My First Experience of Music School Part 2

This is part 2 of my first journey of music school. If you haven’t read the first part yet, this might not make a lot of sense as we ended in a cliff hanger before!

The tutor was going over techniques used in jazz guitar, something I had never even considered being from a rock and blues background. If I remember rightly, we were exploring modal ideas and how to use them over certain chord changes. 

Modes? What are they?

I had never even heard of a mode, let alone extended chords, but I was too scared to ask the question and make a fool out of myself on the first day. It was clear that everyone else in the room was familiar with these techniques since I could hear them playing the parts with a degree of competence. 

This was a brutal first lesson and I walked away feeling very intimidated. I got home, made dinner and just locked myself in my room for the whole night. What I did was practice for hours, so that the next day I wouldn’t leave with the same disparaging feeling, and that I would hopefully be able to make a good impression on the tutor and my peers. 

As far as first days at music school go, I had a very bad experience. I didn’t give up though, so the morale is that no matter how difficult something is, if you have the desire to be successful then you will make it happen. 

Learning to play music

Learning to play music might not be easy. But it’s been a fulfilling experience. I would never change anything that’s happened previously, even though they were full of challenges.

I definitely think that no matter who you are you will be able to see the music if you work hard at it. It does help if you start when you’re younger however I’ve met even older people who have managed to learn to play the guitar and have it as a selling hobby that they have on the side. One of my friends actually bought a guitar for his son who never played it and he ended up picking up guitar lessons and now he has his own Instagram account of the following playing guitar. 

So anyone can get started and I urge you to pursue whatever your interest is. What are going through 2020 has really taught me is that you really need to go for the things that matter in your life because you might not get another chance. I’m really glad that I’ve pursued music so far and I can’t wait to see what it’s installed for me in the future.…

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.