“The interactive learning method is highly engaging for pupils and they like the instant feedback from Gigajam’s Xtractor software. The quality of backing tracks and instructional videos is impressive”
David Burridge, Teacher Music Advisor

Gigajam in Kent

Background

As part of the Kent Wider Opportunities programme, the Music Advisory Team wanted to trial Gigajam to see if it was suitable to roll out. A pilot project was set up with targeted pupils at the Cheyne Middle School on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

Participants

An all ability group of 18 Year 5 pupils had two terms of lessons on guitars, keyboards, and drums.

Training in the use of the software was given during a one day session by Brian Greene, Gigajam for three members of staff:

  1. Drums - LEA Music Adviser
  2.  Guitar - Class Teacher with Guitar Skills
  3.  Keyboard - Music Services peripatetic teacher

Pupils were taught in pairs for 30 minutes by the three trained staff and pupils were expected to follow up the lesson with a timetabled individual practice session. 

Impacts and Outcomes

Learning was impressive over the two terms with pupils quick to engage with interactive and personalised learning style. After one term, pupils had made sufficient progress to form a Group capable of performing to the schools SMT. No pupils dropped out.

Teaching consisted of guiding pupils on the effective use of the software and setting realistic targets for pupils to achieve for the next lesson.

David Burridge, Teacher Music Advisor for Kent said: “Although learning outcomes were impressive for this group of pupils, this was achieved with an expensive resource of three adults to guide pupils on the three disciplines of guitar, keyboard and drums. The software is designed for pupils to be guided by one adult but targeted at older year groups than the Year 5 pupils involved in this pilot. The intensive support used was necessary for the Year 5’s involved in this project.

The music services teacher was initially sceptical about teaching the chord of “A” as a starting point for keyboard technique. However, when pupils of all abilities did conquer the initial exercises with confidence it was proved that the orthodox approach to teaching the keyboard is not the only way for pupils to learn effectively.

“The interactive learning method is highly engaging for pupils and they like the instant feedback from Gigajam’s Xtractor software. The quality of backing tracks and instructional videos is impressive,” continued David Burridge.

Future Developments

The group concluded that Gigajam software would be better suited to Year 7 upwards.

David Burridge said: “Gigajam software in secondary schools will bring considerable benefits for pupils learning the guitar, keyboards and drums, and could be a valuable resource for pupils who would have previously learned in an informal way.”