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In September as part of our Freshers’ Week extravaganza, we proudly welcomed Jamiroquai guitarist Rob Harris to ACM London for the first time.
A long-time friend of ACM, with fellow Jamiroquai bandmate Paul Turner a tutor here, Rob has held a number of excellent masterclasses at ACM Guildford in his time, so we couldn’t wait to give our London students the same opportunity. The session was a mix of incredible performances, guitar tricks and input on how to navigate the music industry as a professional musician.
Following a killer rendition of Jamiroquai’s ‘Cloud 9’ to kick things off, Rob talked about the process he goes through when writing guitar parts. Often asked to ‘play in the style of Jamiroquai’ when doing session work, he shared one of his tricks to writing a great part, which involves finding a hook that doesn’t interfere with the vocal (a quick browse through their back catalogue will give you more than a few great examples of this). He also talked in great depth about the importance of layers in a recording, and how to use them to develop a song; he’s even done this by simply scratching a pencil on his guitar strings. When asked about his ‘signature sound’, Rob explained that he usually achieves this by doubling up guitar parts an octave higher than the original. He also shared one of his keys to a good guitar riff, “keep it simple.”
A common question from our students is the topic of practise routines, particularly just how much practise it takes to become a successful guitarist. Rob revealed that he would practise for eight hours a day when he left school, and really emphasised the importance of practising everything until it’s second nature.
On the subject of nerves, Rob gently reminded the students “you just have to remember that everyone makes mistakes from time to time”.
A key element of the life of a working musician is in the recording studio. After wow-ing our students with a performance of ‘Hot Property’, Rob was asked several questions about the various recording sessions he’s been involved with. He always takes a few different guitars to sessions to ensure he can find the best sound, and he urged the young guitarists present to remember that gear isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of getting a great sound; ‘it’s the way you play that makes the difference’. The masterclass also gave the class the opportunity to check out Rob’s Kemper amp, which he described while explaining that, while analogue gear can be fun, most people can’t tell the difference – he even recorded some of the Lego Batman soundtrack through the Kemper in his house, the producers were thrilled with the result and it was used on the film!
“This is my first time here (ACM London), it looks really great, a nice bunch of students. It’s a great facility and a really exciting place to be.”
Before the session drew to a close, one talented student asked Rob to have a look at his home-made guitar. Rob was clearly impressed, telling him its incredible before having a jam and playing a final song on the student’s creation.
We’d like to thank Rob for another excellent masterclass. We can’t to welcome him back!
If you’d like to study at ACM and learn from incredible musicians like Rob Harris, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/ to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.