Learning to Play Guitar with Gigajam

By Dave Hornsey

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

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