IGF Rock Guitar Orchestra

IGF Rock Guitar Orchestra

IGF Rock Guitar Orchestra


The IGF Rock Guitar Orchestra is open to all students at this years Cheltenham Guitar Festival. The band will perform Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ as part of the student showcase performance on Thursday 6th August at the University of Gloucestershire’s Student Union.

Rehearsals begin on Tuesday 3rd August in TC106 from 4pm-6pm. There will be two further rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday lunchtime in room TC106.

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Day #3 | Monday 2nd August


Morning – Technique Expander

During the morning session the Rock Apprentices learnt how to play a standard twelve-bar blues progression. This included:

  • Dominant 7th barre chords
  • Learning the Major scale
  • How to work out a blues progression in any key
  • Using the roman numeral numbering system

The class then learnt how to play Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’, also popularised by various other blues legends, including; Jimi Hendrix.

Check out Jimi’s awesome rendition of the song at the Monterey Pop Festival:

After the morning break the Rock Apprentices learnt how to play Green Day’s ‘Brain Stew‘, which included:

Playing through Green Day's 'Brain Stew'

Jammin’ Green Day’s ‘Brain Stew’

  • Power chords
  • Muted string scratching
  • 16th note strumming
  • Controlling a distorted guitar sound

Brain Stew – Green Day

Afternoon – Performance Class

The afternoon performance class began with a run-through the three songs we have learnt for the student showcase performance on Thursday 6th August at the University of Gloucestershire Student Union (free entry for under-18s / £5 per adult).

Ash drops in to sing vocals

Ash drops by to sing vocals

  1. The Subways – Rock & Roll Queen
  2. Green Day – Brain Stew
  3. Killing Floor – Howlin’ Wolf

The class performed the songs as a full band, and for some it was for the very first time! Ash dropped by to sing vocals on Green Day’s ‘Brain Stew‘ and Tyrian jumped on the drums later in the afternoon.

The class talked about the importance of keeping eye contact with band members, paying particular attention to the drummer. Also listening to how the drums can guide you through-out the song, especially if you have lost count of the beat and/or your place in the song!

We also discussed:

  • Aural awareness
  • Keeping time (tapping your foot etc)
  • Communication signals

With the blues track ‘Killing Floor‘ it was important to feel the push and pull (tension and release) of the twelve-bar progression, instead of religiously counting your way through the bars. Although when learning you will want to memorise how many times you play each chord.

Visualising this:

Twelve-bar blues progression

Twelve-bar blues progression

Well done to all the Rock Apprentices for such a great days playing!

Special Interest Classes

  1. Funk Guitar (Rob Harris – Jamiroquai & Jason Sidwell)
  2. Roland/Boss Loops & Tech (Alex Hutchings)

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Day #2 | Sunday 1st August


Morning – Technique Expander

The morning began with a session on practice techniques, useful applications and planning an effective and efficient practice schedule. The class worked through the following:

  • Two finger exercises (1-2, 1-3, 1-4)
  • Three finger exercises (1-2-4, 1-3-4)
  • Four finger exercises (1-2-3-4)
  • Alternate picking practice
  • Thumb/finger placement
  • Ascending/descending patterns
Warm Up Exercises

Warm Up Exercises

Download the full warm up exercise sheet here: Warm Up Exercises – Level 1

The class also worked through some stretching and physical warm up exercises. This included:

Stretches and warm up class

Stretches and warm up class

Upper body warm up

  • Gently shaking your hands/arms/upper body
  • Circling your shoulders/arms
  • Stretching your arms/shoulders

Hand & wrist warm up

  • Rolling your wrists
  • Stretching your forearm muscles
  • Stretching your fingers
  • Star jumps for fingers!

After the morning break the class began working on power chords and even-eighth-note palm muted strumming. The class then began learning The Subways song ‘Rock & Roll Queen‘.

Power chord chops

Power chord chops

Afternoon – Performance Class

After lunch the class continued working on The Subways song ‘Rock & Roll Queen‘, learning the various song sections, rhythms and chord progressions. The session was supported with an insight into song forms and how to work out song sections. This included:

The bassists

The bassists

  • Intro
  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Bridge
  • Middle 8
  • Outro

The Bon Jovi song ‘Livin’ On A Prayer‘ was used to give an example of a great pre-chorus. Have a listen yourself:

The pre-chorus is so strong that it could almost be mistaken as a chorus!

Special Interest Classes

The class then had a choice between the following special interest classes:

  1. Blues to Rock Licks (Jonny Scaramanga)
  2. Fusion Concepts (John Wheatcroft)
  3. Rock to Jazz, Outside the Box (Alex Hutchings)

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Day #1 | Saturday 31st July


Classes started after registration and the festival introduction with Phil Castang.

Afternoon – Technique Expander

After registration the Rock Apprentices made themselves comfortable in the classroom and each student took turns to introduce themselves to the class. This years Rock Apprentices are; Thomas and Graham on bass, and Nick, Tom, Giuseppe, and Lewis on guitar.

We began with a short jam, to ascertain the students strengths, weaknesses and key areas for development. We jammed over a G minor rock groove at 70bpm.

We then started working on knowledge of the fret board and learning the notes on the neck using a simple formula and octave shapes to help navigate the fret board.

  • Root 6th & 5th String – 2 strings down, 2 frets up
  • Root 4th & 3rd String – 2 strings down , 3 frets up
Moveable Octave Shape 1

Moveable Octave Shape 1

You can download the octave shapes sheet here: Moveable Octave Shapes

The class then had a choice of Rock Expander special interest classes or band workshops.

The students could choose the following classes:

  • Major Modal Playing for Blues, Rock & Jazz (Jim Clark)
  • Developing Modern Rock Techniques, Licks & Concepts (Martin Goulding)
  • Improvisation using Exotic Ethnic Scales (Tolis)


I was then dropped in at the deep end and asked to cover the vocal class for the final session of the day. We listened to the songs that they will be learning this week, including; Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’, Radiohead’s ‘Just’ and Rick James ‘Super Freak’.

We talked about prosody, melody direction, scansion, rhythm, studio production and compression, the difference between live vocals and studio vocals, the role of the producer and various other subjects regarding vocal performance.

Kat's Vocal Class

Kat’s Vocal Class

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Rock Apprentice 2010

Rock Apprentice – Highway to Hell with Richard Perkins.

If you’re a beginner or an early learner with less than a year’s playing experience, then our Apprentice course could be just what you’re looking for. Focusing on a thorough grounding in playing basics, this course addresses key areas of learning, providing a solid base upon which to build in the future.

Principal areas covered include:

• Harmony – what chords do you need to know and which is the best order to learn them in?

• Melody – the importance of setting up a good fingering regime for all the basic level scales.

• Rhythm – covering song accompaniment, simple riff playing and correct plectrum technique.

The Rock Apprentice course also looks at essential techniques like string bending and vibrato, how to get the very best from your guitar/amplifier combination, as well as the use of effects. The set list includes music by bands such as Cream, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Queen, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and more.

Join Richard Perkins of Bath Guitar School on a voyage of discovery down the Highway to Hellishly good rock techniques!

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