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Our connections to the music industry were in evidence again recently at ACM London, when students were left in awe after a masterclass and performance from finger-style guitarist Mike Dawes.

Hosted by Ace, the masterclass with Mike Dawes gave students an introduction to his career and plenty of excellent advice. With several performances during the class (including Mike’s famous version of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’), students remained completely engaged throughout this practical and informative masterclass.

Mike also revealed that his connection to ACM goes back further than the masterclass, saying: “I actually used to do the Saturday course at ACM Guildford back when I was 13 or 14 because I grew up around Guildford, so I’m very aware of ACM, it’s been a part of my life for many years. It’s really cool to be here in Clapham, it’s nice to see that ACM’s getting bigger and there are more students interested in picking up an instrument.”

Following this, Mike explained to the students how he ‘cut his teeth’ on the open-mic scene in Guildford. He spoke of how he was influenced by the late ACM tutor Eric Roche, who notably taught Newton Faulkner, and introduced him to the unique fingerstyle technique.

Having made a name for himself online, Mike told students about how his cover of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ went viral on YouTube. When speaking about his solo career, he explained that his first album came out in 2013 and that he’s been on tour ever since. He also revealed that his new album is due to be released this Summer and will focus on percussion around the sound hole of the guitar.

Alongside his solo career, Mike also works as a session guitarist for Jason Haywood; when asked how he got the job, he shared that a fellow support act recommended him, despite the fact he felt he had played in the ‘worst gig of his life’. He added: “the moral of the story – don’t get put off by a bad gig.”

The masterclass was extremely useful for our guitar students, with Mike offering many tips and techniques for them to try. He showed them the different ‘drum’ sounds and where you can find them on the guitar, advising those wanting to attempt the style to do a snare-and-kick beat and to fill the gaps with 16ths. Mike’s advice also extended to preparation for live performances, which included practicing standing up if that’s how you’re going to be performing live.

When speaking about the business side of the industry, Mike told students to get a manager they trust and a good PR company for their releases.

The masterclass drew to a close with students queuing up to catch a glimpse of the talented guitarist’s gear, asking him even more questions about his equipment and career.

We’d like to thank Mike for taking time out of his busy schedule to come down and speak to our students.

If you’d like to study at ACM and learn from the best musicians the industry has to offer, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.

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