Tag Archives: learn to play keyboards

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.


Music Grades for Schools

This morning we received our largest bag full of certificates from our partnership with the University of West London/London College of Music.

Students from: Witton Park Academy, Blackburn, The Island Free School, Isle of Wight, Arc School, Nuneaton and West Byfleet Junior School Surrey will soon receive these certificates proving their success in learning a musical instrument.

UWLLCM CertificatesCongratulations to all those successful candidates and their teachers who have made learning an instrument possible.

You can read and watch video from case studies from Witton Park Academy and The Island Free School.



BBC Get Playing Campaign

The BBC have launched the fabulous campaign Get Playing which aims to inspire amateur musicians across the UK and bring them together in a celebration like you’ve never seen before.

They have produced a website for the campaign and are encouraging participation in their terrifically fun Virtual Orchestra project which is fronted by David Baddiel.

Join David Baddiel, learn Bizet’s Toreador Song and play in the Virtual Orchestra.

The BBC say that Whether you currently play an instrument, or haven’t played for years, we want you to get involved and experience the joy of music making

At Gigajam we are pleased to support the campaign and like the BBC we believe that playing music is life-enhancing, community building, and above all, fun.

Gigajam is already linked out from the BBC so please feel free to grab 3 months of free lessons with us. You can learn guitar, bass, keyboard and drums – all four if you want. Our lessons are backed with music grades from the University of West London and London College of Music so you have quality guaranteed.

Just visit here to register freely and start learning today.

Find out more about Get Playing with the BBC here

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


Music Grade Success!

It is great when the postman arrives and delivers these.

Music Grades

So today we have a desk of joy for our students taking their drum lessons in High Wycombe with me and, there are also a few for students of the Online Music School who have been studying on their own and a some who have earned these awards through their school using our education site.

All of these music grades have been awarded by The University of West London London College of Music.

Congratulations to them all on their hard work and success!

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


Gigajam to exhibit at Music Show and Music Mark National Conference

Gigajam will be appearing at the The Music Show in Manchester Central in November (Friday and Saturday 15th and 16th).

Brian Greene said, ” The co-locating of the Music Mark Annual Conference with The  Music Show gives us a great opportunity to meet and exhibit to the general public, as well as maintain our contact with those directly involved in the formal music education sector nationally. We believe that we have a compelling offer for Music Hubs  http://hubs.gigajam.com which supports them meet the Core Roles of the National Plan for Music Education, as well as for the home learner looking for an affordable flexible way off learning to play, www.gigajamonline.com

Anytime, anywhere

Gigajam will be demonstrating the online music school service to both education (http://gigajamvle.com) and to home users (www.gigajamonline.com) and provide hands-on opportunities for visitors to play and experience the use of our interactive lesson content and software.

Lessons Cycler

You can see Gigajam’s 6 steps to learning an instrument here: http://schools.gigajam.com/6steps.aspx

YouTube Video

New developments will be on show, including the recently launched iBook for iPad (free on iPad) and eBook technologies.for other platforms.

Gigajam iBook

Brian and the team will be on stand F 21 in the main hall throughout the two days.

For more information contact:

Brian Greene

e: brian.greene@gigajam.com

t: 01494 534880

m: 07976 208859

Gigajam’s 6 Simple Steps to Learning an Instrument

Step1 – Follow the interactive lessons

Step2 – Practice and develop skills with interactive play along software

Step3 – Record & Analyse your performance

Step4 – Recorded performances can be stored online in your ePortfolio

Step5 – Performances stored online can contribute to accreditation

Step6 – Perform live in a band


Step1 – Follow the interactive lessons 

Multimedia rich guitar, bass, keyboard & drum lessons


Detailed narrated lessons, instructional videos & graphics.

Students login to Gigajam VLE and select the instrument they wish to study. They choose their lesson and follow the on screen instructions. These are made up of narrated lesson notes, how to videos, TV shows, printable notes and graphics.

Watch students in action


Step2 – Practice and develop skills with interactive play along software

The first level of interactivity is playing & practising exercises with interactive software



GigajamXtractor is a powerful MIDI player/recorder

Students can practise their exercises along with the GigajamXtractor Player. They can alter the tempo of the backing track and change the mix of the instruments. They can also mute the instrument guide track and play on their own with the backing band.

 Watch students in action

Step3 – Recording and Analysing performances

The second level of interactivity allows students to have their performances analysed.



Simple MIDI instruments can be connected to Xtractor and performances recorded

If students have access to a MIDI instrument they can record their performance of an exercise and listen to how well they have played. They can then chose to Analyse the performance, using the GigajamAnalyser and see how their performance compared with the original exercise file. The Analyser provides note for note analysis, statistics on notes played, as well as an overall grade in percentage terms.

See Analysis example here

Students can repeat this as much as they like to develop their playing of the exercise.


Step4 – Recorded performances can be stored online to create an ePortfolio

All students have a locker where they can upload all their performances.



Once happy, students can save and upload their perfromance to their online Locker (ePortfolio) where they can store all of their work. Students can view all their stored work, comment on their performances, link to videos and audio files of performances and make and receive comments.


Step5 – Performances stored online can contribute to accreditation.

All students have a locker where they can upload all their performances.

Each exercise uploaded adds to the completion of the course and students can see at a glance how they are developing. Certificates are automatically produced upon completion of lessons and grades.


NB: – Students can follow the programme of study for a Level One Arts Award and Gigajam are working with the London College of Music to provide a university accredited Performance Award in Schools Music, leading to a Level 2 certificate (equivalent to GCSE).


Step6 – Performing live in a band

There are songs available for students to play as they pogress through the course.



Students can play the vamps and songs available through the course, which build directly on the skills they have learned. All the parts for the songs are written so that students can form bands together and if there are missing band members students can use Xtractor to play along with, simply replacing the missing band members.

Studio recorded versions of the songs are available as well, which can be played using Gigajam’s Webplayer (link to grade 3 tracks).


More Band Tracks

This is how students will sound

Here are some more band tracks available from Gigajam:

Torture | Berlin Wall | Darkened Streets | Who Says It’s Raining


More about Gigajam


Gigajam provides high quality instrument learning in guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and music theory. It uses the internet so that pupils can interact live with digital technology in the classroom, and then carry on learning outside or in their homes.

When it comes to progression, the beauty of Gigajam is that pupils constantly assess their progress as they learn. Teachers can immediately see how they are doing and give them feedback. Learning is accelerated and measuring attainment is quick and effective. Pupils of all backgrounds and abilities are motivated. They can work individually or in groups, and they can perform solo or in bands from Day 1.


For more information on Gigajam, please feel free to contact:

Brian Greene

T: 01494 534880 | M: 07976 208859 | E; brian.greene@gigajam.com