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Since graduating from ACM’s Higher Diploma Guitar Course in 2003 Jonas Jalhay, has been propelled into the live music spotlight supporting the likes of rising star Rita Ora. Nearly ten years on since he left ACM, we caught up with Jonas to talk about his past, present and future as a session guitarist.

A bit about your background
I grew up in Belgium. My dad played guitar in all sorts of semi-pro bands ranging from jazz quartet to Abba tribute band. From the age of 8 or 9 I started going to a few rehearsals with him but I wasn’t so interested until about a year later when I discovered Kurt Cobain… I asked my dad for a guitar and I got a 335 copy with flat wounds strings at Christmas. Not quite the rock guitar I had in mind but it did the job. I was pretty rubbish at first and I remember struggling the first year. After that things got a bit easier, I discovered Hendrix, bought a strat and decided that I wanted to play guitar for a living.

What motivated you to come and study at ACM?
I was 17 at the time and I had just finished my A-levels. I was planning to go to the jazz conservatory in Brussels (only music school in Belgium at the time) but then a month before starting the course a friend of mine mentioned the ACM and the more pop-rock approach. Didn’t take long for me to change my mind and get a Eurostar to London.

What’s been the best part about studying at ACM?
The best thing was the great teachers I had, Guthrie was particularly inspiring. Made everything look so damn easy. I was also lucky to meet people that I’m still in touch today, some carried on with music, some have more regular jobs today but it’s nice to we still meet up every so often.

Tell us about who you’ve been working with?
In the last ten years I’ve worked with Lady Sovereign, Amy Studt, Taio Cruz, The Saturdays, Clare maguire, Jessie J, Tinchy Stryder, Pixie Lott, I blame coco and more recently Rita Ora.

What’s been your proudest moment/career highlights so far?
So many great moments… But playing in Belgium is always quite special for me, going back to venues I used to dream about playing as a kid.

So what’s on the horizon for 2013?
I start 2013 with Rita’s first UK headline tour in January and February, then in March we’re off to future music festival which moves us around Australia for a month.

Do you have any advice or tips for our current ACM students?
My advice to any current ACM Performance students would be to go to gigs, meet other musicians and never turn down work, you never know what might come out of it.

ACM would like to say a huge thanks to Jonas Jalhay for taking time out from his schedule to update us on his progress since graduating from ACM.

For more information about Jonas Jalhay, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.