My First Experience of Music School Part 1

I studied professional music performance at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) In Surrey, England back in 2014. 

I was 18 years old with a head full of dreams and a heart full of passion, hoping that one day I would work as a professional musician in one of the toughest industries there are. 

Which has been getting tougher ever since 2020!! But I still have high hopes for the future. 

I was a fairly good guitarist, mainly playing in rock and blues cover bands around my local town, staying very much in my comfort zone. When I auditioned for my place at ACM, I was confident since the piece was a rock/blues guitar solo with techniques that I was very familiar with. 

The audition

There was also an improvisational part of the audition which was based around the pentatonic minor scale, so no issues there. My first experience of music school was actually at a house party that myself and my housemates threw, long before any classes had begun. We invited a lot of people who were due to start the course the same year that we did, and I was instantly feeling ashamed of my own ability. 

We were jamming, and the level of musicianship that some players were showing was way beyond anything that I was familiar with. This one guy, who was also a guitarist started playing ‘Waves’ by Guthrie Govan, which if you don’t know is an extremely complex guitar composition. 

There I was recycling old blues riffs and relying on the pentatonic minor scale to get me through, I was definitely feeling anxious for my first class. 

The Jamming experience

Having had the jamming experience go less than ideally. It didn’t dampen my enthusiasm though, and I was ready to get learning. 

So, the first day of class arrived and it was a lesson called ‘professional musicianship’, which was basically just a group guitar lesson where we go over different techniques and have the chance to perform them. I was sat there like everyone else with my guitar and my music stand, attempting to comprehend what the tutor was talking about whilst staring blankly at a sheet of music. 

My skills were brutally exposed when I got up to perform for the first time, barely being able to keep up with the level of ability that everyone else in the class was displaying. At that point, I knew that if I wanted to pass this course, I’m going to have to practice, and I mean practice a lot. 

I think having that first few brutal experience actually just drove to get better quicker!

Read Part 2 to find out what happens next in my journey in a music school.

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