Whether you’re a student, teacher, or simply someone looking for something fun to do in their spare time; we love to hear from anyone who interacts with our material to grow, learn or inspire others.
What started as a simple questionnaire quickly became a really insightful exercise into the influence that the Rockschool brand has had in homes, schools and teaching hubs around the world.
What this has become is: Rockschool Stories.
For our first instalment, we spoke to 9 Track Music’s Jack Chapman. Based in Sheffield, Jack uses a myriad of Rockschool resources as a learning platform for each of the students who come to Jack to excel on the guitar.
How long have you been using Rockschool, and why has it worked for you?
I have been using Rockschool material since around 2010 – taking my first personal exam (Grade 6) in 2012. Since that time I have grown my tuition business, teaching many different students across a variety of ages and abilities, each at some point interacting with Rockschool material.
Usually this begins when myself or the student feels they are ready to benchmark their current progress and have a widely recognised achievement to their name. At other times RSL material has simply been a reference for playing recognisable songs that will kick-start tuition with a new student or bring them closer to eventually taking a grade exam. Overall it has provided me with a vital thread of continuous and consistent catalogue from which to shape the progression and development of my guitar students.
What’s your favourite performance piece to teach, and how does it improve your learners?
This has to be Sunshine of your Love from Grade 1. Most of my students have at some point played material from the Grade 1 & 2 books; this song in particular has a very recognisable riff and is often the first time a beginner student manages to string a complete (if brief) song together for the first time. This can be a turning point in their development and confidence. It also solidifies Rockschool material, and sheet music in a broader sense, as something not to be afraid of – but something fun, engaging and worth practising to improve their skills and understanding of guitar. Special mention also goes to the Let’s Rock book, which my 7-11 year olds in particular really love to work through.
What’s your favourite test to teach, and why is it important for your learners?
The Grades 6-8 Quick Study Pieces are, for my more experienced students, a bite-size opportunity to move outside of their comfort zone to discover different genres and new styles of playing that they may not have experienced much in the past. It is very interesting to hear how accomplished their playing with familiar genres can sound in comparison to lesser played styles. This can be a humbling moment for us both and a reminder that while the student may be in the intermediate stages of their playing, there is still much to learn. This usually opens new doors for us in terms of performance technique, and analysing particular famous guitarists with stylistic techniques in mind.
As an aside, these exercises also keep me on my toes, having to demonstrate such short snippets of very specific stylistic play and convey this fluidly can sometimes be a challenge!
What’s your favourite learner success story?
Several of my students have played their Rockschool favourites as GCSE performance pieces, with a couple of these achieving perfect marks in their assessments! It is thoroughly rewarding for both myself and my students when our work benefits their wider education too.
What musicians inspired you to start playing, and why?
Being from Sheffield, UK, I have the Sheffield music heritage to thank with bands like Arctic Monkeys first hitting the charts when I began playing and jamming around age 13, a historic band with a major influence on a generation of younger players.
My parents also introduced me to Country music at an early age, and I spent a great deal of time following the guitar playing of Keith Urban and writing my own music in the same vein. Blues and Rock too have always been at the core of my own style, eventually bringing me on to hearing John Mayer and finally seeing him in concert in 2017. Witnessing that sort of inspiration live after many years is the kind of moment you don’t forget!
Find out more about Jack here...
Find out more about 9 Track Music here...