Garry’s guitar workshop for schools is designed for pupils between the ages of 11 and 18. It lasts for 90 minutes and usually takes place in the assembly hall or theatre. Sometimes, pupils from more than one school will attend. It is intended that it should be entertaining as well as educational.
The workshop gives young people an introduction to the guitar and its expressive capabilities. It will help them to develop an appreciation of the instrument, encourage them to discover more about it for themselves, and show them how playing the guitar, no matter what their level of expertise, can enrich their lives. They will also be able to get an insight into an unusual industry from a performer’s point of view.
Garry brings with him a selection of instruments and amplifiers, as well as a high-fidelity PA system, which will be used to play selected pieces of music. He can also show video and photographs from his laptop on an Interactive White Board, or by means of a projector, if these are available at the school.
The session begins with an account of Garry’s musical career, from his introduction to the electric guitar during his first term at boarding school in Ireland in 1961 and forming his first band there, through the ten year career of The Boomtown Rats, to the band he plays with today. He is still playing with the drummer from that first band, Simon Crowe, and has recently worked with Bob Geldof on Bob’s latest album.
Garry talks about the history of the guitar and its development from ancient instruments like the Oud to the types of guitars, acoustic and electric, that are more familiar to us today.
The workshop includes a brief explanation of how the electric guitar works. Everyone will get to see the two main types of pickups used on an electric guitar. The guitars are played to show the wide range of sounds which can be produced from them and how each guitar has its own distinctive sound character.
The pupils will be introduced to some of the acknowledged great players of the guitar and encouraged to investigate them for themselves.
Garry discusses the development of modern rock and pop music from its roots in the 12-bar, 3-chord structure of The Blues and shows how this simple form still has the power to express deep emotion, whatever the player’s technical ability on the instrument.
Using 12-bar backing tracks of drums and bass, he shows how a blues song can be built and arranged and invites pupils to try this out, by playing along with the backing tracks, either on their own guitars or using one of his. This gives the pupil the experience of playing to a rhythm and simple chord structure which offers infinite scope for improvisation. Whatever their skill level, this section of the workshop is the part that pupils say they enjoy the most.
At the end of the talk, ample time is set aside for Garry to answer whatever questions anyone might wish to ask.
The Workshop:
“Introducing The Electric Guitar”