Tag Archives: Gigajam

What’s Your Story – Introducing Guitarist Dave Hornsey

Learning to Play Guitar with Gigajam

The days of me dreaming that I’ll be the next Gary Moore or Rory Gallagher are long gone. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get enormous pleasure from what I can do on a guitar nor from believing that I can be better. Indeed this is why I have been learning to play guitar with Gigajam. I had an acoustic guitar as a teenager but put neither the effort nor the structure into practice sessions and so it never really got anywhere – other than as a regret in later life.

Guitar Lessons

A few years ago, a friend convinced me that he could teach me to play the guitar and so I decided to give it another go. He taught me enough to get started and then moved away. So I then started looking for other sources of support. Going to a tutor for a half hour session once a week didn’t really cut it – partly because I didn’t know what I really wanted to play (that was within my reach). The internet was better and I worked my way through Justin Sandercoe’s (www.justinguitar.com) beginners course. This was a good mix of skills, structure and appropriate songs.

Gigajam Online Music School

Towards the end of that programme, I discovered Gigajam (www.gigajmonline.com) and am now learning to play guitar with Gigajam online as a Lifetime Member.  Grades 1 & 2 were straightforward by this time, but Grade 3 was a good match with the higher levels of the justinguitar.com course. I found that there was a big benefit in being taught many of the same skills and techniques in two slightly different ways beneficial.

My Grade 3 certificate has pride of place on the wall in my study – it is an actual music qualification and a real sign of achievement. I was very pleased when I completed that course – but daunted by what was going to be required in Grade 4!

Lessons and Music Grades

Now, a couple of years later – after a couple of pauses in my playing – I am in the middle of the Grade 4 lessons. This is very different from my Grade 3 experience because before, I had a handle on many of the skills & techniques required – now I am learning with each Gigajam lesson and exercise. Progress is slower – but now I am  learning to play guitar with Gigajam, in some ways, it is more satisfying because it is hard won. (Playing the guitar is hard!)

So, what do I get out of Gigajam?





Progress and Roadmaps

First and foremost, a structure or a roadmap. When I get my Grade 4, I will be very happy – to have the qualification but more importantly to have a set of skills that I can see will let me play more songs. I view the lessons and exercises as a measure of progress.



Gigajam provides the support that keeps me moving forward:

  • The videos show me what I should be doing;
  • The Xtractor player provides a backing to keep me in time as if with other musicians – being able to change the tempo and to loop playback helps with practice;
  • Having to video myself playing is instructive and I’m trying to teach myself to listen to what I’ve been playing (do the chords ring out? Am I in time?);
  • Above all, the feedback provided is invaluable – both encouragement and (especially) criticism. Combined with the ability to resubmit exercises and interact with the tutor.

Click to enlarge

While I am learning to play the guitar with Gigajam, I can see the progress I am making. Every exercise completed is one less to do. At the minute, I am probably focusing  on the Gigajam exercises. I am practising almost every day but my focus is on the skill needed to complete the next set of exercises. I expect that when I complete Grade 4, I’ll want a break – if only, to use my new skills on some new songs. What I really ought to do is find some other musicians and play with them but we now split our time between the UK and Spain so it is tricky to commit the time required.

Brian Greene, CEO of Gigajam said ” Dave has been very generous in taking time to share his story with us. He is a Lifetime Member of Gigajam and since he shared this story with us he is about to be awarded his Grade 4 Guitar in Music Performance from the University of West London. Dave completed all 94 exercises in debut to grade 3 and received a distinction level. He is just about to complete his review of the 78 exercises in grade 4.

Dave has used our Youtube video recording and marking facility, so Gigajam tutors watch his video via his e-Portfolio on gigajamonline, provide a feedback and a score based on UWL marking criteria.

If you have enjoyed reading Dave’s story, and are interested in learning to play the guitar with Gigajam then please do get in touch. 

Gigajam Online Music School has guitar lessons, bass lessons, keyboard lessons and drum lessons. www.gigajamonline.com


Gigajam in Action – The Island Free School

The Island Free School is an exciting new secondary school for the Isle of Wight, which was set up by highly experienced teachers, parents and members of the local business community. It is a smaller, more intimate school than the others on the Island, with an excellent staff to pupil ratio.

Island Free School

Indra Riches, Head of Music introduced Gigajam to The Island Free School in 2014.

Indra Riches - The Island Free School


David Smith, Music Teacher has been leading on Gigajam this last year and he kindly agreed to share his experience, use of Gigajam, thoughts and observations.

David Smith - The Island Free School

What is the context in which your school operates and why did you feel the need for something like Gigajam?

As a music specialist school we have lots of music lessons on our timetable and our headmaster realises the connection between learning an instrument and the impact on academic improvement in other subjects. Our school is keen for all students to study a musical instrument and Gigajam is used to further engage those who are not so keen on classical based instruments.

Why did you choose to use Gigajam?

Gigajam is the only product on the market of its kind that offers the self-study opportunities for students via an online portal. The exercises and pieces in Gigajam can be learnt on the four different instruments which creates opportunities for students to form ensemble groups with ready made material.

The Island Free School Gigajam Studio 2

How long have you been using Gigajam?

We have been using Gigajam since the Island Free School opened in September 2014.

Can you describe your approach to using Gigajam

We use Gigajam during timetabled lessons and each class receives a half hour Gigajam lesson per week. We also offer Gigajam as an enrichment activity. Our students love the leader board scoring system and they are keen to be on top of the weekly and monthly charts (we’re slowly moving up the all time leader board which is great!).

Which groups of students did you select?

All students receive a half an hour timetabled lesson each week in our Gigajam studio. If students wish to do extra Gigajam they can use one hour a week from their enrichment timetable to do so.

Is Gigajam used from home?

Yes, so Gigajam is used widely in school lessons, during our enrichment hour and students can also access their account from home if they have a computer. Some students upload from home and others practise the exercises/pieces at home and then record their upload when they are back in school.

Island Free School

What technical resources do you have and how available are they to you and your students?

We have 25 students in each class and our music class is kitted out with enough keyboards for one between two. Our Gigajam studio has 11 Keyboards, 9 guitars and 5 drum kits. Students can access this equipment before the school day and during their free time.


The Island Free School Gigajam Studio

What observations and thoughts of learners and teachers around the department/schools could you share?

The general consensus is that Gigajam is developing at a fast rate in our school, we have a number of students who have achieved one instrumental grade whilst others have achieved more than one grade in a range of different instruments since using the software. Staff are also encouraged to take part and use Gigajam when they are able to.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plan is to continue to use Gigajam with KS3 and as we start teaching KS4 in the next year we would like to use Gigajam to support those students who may need to boost their keyboard (or guitar, bass & drums) skills through the variety of exercises and pieces that Gigajam has to offer. We are waiting to move into our brand new purpose built school which will feature a purpose built Gigajam studio complete with practice rooms.


Always wanted to go to music school? Now you can!

Welcome to a Music School where you learn to play guitar, bass, keyboard and drums all online.


Gigajam online is packed with: TV Shows, Videos, Lessons and Play along exercises.
You can learn online, in your own place, in your own time. So, if you’ve always wanted to go to music school – now you can. Choose your instruments and try your free lessons.


Sign up for free at Gigajam


Why did we start Gigajam?

In this extract from a recent interview with CEO & Founder Brian Greene, he briefly explains why he started Gigajam and was so focused on music in classrooms in the UK.

“I wanted to provide more opportunities for people to learn a musical instrument.”

Gigajam is available in 6 of the 13 Regional Broadband Consortia around the UK including:

  1. London Grid for Learning,
  2. South West Grid for Learning,
  3. E2BN,
  4. WMNet,
  5. Northern Grid and
  6. Scotlands Schools Digital Network – Glow.

Individual Local Authorities also use Gigajam across their schools, and some of these include: The Highland Council, Blackburn with Darwen and Luton MBC. Over 1,000 UK schools use Gigajam on a daily basis through their own licence arrangements.

Our Online Music School for Schools is found at http://gigajamvle.com

For more information about Gigajam and schools, visit  http://education.gigajam.com


Spring Pricing 2016 for Gigajam


New pricing details are available now for Gigajam home users.

Before the increase in price to new users comes into effect we are extending our offer to existing registered users for a couple more days whilst the changes are implemented.

The new pricing will be live in a few days, so we are keeping our offer to existing registered users open for a couple of further days. The offer is a Lifetime Membership at just £39.99!

Spring Prices

The new pricing will offer subscriptions at £5.99 per month or £59 per year per instrument for: Guitar, Bass, Keyboard OR Drums

The new Lifetime Membership will be £79 single one off fee per instrument.

For unlimited access to all instruments the subscriptions are £9.99 per month and £99 per year, with a Lifetime Membership offer £249 for: Guitar, Bass, Keyboard AND Drums

Full offer details are here Gigajam Lifetime Offer:


Get Gigajam before spring price increase – £39.99 lifetime membership

We’re going to be changing our subscription and membership pricing for new customers this spring. The good news, to thank existing customers for their support, is that your prices are fixed forever if you maintain your ongoing subscription.

If you aren’t already a subscriber then good news for you too, in that we’re keeping our current £39.99 lifetime offer open until midnight Monday.

So until then for a £39.99 one off payment you can have access to all 144 lessons, tutor support, video uploads, MIDI uploads, the whole kit and kaboodle. For. Ever.Gigajam Lifetime

Simply visit http://gigajamonline.com/lifetime to catch this price while you can.


New Year Resolution -Learn to play?


Learning to play an instrument is one of the coolest things you’ll ever do. Whether you’re just starting out in school, decided you wanted to play in a band, or have decided to learn to play music now that the kids have grown, it’s a fun and rewarding thing to do.


But there are challenges to learning a musical instrument which include:

1. Time – travelling to lessons, fitting in with your busy schedule and making time to practice in between lessons.

2. Money- lessons are typically around £35 an hour and so a weekly lesson may well cost £140 per month.

3. Flexibility – finding a good teacher can be a job in itself, but when you do, how flexible can they reasonably be with all your other commitments.

Many people can handle these issues and have great lessons and a fabulous experience with their teacher – we absolutely recommend it. However, learning online, when you find a great resource can be both a great substitute, replacement and addition to face to face lessons.

Gigajam’s Online Music School addresses many of these challenges.

6 steps to learning with Gigajam

1. You can login and learn anytime, anywhere and for a length of time that suits you. No travel time at all.

2. At £4.99 per month as the standard price, Gigajam provides enormous value for all budgets, giving learners access to the Essential Skills Courses for all four instruments: guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. There are other options as well including yearly subscriptions and Lifetime Memberships. www.gigajamonline.com/subscribe

3. Gigajam is the ultimate flexible way to learn an instrument. Online through a browser you can learn when you want, practice when you want and take music grades when you want. Gigajam is open 24/7, 365 days of the year through Desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile.

You can be assured of Gigajam’s quality, award winning service with music grades provided in partnership with the University of West London/London College of Music.

If you want a deal to help you get started with your new years resolution then feel free to accept our newyearsresolution voucher GJ3PPM reducing our standard monthly subscription to £3 per month and yearly subscription to £30. For those of you that want a single payment and never again then visit www.gigajamonline.com/lifetime to get a time limited Lifetime Membership for just £39.99!




Case Study: The Arc School

Gigajam at The Arc School

Patrick Jackson is the Head of Music at The Arc School in Nuneaton. The school is an Independent Special School and have been clients of Gigajam since September 2011. It is rated as a good school by Ofsted and this term they are entering their fifth successful year using Gigajam.

Patrick kindly agreed to share his experience of Gigajam and this The Arc School’s story.

About The Arc School

Arc School Church End is an Independent day school based on in rural Warwickshire catering for children and young people who have struggled in mainstream education environments and whose needs were unmet in those settings.

 What problem(s) were you trying to solve?

In an effort to raise pupil attainment across the board, from those who struggle with musical concepts through to gifted and talented pupils, Gigajam was engaged to enable individual access to music as well as being used at a class level.

How did you implement Gigajam

Gigajam was implemented for Year 8s and 9s primarily but has now filtered down to the Year 7s and up to Key Stage 4. The competitive nature of the pupils, coupled with the instant scoring means that while some have little difficulty progressing through the lessons, others will attempt to beat previous scores until they have achieved as high as they feel they can.

6 Steps image

 What specifically attracted you to Gigajam as a solution

The instant scoring of the lessons and the fact the scoring is computerised rather than opinion based means my pupils have no difficulty accepting the score given to them. This in turn makes them more willing to analyse where they went wrong and to learn from their mistakes to attempt to gain a higher pass rate. This also makes progress for each pupil relatively easy to evidence.Analysing

How easy was it to deploy Gigajam in your department?

Deploying Gigajam was straightforward. The software is very accessible so once the pupils have their own login details, the teacher then becomes a facilitator to learning.

How have you been able to measure impact?

The instant scores that the pupils get are saved into the pupils’ own folder and so even multiple attempts at an exercise shows progress. The final score they choose to upload to the Gigajam system is kept on a visual tracker designed to show the pupils how many exercises they have achieved and how many are left until they get to the exam stages. Each pupil will have a personal tracker in the cover of their exercise books also. Currently, the impact is measured in the amount of pupils taking and passing the graded exams offered through Gigajam.


How have pupils responded to the use of Gigajam?

On the whole, pupils have responded very positively. This generation of pupils are especially computer literate, so the whole Gigajam setup quickly becomes second-nature to them.

Once they see themselves achieving and understanding that this is something that is within their abilities, they generally request more Gigajam time.

What impact has Gigajam had on your approach to teaching?

Gigajam’s main impacts on the pupils’ teaching and learning are the transferable skills that carry over to the main curriculum. Many pupils ability to access music is enhanced through having a better understanding of the building blocks of western music, i.e. chords and scales. As such, Music becomes less intimidating and more enjoyable.

How do you see Gigajam being used to develop your department?

I would like to see as many of my pupils as possible leave school with the highest grades they can achieve in whichever instrument they choose to pursue.

Have there been any unexpected results from using Gigajam?

There have been examples of pupils who have had no prior experiences with music as well as those who had previously struggled with music having their appetite for music increased due to the competitiveness of attempting to beat their own scores.  These are the small steps that lead to the pupils gaining their Debut Grade qualification. This then feeds the success cycle of opening the horizon to further and more challenging graded qualifications.

For more information about Gigajam, then please do not hesitate to contact us:

Brian Greene:


01494 534880

07976 208859

Our education websites are:



The Mix Luton Music Hub – Gigajam in Action

Gigajam and The MIX – Luton Music Service

The Mix Luton is the Music Education Hub for Luton, led by Luton Music Service. It is a group of schools and music organisations who are working together to provide the best possible music-making opportunities for children and young people in the Luton area.

Gigajam was introduced in September 2014 and is available to all schools in Luton via the Online Music School.  The music school is accessible to all pupils in school and from home via the web. It forms a part of the Music Services’ delivery of its core role as a music hub which is to provide quality first access opportunities.

The Mix have initially supported a base at Sundon Park Junior School where it used as part of the curriculum for music at KS2, ensemble opportunities and enrichment.

Hub-Showcase-2014-50-150x150As part of our continued series of case studies, focusing on how our education clients use Gigajam, we spent the afternoon with Phil Knight, Music Service lead for Gigajam in Luton and discussed with him his experience of facilitating and teaching. We have also participated in delivery discussions with senior leaders from The Hub in partner meetings and at conference.


What problems were The Mix trying to solve?

As part of the Core Role of a music hub The Mix are focused on developing and delivering outstanding first access programmes to pupils in Luton Schools. It was identified that the programmes of first access needed to be broadened and diversified to increase the range of styles and genres available in programmes. One genre to be added was Rock and Pop and there was a need to increase use of technology and music technology.

How have you implemented Gigajam so far for Luton? 

Gigajam is available to all Luton schools via the Online Music School, but we have been working with Sundon Park Junior School to provide a starting base. The school has a space for music learning which has access to computers and good internet access. The MIX have provided some instruments to support the programme, together with a lead facilitator to support the teachers and teaching assistants.

Gigajam provided training to the Music Service and Phil Knight, a guitarist with the Music Service leads and delivers Gigajam at the school.

The programme is for a full academic year and is for all year 5 and year 6 pupils. Currently this numbers 167 pupils and they all receive a 30 minute lesson every week where they come to the music learning base.

Pupils can learn the guitar, bass, keyboards and drums and have selected instruments that suit them by having the chance to switch.


Pupils are actively supported by Phil as they come each week and develop their skills. They follow the lessons, and upload their performances of the exercises in the courses to their portfolios held in the Online Music School. They know where they are up to and how well they are doing and can pick up straight away from the previous lesson.

The lessons are highly practical so pupils are playing all lesson.

Phil has arranged a couple of concerts and pupils have worked on tunes he has organised, as well as performed the graded pieces from the Gigajam course.

What specifically attracted you to Gigajam as a solution?

Being able to provide access to all pupils across a region in the traditional manner is unaffordable and, if it there was the money available there would not be enough teachers to deliver, so we needed scalable, sustainable solutions for mass education models.

Gigajam’s use of standard web technologies makes it easy to deploy and see the pupil’s progress – not only essential for providing good continual and formative assessment for pupils, but also for reporting back to the Arts Council. We can show each pupils progress and work instantly, as it is all held on the Music School.


How easy was it to deploy Gigajam in your department?

It is always daunting using technology so heavily and we did have specific difficulties with the guitars with the younger pupils in terms of size. They were constantly pulling cables out of the computers when handling the guitars, but that has settled down and a good set up has been developed.

More pupils are using keyboards and drums, which work very well with this age group and we have found them easier instruments for pupils to start on. However, after delivering the first few lessons we have settled into a good pattern and mostly the pupils simply come in and get on with the lessons. In a class there are pupils learning guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.

It did become apparent that having the instruments out was key as this saved time at the beginning of each session so that pupils could get straight on with the learning. These are active lessons, so the activity needs to start straightaway to maximise the time available.

How have you been able to measure impact?

Measuring impact is both obvious from the activity in each lesson, with the pupils working considerably harder than in a more didactic teacher led session. You only have to walk into the room to see the learning going on – pupils are working hard on their own, together with peers, on task, in a group. Harder measures are also a major part of the Gigajam system with pupils encouraged to record and upload every attempted exercise so they can see their progress at each step of the course.

How have pupils responded to the use of Gigajam?

Overall our pupils have responded very well to Gigajam. We have 51 pupils who are scoring at above the pass rate for graded examinations and 61 pupils who have made significant progress through the course already. Currently, this year’s 167 pupils have uploaded just under 9,000 exercises, which is a huge amount of recorded hard work.. Constant and continual feedback helps pupils’ understanding of how they are doing and what they need to do to improve so they feel well supported in their learning and can see exactly how they are progressing.

What impact has Gigajam had on your approach to teaching?

It is very different – there is much more support work, than traditional delivery, sometimes the support is with the computers when they misbehave, as we all know that happens, but also in supporting the learner get on with their learning on their own – the pupils want and need to be active with Gigajam – it is almost entirely in the doing and that means I (Phil) have to move around the class helping pupils when they have a problem. The thing is you can see pupils making progress – whole class on a single instrument is much slower progress overall and it is harder to see who is progressing as they should. It is of course just different, but pupils who can develop the ability to work independently make much more progress and that is one of the big bonuses of Gigajam. It definitely puts the ownership of learning onto the pupil, and I am more able to spend more time with those that need my support.


How do you see Gigajam being used to develop next year?

We will change some of the set up, building on the experiences gleaned this year and of course we will then have our year 6 pupils who will be on their second year of Gigajam, so that will mean we have advancing players benefiting from a sustained duration of instrumental tuition. This should feed well into even better performances and open up access to new routes of progression. It will also be very easy to spot genuine talent.

Some of the pupils will also be able to complete the grades, as they have built up their portfolios, so we should see a good clutch of pupils at year 6 with debut and grade one music exams simply by working every week with Gigajam.

Have there been any unexpected results from using Gigajam?

It has been surprising how much progress some of the pupils can make. Pupils can work at their own pace in a group and some are already at grade 1 level even though they are in the lower year 5. It very much feels that learning is at stage rather than age in this environment.

For more information on Gigajam, please visit:



or contact Brian Greene


T: 01494 534880

M: 07976 208859