Eddie with AMS director Shaun Baxter

Eddie Van Halen in conversation with AMS director Shaun Baxter

Eddie Van Halen, who passed away last week (6 October 2020) was a pioneering and hugely influential rock guitarist. For many he re-invented the rock style and it was never same again. His career was eclectic and powerful, he played the solo on ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson and was notable for the techniques he brought to the masses like pinched harmonics, left and right hand tapping, legato (hammer-ons and pull-offs) and fast picking. His flamboyant and exciting style captivated the 80’s scene and his band Van Halen, reached immense heights.

Academy director Shaun Baxter was a teacher at the Guitar Institute in 1995, and had the opportunity to interview his guitar hero for his first ever interview as a journalist, at the Park Lane Hotel in London. What follows is that very conversation. The interview has been edited for this platform – you can download the complete, unabridged transcript here.

tapes and papers

On a train to our rendezvous at a hotel in Marble Arch, I couldn’t help wonder what it was going to be like to finally meet Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen are very powerful these days, having gone from strength to strength over their impressive 15-year career. With the last two albums going straight to the top of the American charts. I entered the foyer of the very impressive Park Lane hotel only to wonder how long it would take before I was being carried back out by one of Mr Van Halen’s burly minders after exception had been taken to one of my questions…

I was met by Amanda, Van Halen’s ultra-efficient personal assistant, who ushered me to the interview suite where the photographer and his assistant were setting up. I introduced myself and admitted to being a little nervous as the photographer returned my sweaty palm. I picked up a copy of Metal Hammer from the coffee table and my buttocks clenched tighter at the sight of the recently-bearded, short-haired and totally unrecognisable face of my interviewee staring menacingly out at me from the cover. It was my first ever interview and I couldn’t possibly start any higher up the ladder. Edward Van Halen, easily the most influential rock guitar player since Jimi Hendrix

Just as I was wondering how we were going to cram an interview, a lesson and a photo session with the great man into the space of an hour, he entered. He was dressed in black and looked quite tanned. I knew he’d be small, but he was a lot sturdier than I expected. The new beard, which was now trimmed to the chin, and short spiky hair were in direct contrast to the long-haired, clean-shaven and elfin-grinned look I’d always come to associate with the hero of my formative guitar years. 

Eddie Van Halen Guitar Solos

As we shook hands, I suddenly realised that although I’d probably read every interview that Eddie Van Halen had ever done, nothing could have prepared me for his voice. His penchant for cigarettes and alcohol are almost as legendary as his guitar playing and his broad West Coast accent has been fermented by well over a decade of indulgence to produce a heady brew somewhere between Dennis Leary, Leslie West and Edward G Robinson; however, the most remarkable thing of all was his total lack of pretention. Within minutes, I’d forgotten my earlier worries and, by the time that Eddie grabbed his guitar and joined me on the sofa, I completely relaxed.

I started telling Eddie how at the Guitar Institute, our Rock programme is split into two distinct areas – pre and post Van Halen. Such is the magnitude of his influence over the genre. I also told him, however, that a lot of young guitarists today are listening to third-generation Van Halen copyists and yet have never heard any of his earlier albums. Therefore, I wanted to devote the bulk of this interview to the origins and development of his unique style, the influence that he’s had on rock guitar and then bring things right up to date by talking about his new album ‘Balance’.

To resort to conventional punctuation when writing an interview with Halen would only betray the enormity of his personality. When I listen back to the tape, it’s as though I could be in conversation with a loveable cartoon character. The cadence of Eddie’s voice demands that certain words are written in CAPITALS if you are to get a proper sense, not only the rise and fall of the sentences, but the animated way he communicates. He does so with patience, enthusiasm and ALWAYS with good humour.


One noticeable aspect of Van Halen’s style, when he first burst on the scene, was that it seemed geared towards catering for a low boredom threshold. Every solo was a balanced mixture of new and ear-catching techniques. I asked him how calculated he’d been in putting together a style that was so stunningly different from anyone else?

“It really wasn’t calculated at all. Meaning, I just stumbled onto this shit. I’m telling you man, it’s all a coupla beers and wingin’ it. I’m serious,” he laughed. I told him that most guitarists wanted to emulate their heroes and yet he sounded different. “Yes, ‘cause I grew up on [Eric] Clapton and ended up not playing like him at all, so it’s weird to me too.”

It seemed to me that one negative aspect to Van Halen’s influence was that a lot of players started producing horribly formulated solos in an effort to dish up the same wide range of musical ingredients. “They used the techniques that I used as a TRICK.”

I understood his use of the word ‘trick’ to mean using a technique more as a cosmetic effect, rather than a vehicle for expression. I agreed and pointed out that, suddenly, players started approaching a solo as though they were baking a cake: “a hand-full of whammy bar histrionics, a touch of tapping and a pinch of harmonics and ‘voila’ a successful solo.” To me, the results always sounded stiff and contrived.

Rock legend

“Exactly! Very stiff!” Whereas he never sounded like that? “No, because I played that way for YEARS before we even had a record out. So like, for ME, it wasn’t a trick. For me, it was just the way I played.”

Obviously, thinking that my use of the word ‘formulated’ was curiously at odds with my profession, Eddie continued, “Yeah, I think the main reason behind that is because [leaning forward he gives me a reassuring touch on the knee] and I don’t mean to say that you’re part of the problem, but YOU’RE TEACHING THESE PEOPLE.”

I felt like pointing out that actually I was also completely self-taught and I always stress to my students the need to be both expressive and different, but time was short and, besides, I was too busy laughing. “No-one taught me. I stumbled onto this shit.” He paused. “I guess my point is – and I don’t mean to say [he puts on an important-sounding voice]: ‘Hey, well I’m bitchin’ because I never took a lesson.’ What I mean is NOBODY I knew played guitar. I was very isolated.”

Eddie explained how his original style developed from trying to figure out how people played certain things and, because he didn’t know any better, he discovered his own way of doing them. “If I had something in my head, I would figure out some way to do it. I’d hear Segovia’s stuff and go [whispers]: “No…I can’t fingerpick, so I CHEATED… And it worked [demonstrates pseudo-flamenco beginning to ‘Little Guitars’ from the ‘Diver Down’ album]….and [what with] playing classical piano – you know, doing arpeggios – I’d go like: ‘How can I do that?’ [demonstrates right-hand tapping]… ’Cause I sure as hell couldn’t do it any other way so I had to cheat. You know. I’m actually a good cheater,” he laughed.

Eddie with his band

I assumed then that Eddie spent hours and hours experimenting just to explore the potential of each separate technique. Like harmonics for example? “Yes!…and they just CAME! I just stumbled across those….[he demonstrates fret-tapped harmonics] and I found out later what the ‘correct’ way to do it is. You see people [demonstrates the ‘orthodox’ method of creating artificial harmonics]… Picking them out like that. You know what I mean? I CAN’T DO THAT!”

He couldn’t.

“It’s a fuck! So I just cheat and go…[demonstrating the Intro to ‘Women in Love’ from Van Halen II]… And it works.” [laughs]

Not only that, but it sounds different. I put it to Eddie that his celebrated experimentations on guitar were more akin to Avant Garde ‘art’ guitarists, like Fred Frith, who hang paper clips from the strings of the guitar and then beat it with a hammer. “Actually, THAT I do more on piano. I don’t know if you’ve heard the new record?” 

I told him that I had and asked him to tell me the story behind the piece in question, ‘Strung Out’. “Back in 83/84, my wife and I ran into [Marvin Hamlisch]. We went to rent his beach house and he had this beautiful white Yamaha Baldwin and I, you know, proceeded to cop a buzz and destroyed his piano. For three days in a row, I used forks and knives on the strings and, I don’t know, if you asked me: ‘What possessed you to do that?’ [lowers voice] I’m fucked if I know. I just felt like playing around. I would hit notes and do harmonics on the strings and stuff and I’d just have a lot of fun doing it… And wasted his piano while doing it.”

Eddie with his music

Legend has it that an extremely irate Hamlisch presented Van Halen with a bill for $15,000 upon his return.

“….And then I found out that he was coming back home and I said: ‘Oh Shit! What am I going to do?’ There were cigarette burns on it and everything. You know, I had to buy him a new piano.”   I mischievously added that it was probably the piano on which he wrote ‘The Way We Were’ – the guilt became too exquisite and he threw his head back and laughed out loud.

I reminded Eddie that he’d also trashed a few guitars in his time while subjecting them to the same investigative torture. The fact is that Eddie Van Halen’s creativity and thirst for adventure go far beyond the average guitar player when left to their own devices. He’s always maintained that most of his ideas came as a result of practising while watching television. But I told him that I frequently had problems teaching his stuff to a classroom of unamplified guitarists as a lot of the techniques that he uses are inaudible when the guitar is not plugged into a distorted amp.

Eddie Van Halen Hit Parader Cover

“Yeah, for years, what I’d do is that I’d have a Marshall cabinet with an old Fender Bandmaster [like an old light tweed head] and, on a Fender, if you take the speaker output to the cabinet you get full volume. If you plug it into the external output [whispering] it’s really quiet. It’s no good for the amp. Yeah, you’ll fry the amp after a while, but I used to play for years, you know, we would live in a small house and my mom would go [imitating]: ‘Why do you have to make that high crying noise?” [laughs]. The distortion and the characteristics of the amp were EXACTLY like it would be if it was plugged in normally, except it was really quiet – like a Rockman or something –you know what I mean? It was great. All the harmonics and all the shit came out that way. I probably saved myself a lot of hearing by that too.”

“The left is kinda shot,” he said after I asked about his hearing. “When I had it checked to see…at 10k I have the hearing of a seventy year-old.”

The photographer and I looked at each other with a mixture of amusement and horror.

I started talking about his domination of rock guitar in the ’80s, but was cut off mid-stream. “That sounds so funny,” he retorted, “I just feel like I’m this punk kid. I don’t know what the fuck I’ve done. It’s almost like it’s not me. I really don’t feel like I’ve done Jack shit, because I would love to be someone like Steve Lukather who is a TOP studio musician who can play you anything you ask him to play, whatever you ask him to play. I CAN’T DO THAT. It used to drive me crazy when we used to play clubs and we’d have to learn other people’s songs and it would NEVER sound the way it was supposed to.”

methode times prod

I told him that I’d always been curious as to how somebody with such an inquisitive mind and strong creative drive should still claim to be in the dark when it comes to music theory: especially as he’s so enamoured by the playing of people like Allan Holdsworth. Doesn’t he find it restrictive as to what progressions he can function over?’

“Yeah, I CAN’T DO THAT. It’s very confusing to me. I mean, I’ve tried, believe it or not. I took piano lessons from the age of six to twelve and I fooled my teacher. I would play something and it was my EARS… I would REMEMBER. Granted, it was simple stuff, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to fool him, but I never learned to read.”

I told Eddie that I was referring more to the way that harmony functions rather than knowing how to read; after all, Allan Holdsworth can’t read. I suggested that the reason that he had never actually got round to learning theory was because he never has to play outside Van Halen. Most musicians, who learn theory, do so in order to be able to function over any chord progression that may be thrown their way when playing with somebody else; whereas, in his case, he only ever has to play over Van Halen’s stuff, so he’d have time to work something out beforehand if he found a passage difficult.


“EXACTLY! I’ve always been in, kinda like, my own little world, so I can do whatever I want.” [laughs] 

So that doesn’t leave him feeling restricted? “WELL, what I’m saying is I wish I COULD DO. I guess I do feel… limited… as a musician. That’s why it’s hard for me to get up on stage and play like say… uh… Branford Marsalis, the sax guy on ‘The Tonight Show’, you know, he’s playing for Sting. He calls me all the time. He wants to JAM! I feel like an IDIOT! I’m scared to death because I CAN’T KEEP UP WITH PEOPLE LIKE THAT.”

“It was obvious that Eddie found it farcical to talk about music in these terms. Where I used a scale name, he would use an adjective. He doesn’t recognise a note as a word or number, it’s an intention or an emotion. As with most passions, where the magic seems to be directly proportional to the mystery, Edward Van Halen seems to have sustained his enduring romance with the instrument by refusing to demystify it. To him, music is a purely spiritual thing and so any attempts to quantify or label a ‘feeling’ are seen as both clinically and comically academic.”

Part of the interview was dedicated to a lesson. Click here to read more from Eddie on improvisation, and his relationship to the world of guitar theory.


Recently I’d read Eddie saying that he was becoming “more bluesy and traditional” in his guitar playing. In fact, he’d gone as far as to confess to feeling slightly embarrassed for being associated with techniques such as right-hand tapping. I was curious as to why he would want to move away from the very thing(s) that had set him aside from the competition in the first place and made him a star?

“I guess because there isn’t a whole lotta sillier shit you can do with the guitar. What else can you DO? At the same time, I guess I don’t want to have to keep coming up with tricks in order to be respected as a player.” He continued, “I pull out the tricks – if you want to call them that – all the time.”

I wondered how much Eddie was interested in keeping up with new developments and trends in guitar playing. I remarked that I’d noticed that he doesn’t seem to sweep pick much. What did he think of it as a technique? “What does THAT sound like? Like Country?” Reluctantly, I quickly showed him how some players use it with arpeggios. “That sounds more like an Yngwie thing.” I agreed and said that it was also associated with players like Frank Gambale.

“Who?” I told Eddie that he was a fusion player and showed how he applied the technique to scales. “So THAT’S how they do it so fucking fast!” The photographer and his assistant started laughing– so does Eddie.

“WELL, I DON’T KNOW! I’ve heard stuff where people are kinda just goin’ [gestures with his hands on the guitar in time with his voice], “RAAGROO! RAAGROO!… and I’m going, ‘What the fuck?… I ain’t playing like that’. See, to me, I’m TOO OLD to start taking lessons and figure that shit out. It’s just for years that I’ve been doin’ my own thing, you know, and I’m quite happy doing it.”

It was another testimony to Eddie’s modesty and TOTAL lack of pretention that we were able to talk like this without him getting the least bit defensive. He doesn’t seem to entertain ANY competitive thoughts, but then why should he? He’s got nothing to prove.

“Yeah! I was NEVER out to prove anything in the first place. You know? To me music isn’t a competitive thing. It’s very personal, It’s ME, it’s MY emotions, MY vibe and NOBODY can copy that.”

Eddie with AMS director Shaun Baxter

Eddie Van Halen is an incredible paradox. I’ve never met a player who’s less competitive and, yet, no one is more responsible for making guitar playing more competitive than him. The legacy, it seems, is completely at odds with the man. 

“But it’s ALWAYS guitarists! What’s the fuckin’ deal? I don’t get it.”

I told him that it was because they are all influenced by him. He changed it. “Yeah, but I’M not like that,” he laughed. “See that’s the WHOLE POINT. They missed the WHOLE DAMN POINT. It’s not about who’s FASTER or BETTER or whatever. It’s what’s INSIDE of you. What makes YOU want to play guitar, you know? Do you want GIRLS? What do you WANT? I did it because I’ve got nothing better to do, you know, and I LOVE DOING IT. It’s something that nobody can take away. It’s a way to express myself ‘cause I’m actually kind of a SHY, QUIET GUY, believe it or not, and it was a way for me to express myself.”

The photographer asked Eddie to get into position for the main cover shot. I started opening another cassette. In the background I can hear Eddie practising his sweeps (Raagroo, Raagroo), he calls over to me: “I couldn’t THINK that fast!”

He had me laughing again. I found it amazing to think that Eddie seemed to have remained so cocooned from other guitarists. For some reason I’d imagined that he would have his ear to the ground as to new developments in guitar. Instead, I learned that he’s very content to continue as he is. In fact, being around somebody of Eddie’s stature and modesty was starting to make me feel guilty for ever having entertained any competitive thoughts as a guitarist, but the truth is that most guitarists have to be competitive in order to get anywhere near the standard that Eddie has set, furthermore, the music business is fiercely competitive for any young guitarist and only a few survive. If we were all as free and easy as Eddie, we’d probably still be in our bedrooms strumming a few open chords.

Amanda reappeared. She stood there and pointed at her watch as the cameraman took the final few shots. Eddie talked to me throughout (unwittingly frustrating the photographer by not looking into the camera).

Just before he left, I handed Eddie a copy of my CD [Jazz Metal] and assured him that I sounded as much like him as he did to his hero, Eric Clapton. “Yeah, Cool! I might have to steal some chops,” he laughed.

I told him how I’d felt a bit nervous before meeting him, but now realised that I needn’t have been. “Oh shit no! I’m just an old fuckin’ Joe, you know. Yeah, I find it really amusing, it’s like you find some guys are just COMPLETE pricks and it’s like, ‘Hey buddy! All you do is play the GUITAR’, you know what I mean?” he laughed, “I mean Jesus Christ!”

As I was leaving, I met bassist Mike Anthony in the doorway. We chatted and, like Eddie, I couldn’t help but think what a friendly and unaffected guy he was. In producing two successful players who seem so at ease with themselves, the close-knit environment of Van Halen seems to have produced a true rarity.

If you play rock guitar, you are influenced by Edward Van Halen. If you are influenced directly, Eddie’s earlier works will need no introduction; however, if you’ve only ever listened to guys playing pale imitations of what Edward Van Halen was doing 16 years ago, why settle for second best when you can listen to the real thing? 

The king is Ed. Long live the king.


Words: Shaun Baxter, 1995

Read the full interview on the main AMS blog here, or download the original interview transcript.

More from the AMSonline blog.

BA student ams online virtual online festival

BA student plays virtual festival to support out of work musicians

Skilled guitar player Rene, one of our BA Music & Sound students - now starting on our MMus in Popular Music Performance - was involved with this exciting live stream project the other day. Playing at WZZUP Festival in Boreno, Rene played to raise money for out of work musicians suffering at the moment due to the impact of COVID.

Check it out in the player below! His performance starts at 3hrs 34mins.



Students in a Conference Hall

Our partner UWL reaches top 40 in The Guardian’s official guide!

Some excellent news has come in recently! Our partner university, UWL (University of West London) has climbed an impressive 23 places to become one of the top 40 universities in the UK according to the influential Guardian University Guide.

The university is now ranked 34th in the UK – their highest position of any league table ever! They were also the top university in England for teaching satisfaction and the ranking reaffirms their position as the top modern university in England.

“We are so proud to be working with this progressive and outstanding university,” says The Academy’s own Mel Baxter. UWL (which encompasses London College of Music) has validated several AMS courses, including some AMSonline courses, and we’re thrilled the university is getting recognised for its outstanding dedication to teaching and student experience.

Congratulations UWL!

Students in a Conference Hall

About the University of West London

The University of West London is ranked as the top modern university* in London, 8th modern university* in the UK and ranked as the 50th university nationally by the Guardian University Guide 2019. 

98% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduation**.

You can read more about UWL on their website, add check out our London College of Music validated courses here.

Arian Cap and her guitar

AMSonline team up with Ariane Cap


AMSonline are now working with international educator, bestselling author and online teaching personality Ariane Cap. We are looking for bass players that might like to study with Ariane from September 2020.


At the start of 2019, AMSonline had a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate music qualifications validated for supported distance-learning with the London College of Music (University of West London). This meant that courses could be accessed worldwide with no need for conventional college lectures. The courses are delivered 100% online, so anywhere with an internet connection is now a workspace.

Ariane Cap

Ariane Cap

Ariane Cap is a passionate educator, self-published bestselling author, eclectic performer (electric bassist), a busy blogger and habit coach. She is a prolific and eclectic educator with a large online following.

She taught at the Berkeley Jazz Workshop, the Golden Gate Bass Camp, was 10 years artist-in-residence teacher at the Wyoming Rock Camp Experience in Jackson Hole, taught at the California Jazz Conservatory’s Women’s and Girl’s Jazz and Blues Camps for 10+ years, co-taught masterclasses with Paul Hanson at the University of the Redlands, Colorado State, Montana State University and others. 


A Word from Ariane

I am happy to announce my collaboration with AMSOnline under the validation of the London College of Music/University of West London. Receive your Foundation Degree after two years studying at AMS Online with me as one of your teachers. 
On the Foundation degree students can choose to specialise in a certain instrument, and are entitled to an amount of support for that study by way of online video sessions. The curriculum is well rounded and practical. 

We are delighted that Ariane is joining AMSonline, and that we are able to offer her support for students that specialise in bass guitar and wish to study our Foundation Degree Music pathway.

Playing Base
Ariane Cap or Step Up Music Bassist Musician Photos by Tue Nam Ton - www.tntpictures.com June 2011


How do I find out more?

Applications are being taken now for the next start point, which is September 2020.

If you would like to find out more about your chance to learn with Ariane, please complete the form by clicking the link below.

kris barras

FREE Guitar Lessons with Kris Barras!

World-renowned guitar player and blues rock artist Kris Barras has teamed up with AMSonline and musicmasterclass.com to offer a 10 part free lesson series for all the guitarists out there that now find themselves with more time to freshen up their skills.

Part 1


Kris takes take you through the pentatonic scale shapes most commonly used in this style, but makes a point of trying to help get you out of the tried and tested shapes to introduce new licks and vocabulary that will open up your playing to help you find your own voice.

High quality guitar TABs accompany the lessons and can be downloaded from each lesson post.

We will be releasing these videos exclusively every Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Part 2

Kris will show you how to fluently move through the shapes of the minor pentatonic scale that were covered last week. There’s a cool exercise on learning to play on just one string using the same harmonic framework and some new lick ideas that combine pentatonic shapes, and also introduce syncopation for the pick up of a lick.


High quality guitar TABs accompany this lesson, downloadable on this page.

Part 3

This week it’s onto the blues. Kris will guide you through knowing which chord you are playing over in a typical 12 bar blues.  You will learn about what chord numbers mean, and how they relate to a 12 bar sequence.

Then there’s a 12 bar study solo, making use of chord tones from the chords used in the backing track, in addition to the  minor pentatonic and blues scales studied in parts 1 & 2.


High quality guitar TABs and backing track MP3 accompany this lesson, downloadable on this page .

Part 4

So far the scale we’ve been using is a minor pentatonic scale, this week it’s onto more chordal awareness using dominant 7th chords and the mixolydian blues scale.

Kris helps to introduce the new concepts using the minor pentatonic framework taught in the first 3 sessions.

The mixolydian blues scale introduces a sweet major tonality to the new licks that are studied this week whilst keeping things well grounded in the blues.


High quality guitar TABs and backing track MP3 accompany this lesson, downloadable on this page .

Part 5

This week it’s straight into licks.

Kris will guide you through licks that incorporate the mixolydian blues scale studied last week, but this time we’re in different positions on the fretboard. The focus this week is targeting particular chord tones from the chords of a dominant blues progression.

High quality guitar TABs accompany this lesson, downloadable on this page .


Download the PDF from this lesson here:

Part 6

This week we’re into arpeggios.

Kris will guide you through the arpeggios that relate to each of the chords found within a dominant blues progression and teaches licks that use arpeggios.

This lesson is focusing on helping soloists find notes that are within the chords of a blues using an example solo as the basis.

We really hope you are enjoying this free lesson series! Let us know by commenting in our socials.

High quality guitar TABs and a backing track accompany this lesson, downloadable on this page .


Download the PDF from this lesson here:

Download the backing track from this lesson here:

Part 7

This week our arpeggios are developed into a cool example solo.

Kris play the solo first, along with the backing track that you can download on this page. After a full 12 bar demonstration it’s a note for note walk-through of the solo.

We really hope you are enjoying this free lesson series! Let us know by commenting in our socials.

High quality guitar TABs accompany this lesson, and the backing track, downloadable on this page .


Part 8

This week we’re mixing it up by changing to a minor blues.

This time chords I and IV are both minor, with the turn around using a major 7 chord for chord vi and a dominant 7 chord for the V chord.

Kris has written an example solo to help you change up to the new tonality which incorporates the natural minor, or Aeolian mode, and also some pentatonic minor licks that now change dependant on which chord we are on in addition to chord tones from the progression.

Kris will walk you through the solo bit by bit and high quality PDF transcriptions and backing track accompany this lesson.

We really hope you are enjoying this free lesson series! Let us know by commenting in our socials.


Part 9

This week we’re adding some arpeggios to our minor blues.

Kris has written out the arpeggios that come from the chords covered in last week’s lesson, and runs through them first note by note, the TAB is downloadable on this page.

Kris has written another example solo over the same backing track as last week, this time though it’s incorporating the arpeggios that have just been demonstrated.

Kris will walk you through the solo bit by bit and high quality PDF transcriptions and backing track accompany this lesson.

We really hope you are enjoying this free lesson series! Let us know by commenting in our socials.


Part 10

This week we’re adding some speed!

This final lesson is all about how blues players and blues rock players incorporate speed to add some variation to their soloing.

Kris guides you through some example licks, including repetition of a phrase using both double stops and scale ideas from major and minor pentatonic scales.

Next it’s onto sequencing, Kris uses ascending and descending sequences of pentatonic scales to create rising sequences that build in intensity.

Next it’s chromatic runs and how they can inject some creative injections of speed and fluency into your soling, and finally incorporating chromatic runs to link dominant 7 arpeggios.

TAB PDFs are available to download from this page.

We really hope you have enjoyed this free lesson series! Let us know by commenting in our socials.


ams online self isolation sessions students open call videos watch

Students! Submit your Self Isolation Sessions to us

Calling all AMS and AMSonline students! This is an open call. We want to see and share the great stuff you’ve been creating during lockdown.

Been jammin’ during lockdown? Made use of some of this free time to write a new song, or cover an old one? We’d love to hear from you. Lately we’ve been sourcing and sharing some video clips from our students who have been doing some solo-sessions during the pandemic.

Simply email: [email protected] or message our main page on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll re-post and share your self isolation session and include you on our blog post when all this is over!

Happy jammin’






AMSonline are now working with the international guitar community of FRETMONKEY to offer online music qualifications.

At the start of 2019, AMSonline had a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate music qualifications validated for supported distance-learning with the London College of Music (University of West London). This meant that courses could be accessed worldwide with no need for conventional college lectures. The courses are delivered 100% online, so anywhere with an internet connection is now a workspace.

Music Production

What's the deal then?

Traditional academic qualifications come at a premium. Undergraduate college fees average about $10,000 for a state-resident student and $25,000 for a non-state resident per annum. That is before room, board, books and other expenses are taken into consideration.

The tuition fee for the BA (Hons) top-up Music & Sound with AMSonline is £6,150 per annum. That's about $7,600. There is no need to travel to college: All you will need is a DAW (digital audio workstation) that you might already own.

I'm already working in music; I don't need college

Unlike more traditional music qualifications, the AMSonline degree is designed for those working in music that want to develop their skill-set. The courses themselves are flexible; both in the curriculum studied and the mode of study. There are modules on creating content such as music for TV or games, composing library or stock music, songwriting, spoken word and radio broadcast as well as events management, music production and performance. In addition to online course materials, AMSonline students are supported 1:1 by industry professionals that are actually working in the areas mentioned above.

working in music


Fast-Track entry

Applicants are welcomed to apply to start directly on the final year of a Bachelor's Degree using their industry experience to 'Fast-Track' the first two years. This means that if you have 5 or more years experience in the music industry, you could apply. This could save you potentially 2-3 years of study time and costs, and gain you an internationally-recognised BA (Hons) degree certified by the London College of Music in just 12 months.

What about FRETMONKEY?

fret monkey

For students participating in this specialized program, FRETMONKEY  will deliver additional programming in DIY record label services which includes online opportunities as well as optional face-to-face options at the FRETMONKEY RECORDS STUDIO located in Conway, Arkansas (USA).  In addition to this local provision, an AMSonline representative will be specifically provided for you so that, whilst you are studying, you will be supported in a peer-to-peer community. This means you will experience more of a blended learning experience than those that are solely studying online.


How do I find out more?

Applications are being taken now for the next start point, which is September 2020. If you would like to find out more, please complete the form by clicking the link below.


ams online and coronavirus

Learning Under Lockdown – Coronavirus moves life online

Here's how AMS Online can help.

Coronavirus has begun to shake the UK – and indeed the world – in a way that was unimaginable even just one month ago. As we self-isolate, quarantine and social distance in the interest of our public health and collective well-being life has shifted online more and more.

Musicians too have been drastically effected by the global pandemic; event cancellations, gig postponements – the very backbone of the musician’s income taken from underneath them in the most unprecedented way.

Thankfully humans are adaptable creatures. Already, artists and creatives are capitalising on their capacity to mobilise online – online streaming of performances and DJ sets, tutors and artists offering classes online, and platforms like Bandcamp wavering fees to support unsigned acts. Our digital world seems more important now, than it ever has been before. Not just as a means to stay connected when people need it most, but as a way to earn and maintain and income stream, as well as learn new things as stay as motivated, entertained and switched on as we can.

We've also been trying to adapt.

Gigs are on hold as music moves online...

We understand a lot of artists might be out of work at the moment, or failing that, slightly more bored than usual, working (or isolating) at home for the foreseeable future.

We're happy to be able to offer a few small things to musician's during these trying times...

Free Songwriting & Creative Lyric Approaches short course

Firstly our FREE online songwriting short course (creative lyric approaches) is available to enrol onto now. You can expand your skills for free, and try and make the most of that time social distancing.

The syllabus for this course is set out over four weeks, with each week focusing on different areas of lyric writing. Each week provides helpful, practical, creative conversations and activities in order to help you grow as a songwriter and musical communicator. The course is suitable for beginners through to experienced songwriters; anyone who wishes to invigorate or reinvigorate their lyrical output.

Enrol via Udemy now.

Free online short courses from AMS

Our Edinburgh and Glasgow centres recently announced a new series of free short courses, which were originally programmed to take place at both centres over the coming few months. Now sadly, due to the situation dates for the physical workshops will look to be moved, while provision for the courses to be made available online has now been approved and will be available soon!

Fast-Track an online degree

Plus, a lot has been interrupted during the strange period, but if you're feeling like being quite productive during this time, you might be interested in our Fast Track Degree scheme. The scheme allows music industry professionals with relevant experience the chance to 'fast-track' to the final year of a BA degree in music, sound, production etc (see our courses here), and you could get a degree for a third of the price, for a third of the time – and all from the comfort (or confines...) of your home.

Interested? Sign up here.

Stay safe.

AMS Online x

online music courses ams online

AMS Online is back, open to applicants for January 2020 starts

Online music courses for flexible distance study. The Academy of Music and Sound’s online music teaching platform AMS Online is taking applicants for a January 2020 start, and encouraging those who already have industry experience, to fast-track to the final year of a BA.

In January AMS Online will be kicking off the winter term with a host of new students. There are still spaces, and we’re encouraging new applicants from all locations, ages and backgrounds (although some previous musical experience is required).

AMS Online offers professional teaching in aspects of music production, performance and business to those interested in a career in the industry or those with existing industry experience seeking to hone their skills. They provide the facility to study flexibility, at your pace, wherever you are in the world, making this the perfect facility for touring or busy musicians. 

My time with AMS has added so much to my professional and personal life and it’s an experience I would recommend to any musician.”

– Beth Goudie, Winner of the AMS Songwriting Graduation Award 2019

13 different countries are now home to AMS Online students, making the school an international music educator. Students learn from industry experts via Skype, online tutorials and individual sessions. 

Those with MUSIC INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE are encouraged to fast-track the first year of a BA in Music and Sound and skip straight to the final year – you could get a degree in half the time. Plus no need drop existing commitments, online study means you can take your degree with you on the road. This is a great opportunity for working musicians to get the most out of study and work in a competitive sector.

AMS understand that it is not just about having performance skills to succeed in the music industry. They specialise in teaching multifaceted aspects of the music industry, giving students the skills to succeed in a range of careers in a competitive industry.

Find out about the range of courses we offer here, and head to our apply page to put in an application.