Reporter DAVID BAKER picks up his plectrum and Marshall stack and talks to the man behind a new workshop that aims to teach stagecraft and performance skills to aspiring musicians
FOR more than 25 years, Chris Lofthouse has been teaching guitar to budding musicians who are desperate to emulate their favourite artists.
He has run his own record label and owned a record studio that has hosted the likes of rock legends Led Zeppelin and Queen over the years.
And despite rubbing shoulders with some of the business's greats, the 52-year-old from Pinner is just as excited at the prospect of unearthing the next big thing with his latest project.
Later this year Chris and some of his former pupils are set to launch The Harrow Band Workshop, which aims to advise musicians how to perform, rehearse, record and write and give them the opportunity to form bands with other music lovers.
For years, his students told Chris how they wanted more direction in these fields, and from September he will be revealing the secrets in a 10-week 'rock school' course at Harrow Arts Centre.
The course will be available to anyone aged 14 or older, and Chris says: "People have always said to me that it was all well and good having the ability to play an instrument or sing but that performing was a completely different thing.
"I spoke to a couple of former pupils and we decided that we could run sessions on other aspects of music for those who already have some ability.
"Harrow is full of talent but there is definitely an art to performing. These sessions will also provide people with the chance to learn from each other and even to form bands of their own.
"Some bands don't even really know how to rehearse or improvise and we think we can help build stage presence.
"We have already had a lot of interest from people of all ages, in fact many have been in their mid thirties because they have settled careers and relationships and now have the time to finally start performing.
"We are not targeting anyone specifically because we think you are never too old to get into music."
Chris will run the sessions with musicians specialising in bass, keyboards, drums and vocals. All are from Harrow and most are former Nower Hill High School students.
Two of these specialists are Leo and Seb Marks who, during their time with band Munkster, have performed alongside current chart toppers such as The Kaiser Chiefs, Damien Rice and Biffy Clyro.
Chris adds: "It is great to have so many talented people on board and we are really hopeful that it is going to be a big success.
"When they have had all the sessions, we are going to put different musicians in a band and give them the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience. We are also seeing if we can arrange for them to get into recording studios and get a feel for actually laying tracks down.
"Keeping it local was always the plan because Harrow has always been thriving when it comes to music, and who knows, the workshops might be responsible for putting together a successful band and one to look out for in the future."
* The 10-week course is open to anyone aged 14 and above and will start in September, with one two-hour session a week. The cost is £200 for the entire course.
Anyone interested can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or look at the workshop's website at www.theharrowbandworkshop.co.uk .