Tag Archives: London College of Music Examinations

Gigajam in Action Witton Park Academy Blackburn

Ethan Whittaker is the subject leader for music at Witton Park Academy an average sized secondary school in Blackburn with just under 1,000 students. He is also the Secondary representative for the Blackburn with Darwen Music Hub.

Ethan Whittaker

Blackburn with Darwen Music Hub has a partnership agreement with Gigajam,  which provides the opportunity for every child in Blackburn with Darwen to have access FREE either through school, through a community organisation or independently. The current licence runs until April 2018 and Witton Park Academy is the lead school.

Ethan kindly shared his experience, thoughts and use of Gigajam by making this short video.

We have been using Gigajam at Witton Park Academy since September 2015. Since then we have seen greater participation in music in extra curriculum activities and in the classroom.


We mainly use Gigajam in Key Stage 3 in years 7, 8 and 9 and use it for the performance side. Gigajam has enabled our kids to see where they are at in real time. They have been able to make progress and reflect on what they have done to be able to improve.


Pupils work on the keyboard towards their debut grade exam. They upload their work and reflect and improve it after analysing. This gives them something to work towards that includes an achievable target for the end of year.

We have also found that pupils who use Gigajam become more musically aware, being able to adapt to different scenarios and situations.


Gigajam is also used for intervention, especially for pupils who find concentrating difficult or who may suffer from behavioural issues. Gigajam gives them a clear focus and something to work towards.These pupils often channel their energy into improving and to become better musicians and individuals which helps them progress and integrate more into the school.


In our video we have a year 7 class using Gigajam and I see my role, while the pupils are using Gigajam is to make sure they are using correct instrumental technique and make sure they are doing everything to the best of their ability, by helping them analyse what they have done and how they can improve.


We have found that pupils are working better together using Gigajam – communicating and being really supportive of each other. They are helping each other analyse their work, and helping each other in counting the beats and when to play the notes, as well as reminding to use the correct instrumental technique which is really rewarding to see when I am walking round the classroom.


Pupils work really hard to get the best possible mark, with the grading system encouraging students to get above 65% is really useful. Pupils do see this as an internal competition trying to beat the pupils immediately around them and others in the class.



Not having paper, is so much more efficient, all the information from all the exercises are all in one place. The pupils can upload all their exercises up to Gigajam – it is all there, so it makes it simple for everybody.


This is the first year of using Gigajam at Witton Park Academy and it is going really, really well, with the pupils responding to it very positively and I couldn’t ask for much more.


If you would like more information about our use of Gigajam at Witton Park then please do not hesitate to email me: ewhittaker@wittonpark.org.uk

Download the case study as a Free eBook now

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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

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 Rock Orchestra Launched

Introducing Gigajam Rock Orchestra

Rock Orchestra

Whilst Gigajam’s Essential Skills courses focus on teaching individuals to play rock and pop instruments, we appreciate that many pupils play other, more traditional instruments in school ensembles. For Gigajam, creating musicians is not just about creating rock musicians, playing in rock bands. It is about providing opportunities for a wider engagement in music of different genres, styles and contexts.

We have designed the Gigajam Rock Orchestra to help teachers incorporate the live performance of the rock band, into the wider setting of a Rock Orchestra. This provides an exciting opportunity for instrumentalists in school orchestras to play along with their rock band peers.The arrangements are written so that a typical school orchestra can perform the five pieces taken from the Gigajam Level One Songbook. Each piece has a full conductor’s score arranged in five orchestral parts, plus charts for the guitar, bass, keyboard and drums.

Rock Orchestra 2

The individual orchestral parts can be assigned to different instruments and the appropriate charts printed off in the correct keys. Gigajam Rock Orchestra also includes mp3 audio files with mixes including: band and orchestra, orchestra only, band only, and various minus-one mixes. This enables the different ensembles and individual parts to be practised by students with great sounding accompaniment.

All six rock orchestra pieces are now available on gigajamvle.com and you can try Ode To Joy freely.

Rock Orchestra 3


Rock and Pop Grades from Gigajam

The School Music Performance Award, Rock and Pop exam grades debut, grade 1-5 are now live.

The qualification is awarded by University of West London/London College of Music Examinations and schools can now enter candidates automatically online when the student is ready to receive their award.


When a student has completed the required elements of the award: technical exercises, graded pieces, and knowledge and understanding questions, these will be evidenced in the students portfolio. Teachers simply need to verify the integrity of the portfolio for the specific grade and this will then automatically confirm that the student can now be entered for their award.

Progress through qualification


Once the teacher has verified the portfolio, they will be able to enter the candidate via the Staff Room. All students eligible for entering for their award(s) are listed.

Enter Candidates - Staff Room

To ensure the school receives the credits for the award please add the learners unique learner number and your National Centre Number.

The award is confirmed by London College of Music Examinations and the certificate sent to the school (exam centre).

Examination Costs

The School Music Performance Awards table is below showing fees, points and Ofqual qualification details. The qualifications are inexpensive and offer a great opportunity for learners to be accredited for their hard work.


Entry Level
Grade 1
Level 1
Grade 2
Level 1
Grade 3
Level 1
Grade 4
Level 2
Grade 5
Level 2


School Music Performance Awards:

guitar, bass, keyboards and drums

Students in schools can learn and receive awards by using Gigajam VLE http://gigajamvle.com.

Learners studying independently should use Gigajam Online http://gigajamonline.com and their work will be verified by Gigajam teachers. Some video evidence and proof of identity will be required when not enrolled with an educational establishment.

Further details of the School Music Performance Awards, together with a downloadable syllabus are available from here: http://schools.gigajam.com/Qualifications.aspx

If you require any help at all then please just contact us:

Brian Greene, Director e: brian.greene@gigajam.com t: 01494 534880


School Music Performance Awards

The University of West London/London College of Music Exams, in partnership with Gigajam, have launched the innovative School Music Performance Awards for guitar, bass, keyboard and drums.

Response to National Plan for Music was presented by Brian Greene

Response to National Plan for Music was presented by Brian Greene director of Gigajam

These new and innovative qualifications, regulated by Ofqual, have been created in direct response to the government’s National Plan for Music and are designed to enable more students, at school and at home, to learn to play a musical instrument and receive recognition for their progress.

The School Music Performance qualifications are suitable for beginners through to intermediate players through a series of graded exams. Debut to Grade 5 are available for guitar, bass, keyboard and drums.

Bob Chapman, Head of Music at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls showed Gigajam in action at his school and discussed the impact it has had on his department in terms of access to learning an instrument, progress and engagement.  Bob’s video is available, as well as the Case Study he presented.

Students learning using Gigajam simply complete the exercises in their chosen instrument and upload and store their performances in their e-Portfolio. They can do this using either the video capture or award winning Analyser software. At the end of each grade they then have five songs to perform and store, proving their skill and fluency in performing on their instrument. Their class teacher will then verify two specified exercises from the course, along with one song to confirm that the portfolio is consistent with the level the student is performing at.

Using technology to support teachers in the delivery of a progressive pathway of study, as well as provide meaningful assessment will enable more pupils to:

  • Receive instrumental instruction
  • Actively learn a musical instrument
  • Play together in bands and ensembles and
  • Receive formal recognition for their hard work


Available for download (PDF)

Available for download (PDF)

Download Syllabus PDF

Examination Costs

Gigajam’s online delivery and assessment allows us to keep the costs of examinations to an affordable level, both for schools and parents.

Gigajam Grade NQF Level QCF Credits Cost Ofqual Register
Debut Entry Level 4 £10 601/0304/8
Grade 1 Level 1 9 £11 601/0300/0
Grade 2 Level 1 12 £12 601/0302/4
Grade 3 Level 1 12 £13 601/0303/6
Grade 4 Level 2 15 £14 601/0359/0
Grade 5 Level 2 18 £15 601/0309/7

Gigajam Online Music School

Gigajam courses are just £1 per pupil per annum, minimum charge £150 per annum. Hub licences are negotiable on an individual basis to include all schools and educational establishments in a Music Education Hub, but based on 1.5% of Music Education Grant.

Contact us now to find out more about The University of West London/London College of Music and Gigajam. Call us on 01494 534880 or email any questions directly to Brian Greene.

Visit our Music Hub site to see how technology can help your hub reach more pupils in and out of school.