Interview With JTC Degree Student – Paul Wisby


JTC Degree student, Paul Wisby has taught hundreds of students from beginners to advanced since establishing his Oxfordshire guitar school over 20 years ago. Currently, he is in his final year of studying part-time for the BA(Hons) Creative Music Performance. He took some time out from his busy schedule to share his story and tell us why studying with DIME ONLINE was the right choice for him.

What is your background in music and education?
I studied at the Guitar Institute in London (now the ICMP) in the early ’90s. This was before ACM or BIMM were established and began to offer degree courses.The course was a fairly intense one-year diploma where lots of things were thrown at you. It was a good experience, but only relevant for the era it was delivered in.

Why did you decide to apply for an online music degree?
After studying at the Guitar Institute, I began working as a guitar tutor and teacher in schools around Oxfordshire and Berkshire. I was relatively successful at this, but of course, as things develop you gain commitments and financial obligations. I knew I wanted to study and update my playing skills; however, the only options for me were to stop teaching and enrol in a full-time course, but not have any income to fund my studies. The alternative was to study for a degree online. There were options with Open University and some other institutions, however, most of these were very academic and research based, and lacked a playing-centred approach.

How did you come across DIME ONLINE?
At the time, I was already half way through a Creative Arts degree. Half of the course modules were music and composition centred. However, the remainder of my degree had to encompass modules from the rest of the creative arts. I came to the conclusion that I may have to spend the next two years studying printmaking, or knitting, which was not something I really wanted to invest my time in! I stumbled across an article in Guitar Techniques about the launch of the JTC Degree with EMU Education, later to become DIME ONLINE.

What made you choose to apply to study with us?I looked at different study options for quite a while and DIME ONLINE was the first place that managed to convince me they had a software infrastructure robust enough to deliver a fully interactive online learning experience.

What are your short and long term academic and career goals?
My initial short term academic goals are to finish the course. I may also be looking to further extend some of my teaching qualifications. in the longer term, I would like explore postgraduate options in composition.

How do you find online study fits in with your lifestyle?
Online study works well for me. The Canvas virtual learning platform is a great way of presenting the course material, and the convenience of being able to access the course at a moment’s notice, on any device, is a real benefit. With my teaching commitments, the days start early and end late. Most days I can be at a number of different schools. Usually, I manage to study in small bursts between students, or at break times etc.

Where do you carry out your studies?
During term time, the majority of my study takes place early in the morning before I start my days teaching. This can take place at either the school I am teaching in or at or in my studio at home.

What do you find most rewarding about your studies?
Studying the Developing Your Own Style module has been a great experience. We spend so many hours learning to play other guitarists licks, and then learning to play in different styles. Perhaps we miss the bigger picture in not developing our own voice on the instrument first. Having a module that was geared to make you really reflect on your own playing, and codify the elements that define your style has been a real game changing experience.

What do you find most challenging about your studies and how do you overcome that?
Effective time management. I use an app called Wunderlist. You can input your tasks into a to-do list, and the app will keep emailing me until I have completed the task.

Who were some of your influences as you progressed as a musician?
Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore and Stevie Ray Vaughan have always been big influences.

What suggestions or tips would you give to someone thinking about applying?
Really think why you want to take the course, and what you want to get out of it. Manage your time wisely, and above all enjoy it!

Here’s an original piece by Paul, written and recorded for an assessment submission.