiment with their own music-making. Soundhouse® has individual studios equipped with modern multi-media equipment and digital technology enabling experienced and novice musicians to create their own composition or learn from prepared recordings. The Soundhouse® Music Alliance is a Registered Charitable Foundation.

For further details visit Soundhouse Music Alliance @www.soundhouse.org.au


Gigajam to expand into Hong Kong education market from 2011

Breaking News –

Following the completion of successful discussions, which  started at the British Education Teaching with Technology show in London in January 2010, Gigajam has appointed ETC Edutech to represent the sale of Gigajam products in Hong Kong.

Brian Greene MD of Gigajam said, “It is an exciting development for us with Gigajam now being available through trusted partners in Australia, Netherlands, Finland and now Hong Kong. These are small steps for us as we remain focused and committed to completing a successful mission in the UK before attempting to execute a genuine global expansion. That being said, we are delighted that these opportunities are coming our way and they will provide solid stepping stones for us as we expand our reach.”

More to follow.

Gigajam will appear in the 2011 Catalogue for ETC Eductech and will be represented by the company locally. 

For more information please contact:

Brian Greene brian.greene@gigajam.com

Tel 0800 055 6797

Mob 07976 208859

Gigajam&Yamaha BETT 2010 – Creating Musicians

Music Classroom of the Future - Creating Musicians

Gigajam&Yamaha will be launching their Music Classroom for the Future education solutions during the BETT show at Olympia in January 2010. BETT is the world’s largest ICT in education show and will be visited by over 27,000 delegates involved in education.

Brian Greene, Managing Director of Gigajam said, “Gigajam&Yamaha have shared a vision that all children can have the chance to experience learning a musical instrument over a sustained period. We have been advocating, through the government’s Music Manifesto,that increasing participation requires a technological solution to support and enhance the existing methods of delivering musical instrument tuition.

We believe that 100% participation is possible with Gigajam&Yamaha – music instrument tuition through eLearning – and that the focus now needs to be turned towards young people in secondary education, ensuring that programmes are progressive, sustained and provide continual assessment.”

John Hillier, Commercial Director of  Gigajam said, “This year we are heavily focused on Local Authorities,  Schools and Academies who our looking at transforming learning for the creative arts through the use of technology.”

Gigajam will be joined on stand by Yamaha ‘s much respected Education Manager Bill Martin, together with David Cooper, Director of One Man Band, Gigajam’s appointed Yamaha supplier. To demonstrate Gigajam’s use in UK schools music teachers Ian Wright, Head of Music at Tiverton High School and Sean Ashmore, Head of Music at Pleckgate High School will be visiting the stand to demonstrate their schools’ work.  Both schools are Gigajam Accredited Interactive Music Schools and will be presenting their ideas on harnessing technology and how it has increased participation and engagement in music.

For more information on Gigajam&Yamaha Music Classroom for the Future, then please contact:

Brian Greene |T: 07976 208859 |E: brian.greene@gigajam.com|W:  www.gigajam.com

The Gigajam&Yamaha Creating Musicians stand can be found on the National Gallery, Olympia, London  Wednesday 13th Jan – Saturday 16th Jan. Stand number V20.

Official! More music lessons – to improve memory, intelligence and behaviour

Professor Susan Hallam, of the Institute of Education, University of London, analysed scores of researchers’ studies on the benefits of music to children.

Her report found that learning a musical instrument at school improves children’s behaviour, memory and intelligence. The report was commissioned by the government.

Brian Greene, Managing Director, this week commented on the report, ‘ There is a general acceptance that the activities associated with learning a musical instrument have wide ranging benefits. The specifics and science in this report provide further compelling evicence that this is not just anecdotal. The government, music services and all those associated with music education in the UK, especially the music manifesto,  have worked exceedingly hard to provide more opportunities for pupils at school to access music lessons and a huge step change has been achieved.’

John Hillier, Director of Gigajam continued, ‘This report, yet again, confirms our belief that we need to add a technology assisted instrumental provision to provide the scale of opportunity and participation that we want for all our school students.  The main problems that face the delivery of large scale musical instrument tuition still persist and they are:

I.    Large scale sustained participation in learning a musical instrument is unaffordable under existing structures and,

II.    Even if there were enough money to pay for instrumental teachers there are simply not enough music teachers to deliver the number of traditionally delivered lessons required to give every student a chance to learn a musical instrument.

The government has been very generous recently, but even the current level of generosity will only provide one year of free tuition to primary school children during the currency of the funding . Most music services, who are the principle deliverers of instrumental tuition, are  probably now working close to capacity and more money will not provide a further step change.

What is needed, is for an additional technology assisted structure(s) to be added, alongside, and in addition, to the existing tried and tested structures delivered by music services.  The government has already adopted BECTA’s Harnessing Technology Strategy for teaching and learning, which when used inconjunction with the huge educational technological infrastructure that is available, through our National Education Network, will provide every child, wherever they are in the UK, with access and opportunity to sustained, high quality musical instrument tuition.  Gigajam’s suite of lesson content, curriculum and software, has already been developed with the current technology standards and  would provide students and teachers with:

anytime, anywhere access

independent learning

assessment for learning (formative, summative, continual and terminal assessment, supporting teaching and learning)

personalised learning

progressive and sustained pathways

integration with existing government strategies (music manifesto, musical futures, extended schools, ICTAC)

reach and scale

Gigajam is already being used to provide daily instrumental music lessons for individuals, small groups and whole classes, providing a scale of delivery unaffordable by existing methods. Whole class instruction can and does already take place everyday in Gigajam schools, both primary and secondary and you can see examples online on our Case Study pages.

Introducing Gigajam


Bradley Stoke Community College


For more information for Gigajam’s support of the government’s Music Manifesto, then please contact either:

John Hillier john.hillier@gigajam.com, or Brian Greene brian.greene@gigajam.com


Gigajam YouTube Channel Launched

How Gigajam worksGigajam have recently started using the YouTube Video hosting service to promote instructional vidoes of Gigajam in use and How to Use Gigajam. Please feel free to view the growing video channel at:


Brian Greene, Managing Director said, ‘This is a quick and easy way of sharing information and we have produced the short videos in an informal and simple manner, reflecting the ease with which the web can be used to communicate. We will also be publishing the videos in a number of areas of the web, which will include our own support section, as well as community and social networking areas such as Facebook, Gigajam Group, www.facebook.com and the UK music education community portal, Teaching Music, www.teachingmusic.org.uk

For further information on How to use Gigajam, then please feel free to contact us at:

T: 0800 055 6797

E: support@gigajam.com

W1: www.gigajam.com

W2: http://schools.gigajam.com

W3: www.gigajamonline.com

W4: www.gigajam.tv

Gigajam Autumn 2009 UK Roadshow

SLF2009Gigajam will be out and about across the UK in the autumn, focused on providing local audiences with an opportunity to meet the producers and see Gigajam in action.

SFL 2009 Adrian Carey demonstrating the drums software

The Gigajam Team will be demonstrating the new GigajamVLE service that enables students to learn at school and continue at home. It also provides an integrated ePortfolio to store and automatically mark students’ performances. The system also provides detailed reports for teachers, on students’ progress, to help with continual, formative and summative assessment.

Please feel free to register an account and demo GigajamVLE at www.gigajamonline.com The first lessons for guitar, bass, keyboards and drums are free.

Autumn 2009

The autumn schedule is currently:

3rd and 4th  September 2009

Scottish Association of Music EducatorsStirling University.

18th and 19th  September 2009

National Association of Music Educators – University of York.

23rd and 24th September 2009

Scottish Learning Festival – SECC Glasgow (Stand D30)

3rd and 4th November 2009

Specialist Schools and Academies Trust  Annual Music Conference – Yehudi Menuhin School, Cobham

25th and 26th November 2009

Specialist Schools and Acdemies Trust Annual Conference – ICC Birmingham (Stand B20)

Winter/Spring 2010

13th-16th Jaunary 2010,

British Education Teaching with Technology Show (BETT) – Olympia Earls Court, London (Stand V20 National Gallery)

Gigajam are planning to be on hand at The Education Show NEC  and the SSAT Annual Arts Confernce in 2010.

For more information on Gigajam and how we help create more musicians, with our partners, then please contact:

Email Brian Greene or phone 07976 208859. [vCard]

Email John Hillier or phone 07956 466440. [vCard]

Gigajam is an affordable ICT based instrumental tuition programme that provides a scalable solution to teaching and learning the guitar, bass, keyboard and drums. If you would like to know more about Gigajam and how it is helping create musicians, then please feel free to get in touch.

Gigajam can provide stand alone, network and Learning Platform VLE solutions for Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and Local Authorities.

Web http://schools.gigajam.com
Tel 0800 055 6797

Future School of Finland gets Gigajam

If you are having trouble viewing this email, please view our web version:

Gigajam - Creating Musicians

Gigajamming in Future School of Finland

Gigajam has been chosen for the Future School of Finland project in the City of Oulu. This is an exciting project which take a holistic look at education, taking the physical environments, curriculum, and resources as a whole.

The Future School project is transforming education in a similar way to UK initiatives such as BSF, the Music Manifesto and the Harnessing Technology strategy. Although we are playing a small part, we are proud to be involved in such innovation.

More information is available here.


For more information on Gigajam and how we help create more musicians with our partners then please contact:

Email Brian Greene or phone 07976 208859. [vCard]

Email John Hillier or phone 07956 466440. [vCard]

Gigajam is an affordable ICT based instrumental tuition programme that provides a scalable solution to teaching and learning the guitar, bass, keyboard and drums. If you would like to know more about Gigajam and how it is helping create musicians, then please feel free to get in touch.

Gigajam can provide stand alone, network and Learning Platform VLE solutions for Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and Local Authorities.

Web http://schools.gigajam.com
Tel 0800 055 6797

Bucks Gets Gigajamming

Mike Woods explains how the School Improvement Service for Music and ICT worked together with Music Services at Bucks County Council to create a simple model for every child in the county to have access to musical instrument tuition.

Schools across Buckinghamshire are now able to offer all students the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, thanks to a project involving ICT, classroom teachers and music specialists across the county. This has been the first project of its kind in terms of creating dissemination centres and collaboration on such a large scale; utilising broadband technology as the delivery mechanism.

As Buckinghamshire County Council ICT adviser, it is one of my priorities to look for ways to develop the creative use of ICT across the curriculum. When I came across Gigajam’s Essential Skills Course, I could see the potential for rolling this innovative software out across the county via BucksGfL, the Buckinghamshire Grid for Learning Broadband Network, as a cost-effective way of linking ICT with music. Also, I envisaged that students would be able to develop their ICT skills using a practical application linked to our VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), either as part of their music lessons, or as an extra curricular activity.

We are a very rural authority with many small schools spread across a wide geographic area and the project also had to involve primary, secondary and special schools, so the solution I chose had to tick as many boxes as possible for all the schools.

Gigajam’s software-based curriculum for the guitar, bass, keyboards and drums provides high quality educational pathways that teach musical theory as students learn how to play a modern musical instrument. To make best use of the software, students progress through the lessons using a computer and a Yamaha MIDI-enabled musical instrument. The suite of instruments chosen for the schools provides students with access to keyboards, drums, guitars and bass guitars, and consist of PSR E403s, DD-55s and two EZ-AGs, to complement the software.

The user-friendly lesson instructions include ‘how to’ videos with professional musicians, audio files, backing tracks and an electronic performance assessment facility for immediate feedback. Students can select multimedia to suit their individual learning styles and the analysis software allows them to evaluate their own progress. The interactive courses are carefully structured so that students learning different instruments develop complementary skills, enabling them to play as a band from the very first lesson.

Thirty schools have been given access to the full Gigajam Essential Skills Course for all four instruments together with the Yamaha musical instruments to carry out the lessons. The schools were chosen in consultation with the advisers responsible for the Buckinghamshire Music Service, not only because of their enthusiasm for the development of music within the curriculum but also because of their interest in the use of ICT. Over an initial two year period we are providing training for them and working with them to develop sustainable curriculum models suitable for each school’s needs.

Five of the thirty schools were selected to take a lead role as mentor schools to become ‘music education hubs’ due to their geographic location across the county and their high level of expertise in music and ICT. Each of these mentor schools was nominated to be the hub for support and best practice guidance for five protégé schools, creating a web of support between all thirty schools. They were also tasked to provide further musical instrument opportunities for curriculum development, as well as after school and out-of-hours community projects.

Access for schools to Gigajam content is through BucksGfL, the County Broadband VLE (www.bucksgfl.org.uk). Gigajam created a website specifically for the project, which was then integrated into the VLE by Atomwide, providers of technical support for BucksGfL. This means that we now have an interactive music school sitting on our Virtual Learning Environment, and our ‘single sign-on’ user authentication system makes the software available to all Bucks students who can log on to the VLE at any time and from anywhere, whether it’s from school or from home.

Via the Bucks Grid for Learning, mentor and protégé schools also have access to a wide range of support resources, including the opportunity to use our Adobe ‘Connect’ video conference system to communicate with each other, as well as with Gigajam’s head office. We are also planning to provide Video Conference Master Classes, demonstrating both musical developments and the effective use of ICT. Schools within the project are already discussing joint rock band performances over the video conferencing link!

All of the other schools in the county who use the VLE have been provided with access to the first five Gigajam lessons for the guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. The Buckinghamshire Teaching and Learning Centre and Music Services Centre in Aylesbury also have full access to Gigajam content and software to enable them to support schools, and a set of loan instruments is also available to any school who would like to join in and ‘have a go’.

This is a huge project in terms of its collaborative elements, and as I write we are only just over a term into the project, but we can already see benefits for pupils and schools beyond those originally envisaged. Schools across all phases and of all types are working together in imaginative ways, delivering true personalised learning to pupils. A whole year of planning has produced a sophisticated, yet simple model of delivery that gives every single child within Buckinghamshire access to music lessons in a new and exciting way.

Feedback from pupils and teachers has been incredibly positive:

Staff have commented that:

“Gigajam has brought my music department into the 21st Century.”

“The project has provided me with the chance to learn to play an instrument in an interactive way and at my own pace.”

“The software has enabled a different group of children to access music in a totally practical way – another pathway to learning has been opened to them.”

Pupils say that:

“It’s fun and easy to use.” Hannah yr8

“The software gives a good insight into new instruments and is great to use at home.” Nathan yr11

“I didn’t know that a PC could be used to teach an instrument, and my Dad’s a computer technician!” Maryam yr8

“It rocks!” Darius – yr8

Embracing the use of ICT to Support Learning to Play an Instrument

Involvement with music is very important to most children and teenagers – performing
and composing, as well as listening…..their engagement and level of motivation, depends
on the level of ownership of their music-making: on their autonomy within it and the
extent to which they can exert control.

(Hargreaves and Marshall)

In the last couple of years I have been saddened by the response of many music educators
and tutors to proposals to use ICT to widen participation rates in the learning of
musical instruments. The response has been essentially to reject the use of ICT because
it will, “put us out of a job.”

This complaint is reminiscent of the past and just as inaccurate now as it was then.
Let me explore the issues.

“The use of ICT will put us out of  a job”

The majority of tutors and peripatetic music teachers working in the school sector
are employed by Music Services who are members of the Federation of Music Services
(FMS). The following information was acquired from the FMS website (some of it no
longer appears on the current website) at http://www.federationmusic.org.uk/ .

The FMS is a registered charity that was created to provide a single effective voice
to help lead and develop national strategy and offer advice on music provision, particularly
through local music service partners. The organisation has agreed the following core

  • Access: opening the world of music to every child
  • Progression: innovative, sustained and structured programmes that enable young people
    to realise their full potential
  • Expertise: well trained professional staff
  • Diversity: music to match all tastes, all backgrounds

So the FMS is interested in “all children”, in “innovative, sustained and structured”
programmes, and in catering for “all musical tastes”. Surely then, its members should
open to considering how ICT can help deliver instrumental tuition to all children
in innovative ways which help to cater for the interests of young people.

There is plenty of evidence that members of the services do indeed strive to fulfil
the majority of these aims. However, the area in which they fall short is that of
reaching every child and in providing ‘sustained’ support.

Great  work is being done under the banner of programmes like  ‘Wider Opportunities’
where whole year groups are being given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.
The problem is providing for the children beyond that year. These programmes are expensive
of time and staff support and there are insufficient resources to allow all the children
to continue beyond the initial year, as the they focus on providing opportunities
for the next year group.

No matter how the current ‘support cake’ is sliced, there is not enough money to pay
enough staff to provide continuing support for all the children, using current methods.

Let us have a look at the numbers.

FMS member services provide instrumental and vocal tuition for more than 750,000 children,
young people and adults each week and employ more than 10,000 instrumental and vocal
teachers, enriching the communities and schools in which they live and work.

[From the old FMS website.]

Doing the maths this means that each tutor deals with an average of 75 children per
week. One assumes that tutors do not change their pupils every week, so the average
number of pupils each tutor has on their books at any one time is approximately 75.

The FMS website states:

Currently, 147 Local Education Authority Music Services are members of the Federation
representing well over 500,000 pupils and 10,000 teachers.

The number of children in KS2 receiving instrumental lessons through their local service
has risen by 6% since 2002 – from 7% to 13%.  This is an increase of more than
116,000 children in three years.

In KS3 and KS4, the proportion of children receiving instrumental tuition is 8% and
5% respectively   Importantly, in most cases, the tuition extends over a
number of years.

Let us explore these figures and relate them to the number of students in the relevant
age groups in the population.

Taking the situation in KS2 (quoted above):

If 6% = 116,000 then there are 116,000/6 x 100 = 1,933,333 children in KS2. Of whom
87% (100%-13%) or 1,682,000 are not receiving instrumental tuition.

Exploring the situation in KS3 and KS4 (quoted above):

Using government statistics (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/…/index.html).
Assuming that KS3 deals with ages 12,13 and 14 and KS4 with ages 15 and 16[1];
of the 3,769,500 students in these age groups, 554,000 are in private schools. Therefore
in the state system:
KS3 (Ages 12,13,14 = 2,210,100 – 324,644 (private schools) = 1,885,456
KS4 (Ages 15,16 = 1,559,400 – 229,356 (private schools) = 1,330,044

Therefore, if 8% of KS3 and 5% of KS4 are receiving instrumental tuition (FMS figures,
above), then the numbers of those who are not receiving instrumental tuition
are (92% (1,734,620) and 95% (1,263,542 pupils) respectively.

So adding up all those not currently receiving instrumental tuition:

KS2: 1,682,000
KS3: 1,885,456
KS4: 1,330,044
Total: 4,897,500

4,897,500 children are not currently receiving instrumental tuition within the services
who are members of the FMS and for whom the majority of tutors operating in the school
system work.

Assuming a 50% error in the above (highly unlikely), this still leaves 2,448,750
children not receiving instrumental tuition. At 75 pupils per tutor, this would require
an additional 32,650 instrumental tutors at a minimum cost (to someone) of £25 per
hour = £816,250 for a single hours lesson for these children, x 39 weeks (school year)
=  £31,833,750 per year.

All those children who do receive instrumental tuition outside of the state system
are being paid for by someone (usually the parents).

So, given an annual shortfall of 32,650 instrumental tutors at an absolutely minimum
annual cost of £31,833,750 (this figure does not include ‘on-costs’), how on earth
can tutors claim that the technology will “Put us out of a job” ???

Far from it.

Technology, used in conjunction with carefully thought out, “innovative”, “structured”
programmes provides a real opportunity to cater for the “tastes” of the majority of
children on a “sustained” and affordable basis.

It will require the combined efforts of every music teacher, every peripatetic
and other member of music services, plus the relevant programmes employing ICT to
begin to meet the challenge of delivering “instrumental tuition to every child”.

By embracing the use of ICT,  there are opportunities for every music educator/tutor
to support the learning to play instruments of many more children than they are currently
able to without the use of ICT.

Far from ‘threatening your jobs’ ICT is offering the opportunity to engage more pupils
in instrumental learning and give even more students the benefit of your expert knowledge.

Developing the skills of independent learners

Of course, the effective use of ICT to support instrumental tuition will require a
willingness  to embrace change by a “well trained professional staff”  of
music educators and tutors.  They will have to get to terms with the technology
and be able to support the students in developing the skills required to make effective
us of the ICT.

But this is not new.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was huge interest in the emerging power of ICT
for supporting the development of ‘independent learning’. There were, arguably, 2
forces which drove this interest:

  1. A recognition by far-sighted teachers that independent learning could ‘open up’ the
    curriculum – allowing learners to pursue their own areas of interest and effectively
    enable ‘individualised’ curricula.
  2. A, mistaken, view by those responsible for budgets that ICT could be used to replace

The second view led to institutions building ‘independent/flexible learning centres’
and sending learners to them for hours on end. Results were not good. Gradually the
penny dropped, and the principles of ‘supported self study’ / ‘flexible learning’
were taken on board.

The proponents of the first ‘force’ had espoused the principles of ‘supported self
study/flexible learning’ for many years, and there were some exciting success results
in LEAs (the distant forerunners of LAs) as far apart as Somerset and Northumberland;
with student grades going up and learners actually ‘enjoying’ what they were doing.
The courses were devised with heavy teacher support/direction in the initial phases,
and this support was withdrawn gradually as the learners acquired the skills of independent
learners and became able to manage their own learning. This allowed pupils to progress
at their own individual paces without ‘holding back’ the other members of a class.

If the benefits of ICT are to be recognised and exploited within Music Education,
there are some challenges facing Music Teachers/Leaders:

1 We will have to recognise that the learners may well have higher levels of skills
in the technology than we do. Or, that the learners will more readily acquire the
skills. At a  NAACE seminar in 2006, a speaker addressed the issue of ‘technology’:

“Technology is what happens after you are born. To the students of today it is just

2 We will need to get to grips with the technology – at least at the level of understanding
its capabilities and limitations – so that we can make effective judgements about
how and when to use it.

3. Taking on board some of the points made by Howard Goodall in his speech at the
Music Manifesto Signatories inaugural conference – we need to:

“Start where the students are at”.

Their music, and the technologies which support the popular music industry, draw heavily
on the use of ICT.

4. The technology presents us with the opportunity to address issues of inclusion
by supporting a wider range of learning opportunities – from whole class teaching,
to individual learning, to after school activities, to mixed aged groups, etc.. In
a whole class environment, supported by adequate ICT resources and appropriately-enabled
instruments, the music teacher/tutor can support instrumental learning for larger
class sizes where the individuals are all learning at their own paces and on different
instruments. In the initial phases of such a situation, the teacher/tutor/leader will
need to direct the learning and ensure that the learners are able to manage the materials
and the technology. In other words, we need to help them develop the skills of independent
learners so that they become increasingly able to manage their own learning and progress
at their own paces.

The choice for music educators and tutors is simple:

Luddite or Learning Support?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

Adrian Carey

[1] Not strictly accurate given the cut off dates for entry into the school system,
and thus year groups, but close enough to make the point.