Information and Advice

The Weekly Learning Vault: 18th Nov 2021

January 05 2022

Hello Explorers,
Welcome back to The Weekly Learning Vault. I – Philippa – will be guiding you round once
more, with the input of our Head Curator, Thomas. Don’t worry – he doesn’t curate heads –
not unless they have some serious musical merit and have been mummified first. Maybe
one week we’ll go to the lower level of the vault and take a look… Anyhow, this week we
will be checking out some books – one to boost your playing and one to assist your
songwriting, but first, we’ll start off with a banging playlist contribution from Thomas.

Thomas finds Bob Dylan: Covered
Anybody who has seen Bob Dylan live will know that nobody covers a Bob Dylan song quite
like Bob Dylan, but others also do it well. My Thursday gift to ye, is six hours of Dylan music,
done differently. Laura Marling, Jeff Buckley, Sinead O’Connor, Patti Smith, and Miley Cyrus,
among others, perform their interesting and inspiring takes on the American bard’s classics.
Hearing these songs in a new light has been a reminder of just how special a writer he is. It
has also made me question whether we should take the songs we play in class and totally
reimagine them, as many of the musicians on this playlist have done.
Next week, I have a fourteen-hour playlist for you that I was given from a bar man in New
Immerse yourself in the sweet music here.

The Little Black Songbook: David Bowie
I can personally vouch for the excellence of this book. If you want to learn chords and chord
combinations that few other musicians use and see the lyrical and musical mechanism
behind Bowie’s songs, then I would highly recommend it. I bought this book when I first
started playing guitar and began bookmarking with post-it-notes the pages of songs I liked.
Every page now has a post-it-note sticking out of it, which you could argue makes post-it-
notes (or me) totally stupid. There are also Little Black Songbooks for the works of Bob
Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, and The Beatles, which, if
anything like the Bowie book, are probably invaluable resources.
You can get your hands on a secondhand copy for £6.34 from Abe Books.
Or you can buy it new for £9.85 from

How to Write Songs on Guitar’ by Rikky Rooksby
This book is perfect for anyone looking to meddle with the ancient alchemy of songwriting.
It provides fascinating insights into lyric writing, creating a melody, song structures, chord
sequences, and altered tunings – all using real-life musical examples. It also offers word-
from-the-mouth-of-the-goat advice from songwriters like Paul Weller, Marc Bolan, and Kate
Bush. I’ve enjoyed using it as a written companion to Thomas’s songwriting workshops,
helping me to consolidate my learning. Apparently, there will also be a songwriting course
run by Mont Jake in the new year… exciting!
You can get a secondhand copy for £3.39 from Abe Books.
Or you can bag a copy new for £14.99 from Blackwell’s Bookshop.

Hopefully you’ve found these exhibits interesting. There’s certainly a lot to unpack and
discover here. We’ll be back next week for another trip down to the vault. Please bring
waterproof footwear and trousers, as the tunnels are liable to flood at this time of year.

Happy listening and reading,

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Nicola Cortese
Nicola Cortese
I started a course in Jan as a beginner with Thomas and I can already play 5 songs!.. with simple chords :) both Thomas and Fiona are really lovely and they really know how to teach whilst having fun! I'd highly recommend dropping at one of their Thursday's open mic! Tons of fun and talent for free!!!
Jonny Pollard
Jonny Pollard
Very friendly learning environment, was a bit nervous to play with a group having not played socially for many years, but it was super relaxed, and I learnt a lot in the first session. Looking forward to the next session!
Adam J
Adam J
Had a great time tonight! I joined on to the beginners course a couple weeks late, but Fiona was great at running me up to speed before the class. Tom was a great instructor, and managed to get us to cover lots of ground in a short space of time. The group was super freindly and relaxed, and im looking forward to going back next week!
Jakub Špaček
Jakub Špaček
Having played guitar in my past within academic environment I have to say The Guitar Social club opened my eyes with their amazing and vibrant atmosphere with company of great people. Lessons are really fun and easy to follow. Feel really motivate just after few classes and my connection to the instrument greatly improved!
Paula Smith
Paula Smith
Unbelievably great, not kidding.
Marcella Puppini
Marcella Puppini
This exactly what I was hoping it would be. A fun and engaging way of learning a new instrument at a lovely venue, with great people and great teaching. Thoroughly recommended.
Only been going 2 weeks but it's a great environment with good pacing throughout the lessons. The community is quite helpful + open to learn so it's really a great space for anyone wanting to hone their guitar chops!
Kevin S.
Kevin S.
Is it a guitar school? A social events group? A music workshop for all ages and abilities? An open, non-judgemental route to performing? A holiday club that includes jamming on guitars around the campfire? Well–it's all these and more. The Guitar Social is built around founder & lead tutor Thomas (plus TGS Business Director, Fiona, originally one of its earliest students). Patient and passionate, Thomas and his relaxed, friendly temperament get the best from beginners to improvers and beyond. Personally for me, one core strength of The Guitar Social is that Thomas realises what most tutors and courses never do – we can all learn fast and well when we play whole songs together and discover as a group how to make them work. Thomas and TGS guest tutors will always tend to teach music theory for guitar, and focus too on scales, chord voicings, correct rhythm, licks, riffs, parts, soloing etc, but with a tendency to make it about the fun and learning gains when students jam together on great songs instead of staring at a white board and not playing much music. Jamming songs in similar or mixed ability groups helps TGS students become functioning musicians who have built useful real world skills and experience across many sessions similar to how working musicians rehearse and workshop songs. And you will have the opportunity to build live experience too if you wish – solo or with your term group or with others of your choice, in a safe, positive environment, with friendly fellow students as your audience. Never any pressure and just one example of where TGS delivers extra value. They are really worth trying. I haven't even done full justice here to all the different activities they do.
stu smith
stu smith
The coolest club in London!
Colin Taylor
Colin Taylor
I'm back for my second series of the Joy of the Jam. After not playing with others for over 30 years, these sessions are reminding me just how inspiring and enjoyable jamming can be. Thomas leads the sessions with huge enthusiasm and a great deal of humour. The support of his impressive musical knowledge is ever present - but this never gets in the way of our desire just have fun and be playing.

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