Saturday, 27 October 2012

Gibson guitar becomes ISME 'Olympic Torch'

Gibson guitar becomes ISME 'Olympic Torch'
Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 7:25AM
MusicEducationUK in Global

As part of the 30th ISME World Conference on Music Education, which took place in Thessaloniki, Greece, last July, the International Society for Music Education (ISME) was presented with a silver Gibson Les Paul guitar at the ISME/Gibson International Awards for Music Education ceremony.

Sam Kidd playing the silver Gibson Les Paul guitar with 23 Fake Street, one of the bands that has grown from the 'School of Rock' project.

According to Lee Higgins, past ISME Director and Associate Professor of Music Education at the Boston University School of Music:

'Rather than the guitar being some sort of inanimate trophy, I proposed a project to Nina Miller, Executive Director of the Gibson Foundation, and Graham Welch, then President of ISME. The guitar would be put to work as a symbol for the ISME/Gibson Award. The proposed project was nicknamed the ISME 'Olympic Torch' as a metaphor for the instrument moving from one place to another. The general idea is that the guitar will become 'resident' in a small number of projects during the biennium 2012-2014.

'On 14 September, the guitar began its journey at a project named School of Rock in the Wirral on Merseyside. This project has three components. Firstly, the young people have lessons on instruments of their choice: guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals etc. Using a mixture of professional and trainee tutors drawn from recipients of past projects, this provides formal instruction on instrument and vocal techniques. The tutors have to deal with a range of skills from beginners upwards and the individual lessons take place in rooms spread across a youth centre and a church hall. After six weeks of technique, everybody is divided up according to instrumentation and put into bands to rehearse as an ensemble the songs they have been learning in the individual lessons. Finally, the bands perform two gigs including one at the O2 in Liverpool. 

'The School of Rock project finishes in December 2012 so the instrument will then make its way to US where Joe Pignato's popular music class at the State University of New York will enjoy it. To record the journey, I have placed a 'moleskin' notebook inside the case so everybody who plays it can write a message. Over the two years, we should be able to capture many of the experiences people have had playing the instrument.'

Lee Higgins will give a report of the ISME 'Olympic Torch' project at the 31st ISME World Conference on Music Education which takes place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2014.

Article originally appeared on Music Education UK | The national music education hub (
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