The good news for those involved in music education in the UK is that Gigajam is back at the BETT Show, where its after-show parties – featuring the 'air guitar competition' – are now part of BETT legend. By Hugh John
Forget the Triffids – 2009 was the year that Gigajam, the BETT award-winning online music service made its play for world domination. At home it added Stoke and Bolton to its UK bases and then went global to provide innovative music education facilities through partnerships in Holland, Australia and Finland.
In the UK, Gigajam's Essential Skills Course was added to Bolton LA's learning platform, giving all the authority’s students the opportunity to learn guitar, bass, keyboard and drums – at school and at home. Smithhills Specialist Arts College is among the first of Bolton's education centres to roll out Gigajam and training began in summer 2009.
Gigajam was also included in the Stoke music service's dedicated technology suite, which was designed with the explicit aim of providing music tuition. Students will initially have access to Gigajam and the excellent O-Generator music software with other music applications added at a later date (you can find out more about O-Generator on the Sibelius Software stand, B49, at BETT 2010).
This year promises to be just as hectic. It will kick off with the launch of the Music Classroom of the Future which is a joint initiative between Gigajam and music industry giant Yamaha. The launch is at BETT 2010 and both companies, says Gigajam's managing director Brian Greene, share “a vision that all children can have the chance to experience learning a musical instrument over a sustained period".
We have been advocating, through the government’s Music Manifesto, that increasing participation requires a technological solution to support and enhance the existing methods of delivering musical instrument tuition. We believe that 100 per cent participation is possible with Gigajam and Yamaha – music instrument tuition through eLearning – and that the focus now needs to be turned towards young people in secondary education, ensuring that programmes are progressive, sustained and provide continual assessment.” (You can see how Gigajam has been successfully used to give music tuition to every key stage 3 pupil at Tiverton High School, in Devon, in this Futurelab article and in the YouTube video below.)
Sharing the stand at BETT 2010 will be Yamaha’s education manager Bill Martin and David Cooper of One Man Band, Gigajam’s Yamaha supplier. They will be joined by Ian Wright, head of music at Tiverton High school and Sean Ashmore, head of music at Pleckgate High school. Both schools are Gigajam Accredited Interactive Music Schools and Ian and Sean will be presenting their ideas on the use of technology in music education and suggesting ways in which it can increase student participation and involvement.
Visitors to the stand can expect some lively discussions and the usual well-informed, helpful and friendly advice from Gigajam staff. There will also be a chance to catch up on demonstrations of the new online service, GigajamVLE.
And finally, for those annual indefatigable BETT blaggers – you know who you are – there could even be the opportunity for a free plectrum or two!
January 13-16, Olympia, London
Gigajam/Yamaha – Stand V20
Sibelius Software (O-Generator) – Stand B49