Cameron Gray



Cameron is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. Having studied guitar as his main instrument for over 15 years, Cameron has a range of experiences in the live performance and session world.

Starting in Aberdeen as a teenager, Cameron has helped to organise live events and jam nights around the city. Deciding to move to Glasgow in 2019 in order to further his studies in an academic sense. After passing the HND live performance course at Riverside, Cameron has turned his focus onto teaching and performing.

Cameron teaches Guitar and Bass, with his styles ranging from blues, jazz, folk, funk and country. Cameron also has his ABRSM Music theory grade 5 award which he achieved during his studies at Riverside.

What first influenced you to start playing guitar?

As a youth I was obsessed with music. As well as this I had a keen interest in video games. After playing guitar hero for the first time, I begged for a guitar as a Christmas present from my mother. This was my initial step towards playing guitar but as I went through different phases it fell by the wayside as hobbies do for any young child. It was when I heard Jimi Hendrix for the first time at 12 that really cemented guitar as something I wanted to do. After hearing ‘All Along the Watchtower’ there were no doubts in my head I wanted to do that.

What kind of music do you like and does this influence how you play?

My first love of genre was blues music, inspired by Jimi Hendrix I went down a deep rabbit hole of famous blues players such as B.B King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy etc. This was my focus for many years on guitar as I studied these players and looked to implement their techniques into my own playing style. I also spent a great deal of time studying acoustic fingerstyle guitar, inspired by John Martyn and Nick Drake with their unique open tuning sound. After playing almost exclusively blues and folk music, I turned my focus towards Funk and Jazz, as well as Fusion. I liked this style of music as it was refreshing to break away from the simple and repetitive patterns of blues. Guitarists like Guthrie Govan and Tom Quayle then became my idols due to their fusion-type style blending many techniques and styles together. This is something I am currently still developing.

What are some of your favourite teaching techniques?

When I am teaching, I like to get students feeling comfortable as soon as possible. I try to suit my lessons to each students’ individual tastes, trying to get them playing music from the bands that they like as early as possible. I feel like this is invaluable for cultivating motivation in my students. I have personally experienced my fair share of boring, uninspired guitar lessons, so I aim to avoid this by getting students involved and making some of their own decisions about their guitar journey. I am also a big proponent to the idea of muscle memory, which is an idea I try to instil in all my students. With focus put onto technical exercises which can be performed repeatedly, I aim to create strong muscle memory of techniques with my students. As this can be relatively un-exciting at times, I feel mixing this with lessons more suited to the students’ tastes are an effective way to balance this process.

What do you usually cover in your lessons?

Within my lessons I usually cover a wide range of topics, usually suited to my students’ individual tastes. For example, if a student comes to me wanting to learn blues improvisation, I will not waste time teaching techniques which are not suited to this style of playing. My biggest aim within my lessons is to keep my students motivated and excited about learning guitar, this means that learning my students’ individual tastes are important.
Asides from individual tastes there are also techniques that are essential (to some degree) to anyone looking to play guitar. These are things such as; knowing each different part of the guitar, learning basic chord shapes, playing lead lines on individual strings, learning music theory and applying it (scales, modes etc.), guitar Maintenance.

Would you recommend guitar to beginners?

I think that guitar is a great instrument for beginners, partly due to the fact there are so many potential ways to play the same thing. For example, a student could ask to learn a more difficult song quite early on, and the song can be easily adapted for a lower-level player to be able to learn and play. This (to me) indicates a higher probability of the student sticking with the instrument as they can approach pieces at their own level and have fun quicker. Compare this to something like saxophone, in which a player will be struggling for the first few months to even create a pleasant sound from the instrument.

How have you found your experience of teaching at the Riverside Academy?

So far, my experiences at the Riverside Academy have been nothing but pleasant. The facilities are all kept extremely clean and tidy and every member of staff is helpful and friendly. They also have great access to teaching materials which also come in handy from a teaching and learning standpoint. From the time I started until now, everything has been operated very smoothly and professionally, giving me a sharp vision of what professionalism looks like within the music education industry.

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