Tag Archives: Music Lessons

Henley Review of Music Education – Explore the role of technology in increasing instrumental skills in the curriculum

Learning with the aide of online lessons and interactive drum kit from Yamaha

At this years British Education Teaching with Technology conference, Ian Wright presented a 30 minute seminar on his use of technology for music. He wanted to help students’ engage more fully with the music curriculum, learn a musical instrument and succeed at music.

You can view the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfe5Bguwwrc

We have transcribed the contents below.

Ian says, “Let’s imagine that you are bit nervous and you are; in a big class and you have been to primary school and sung in assemblies and then you come along in year 7 and start at your high school. You have one hour a week and you are expecting, as a music teacher, for your students to take an option of going on to Key Stage 4 in music. So what skill have you given them? What confidence have you given them, to enable them to make that decision and take that choice?

So, I was looking at package that would help the students; follow their progress, help them develop a sense of their independence, in their learning, give them responsibility for their progress, as well as give them the skills they would need to go on to KS4 and succeed.

Most childrens’ experiences are limited to, perhaps, not always, but perhaps, a bit of keyboard work, or, a bit of samba drumming. I wanted something more than that though, which would give them skills to step outside of the classroom and keep going.

Students don’t use Gigajam all the time, please do not misunderstand me, we do, do; the Samba, we do the singing, the composition, all these other great things. This is one part of the curriculum that we offer within Key Stage 3. But, what’s different about this is we are pushing them to develop instrumental skills that they might not otherwise have. Giving them an opportunity to perform with their friends as a band, not just in the classroom, but breaktime, lunch time, after school, in the youth centre and so on.”

“I am Ian Wright, Head of Music at Tiverton High School in Devon. Its a high school of 1300 pupils 11-16 and we started using Gigajam around 4-5 years ago. At that time we had very few children learning a musical instrument and I was very aware that there was a large number of children that were not engaging with the curriclum. They weren’t really succeeding in music and I wanted to find a way to support every child in the classroom, find a way that we could help these children engage with the curriculum and help these children learn a musical instrument, so we looked to technology and found Gigajam and started to embrace Gigajam.

To know more about how Gigajam integrates with Ian’s approach at Tiverton High School, please watch this video of Gigajam in Action


Read Futurelab’s case study with Ian Wright – ‘Music for all at Tiverton” Merlin John


Tiverton students perform a rearranged version of Gigajam’s “The First Time”, now called Valentine Rock. (This is a Level One piece = Grade 3 – Level One NQF)


For more information contact:

Brian Greene

Creating More Musicians for Less

Gigajam&Yamaha - Learning the drums

Affordable instrumental tuition in the curriculum

If you feel that your students would benefit more from the music curriculum, if they had more instrumental skills, then perhaps this is a good time to consider how using Gigajam could help you to support more students learn to play a musical instrument.

Gigajam’s award winning Essential Skills Courses for guitar, bass, keyboard and drums can now be delivered online to students at school and at home and provides each pupil with an e-Portfolio to store their work and online classroom reporting for teachers.

With funding under the spotlight you may be interested to know that Gigajam is just £1 per pupil per annum and can be purchased for just one key stage, making it affordable for the smallest music department budget.

We also offer discounts for longer licencing, providing security and legacy for your programmes of study.


Secondary School KS3 Licence for 4 form entry 360 pupils

Term of licence years No’ of Pupils StandardCost


Saving Annual Cost £ Discount price per pupil
01 360 360 360 £1.00
02 360 720 72 648 £0.90
03 360 1080 162 918 £0.85
04 360 1440 288 1152 £0.80
05 360 1800 440 1350 £0.75

For our full list of options See our Products & Pricing  

Benefits of Gigajam

  • individual, small group and whole class instrumental tuition
  • personalised and collaborative learning
  • independent and skills based learning
  • continual, formative and summative assessment
  • progressive pathways of study (equivalent to debut-grade 5)
  • embeds ICT in music
  • affordable, with flexible licencing options
  • student individual ePortfolio
  • online reporting for teachers
  • Arts Award programme of study for Level One Bronze Award – NEW *Contact us for details*


Curriculum classroom instrumental tuition

For more information about Gigajam please contact us:


0800 0556797

 07976 208859

Gigajam upgraded on London Grid for Learning

Schools connected to the London Grid for Learning can now experience  the first level of GigajamVLE on the LGFL platform.

Gigajam have increased the functionality to include the much acclaimed assessment for learning functionality that provides pupils with an ePortfolio for students and automatic marking and online reporting for teachers. Pupils can learn to play guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and follow the new theory lessons.

Teachers and pupils can access the content by logging into the LGFL www.lgfl.org.uk and visiting the Gigajam content pages at:


Access to the content is restricted to LGFL users and can be accessed by users using their LGFL shibboleth username and passsword.

For more information and to access Gigajam’s Level 2 and 3 content, then please contact us:


Tel 0800 055 6797

Mob 07976 208859

Gigajam extended in Buckinghamshire

All Buckinghamshire schools, connected to the Bucks Grid for Learning, can continue to learn: guitar, bass, keyboard and drums with Gigajam online.

Teacher guiding online keyboard lesson

The licence to the Bucks Grid for Learning, which started in 2005, has been extended until 30th June 2011 so that students can continue to study in school and at home simply by logging onto www.bucksgfl.org.uk and searching for Gigajam.

Brian Greene MD of Gigajam said, “Bucks have been a terrific partner for us over the last 5 years and we are delighted to continue to provide great quailty digital curriculum and interactive software for all of their students. The Bucks Grid is one of the most effectively deployed VLE’s in the UK and makes access to our content, in and out of school, very simple and safe for the county’s teachers and pupils. We hope that we can upgrade the service to our flagship GigajamVLE in the new year, with the additional student ePortfolio and teacher and parent reporting functionality and will be working with Mike Woods and his team to integrate with the Bucks Learning Gateway.”

Gigajam’s agreement with Bucks includes supprt to schools, so if any Buckinghamshire School needs any further information on how to get the most from Gigajam the please do not hesitate to contact us:

Brian Greene


0800 055 6797

07976 208859

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


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

Can technology be part of a solution that provides sustainable, tangible, progressive musical instrumental skills?

Merlin John writes on Futurelab about the use of technology in teaching music.


The search for an effective solution led Ian to the online music service Gigajam,
which became the digital ‘glue’ to hold together the learning and teaching and to
make the resources – PCs and instruments and rooms – go further. “I looked at Gigajam
for all sorts of reasons but particularly the


,” says Ian. “In reality this is the first time children in our music lessons have
genuinely had the opportunity to work at their own pace, at their own level.

Being part of a broad music offering for students, and playing a part in providing
more music making opportunities is everything Gigajam was ever created for. Thank
you to Ian and his team at Tiverton.

Tiverton High School is one of the 400 schools in the UK using Gigajam regularly.

Gigajam’s early content (first five lessons) is freely available to the 4 million
UK school students in 6 of the 11 UK Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC).

  1. London Grid for Learning
  2. West Midlands NET
  3. South West Grid for Learning
  4. Northern Grid for Learning
  5. Scottish Schools Digital Network – Glow
  6. East of England Broadband Network

as well as across the following Local Authorities;

  1. City of Salford
  2. City of Sunderland
  3. Buckinghamshire CC
  4. Cheshire CC
  5. Leicester City
  6. Argyll & Bute

Please contact your RBC if you would like to try a few lessons out. Please also contact
your RBC or LA if they don’t have it yet, they will consider purchasing content and
services if they know their schools want it.

Brian Greene