5G Music Lesson with Jamie Cullum

The University of Bristol’s, Smart Internet Lab held the World's first music lesson with critically acclaimed jazz musician, Jamie Cullum. This landmark event was delivered using brand new 5G technology and the Smart Internet Lab’s 5GUK Test Network, and kindly hosted by We The Curious, Bristol’s Science Museum.

 What happened?

On June 25th 2019, critically acclaimed musician and songwriter Jamie Cullum led the world’s first 5G music lesson from his piano at the two thousand year-old Roman Amphitheatre in London, playing live with amateur musicians at Bristol's We the Curious and The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire using 5G technology, on behalf of charity, Music for All

Thank you to Professor Simon Saunders, visiting professor at King's College London and Trustee for Music for All who led this initiative. To read Simon's full blog on the event please see here.  

Video highlight of the event:

Why do a 5G music lesson?

The event demonstrated how technology can remove barriers to learning. The advent of 5G technology will ultimately deliver super low-latency (i.e. low delay) connectivity everywhere, enabling an Internet of Skills where skills can be shared with others wherever they may live, work and play. 

Here, we brought together music teachers and aspiring musicians. Research shows that making music: helps people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to keep smarter, younger, healthier and more sociable.

Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol, said of the project: "We were delighted to collaborate with the charity Music for All and our partners in London, Birmingham and Bristol to deliver a world's first music lesson with the talented Jamie Cullum across 5G networks. This landmark event demonstrates how 5G technology innovation carried out in our labs at the University of Bristol can revolutionise skills development and cultural experiences. This initiative will give us an insight into exciting Digital Futures."

Who was the music teacher and why?

The charity wanted someone who was well known in public, could straddle musical genres, could involve and communicate with musicians and an audience compellingly, and who was a consummate instrumentalist and singer, but with a non-traditional route into music, consistent with Music for All’s aims.

With all of that at stake, there was really only one name in the frame, and to our delight he not only said yes, but approached the opportunity with huge enthusiasm – Jamie Cullum.

Jamie Cullum: “I’m delighted to be part of this ground-breaking event. I believe that the future of music can evolve hugely by adopting the latest technologies, like 5G. Having the privilege to perform with others via the power of 5G can open up new opportunities for artists, enabling them to practise and perform together remotely and communicate at a level that we never thought possible.”

Who were the amateur musicians and how did you choose them?

Music for All launched an open call for musicians, specifying that they had to be amateurs but with a background in specific instruments and on vocals. They were asked why they wanted to join the band and what questions they would ask to help them with their musical journeys.

Here is the callout video which Jamie put together to encourage musicians to apply:

 Just like that we had our wonderful 5G band and in Bristol we were delighted to work with:

  • Rosie Patton – sax & vocals (Rosie’s Facebook and Instagram)
  • Taylor Paisley-French – keys & vocals (Taylor’s Facebook and Instagram)
  • Lexi Milligan – vocals 

and in Birmingham:

Where did the 5G technology come from?

We combined our Smart Internet Lab 5GUK Testbed with the public 5G network from EE and 5GUK Testbed at King's College London.  Technology assistance was also provided by Digital Catapult, Prof. Alexander Carôt – developer of Soundjack and Focusrite  – provider of fine audio interfaces.

How does 5G allow music to be played over long distances?

Before 5G, each generation of mobile technology, aimed to transmit ever faster data rates. 5G does that too, but for us it’s especially important that it has especially low latency. Latency is the delay over the network. As humans, we need low delays to make our connections feel real and personal. In the case of playing music, performers need to make rapid responses to be able to play in time and to convey the emotional connection / feel / swing / groove.

Sound travels about 33 cm (about the length of standard ruler) in a millisecond – a thousandth of a second. Performers sitting a few metres away from each other get used to delays of a few milliseconds, feel an emotional connection with each other and can play in time and with expression. Much longer, and that personal connection is lost.

So how can we do that between cities? Well in the same time as sound travels the length of this ruler, radio waves travelling at the speed of light travel three hundred kilometers. In the past, wireless technologies have added lots to the delays, but 5G has been engineered specifically to make them as low as possible.

The experiments in preparation for this event showed we could make the delay between a note being played in London and that sound being heard in Bristol or Birmingham as low as 10 milliseconds. In other words, it’s as if our performers, who were actually separated by well over 100 miles, were actually in the same room and playing just three and a half meters away from each other. 

So we can now make the internet personal – and when 5G networks are rolled out across the country we can share our skills, and help more people enjoy the benefits of music.

Where were the musicians?

Musicians were playing in three iconic venues across three cities:

  • We The Curious is a venue at the heart of Bristol’s beautiful Waterfront. It is a space where people can come together to explore, investigate and be curious. They believe that everyone, from all backgrounds, should have the opportunity to ask questions about our world, and a place in which the answers can be explored together.
  • The 2,000 year old London Roman Amphitheatre, London’s oldest venue, deep beneath Guildhall in the City of London, kindly provided and supported by the City of London Corporation. It’s fitting that this, the oldest of entertainment venues played host to the very latest 5G wireless technology.
  • The Eastside Jazz Club, Birmingham’s only dedicated jazz venue and a purpose-built teaching space at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University. The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a world class institution providing exceptional training for the musicians, actors, stage managers and performers of the future. 

Julian Lloyd Webber, principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said: “As a world leading institution providing diverse music education opportunities to a broad range of students in a state of the art building, we are absolutely delighted to partner in this global first. Access to exceptional music-making sits at the very heart of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and our significant investment in technology and venues – including the Eastside Jazz Club – ensures a vibrant and memorable experience for all. We look forward to further exploring the possibilities of 5G in music education following the success of this fantastic artistic endeavour.” 

 Full live Coverage:


Who do we have to thank for making this possible?

While Music for All led the event, it was all made possible by a group of diverse partners who gave financial, technical and spiritual support:



Left to right: Ildi Fogel, Harriet Parks, Leif Knowles (Smart Internet Lab), Rosie Patton, Lexi Milligan (Musicians), Prof Reza Nejabati (Smatt Internet Lab), Taylor Paisley-French (Musician) and Navdeep Uniyal (Smart Internet Lab) Image credit: Nick Smith Photography
Left to right: Lexi Milligan and Taylor Paisley-French (musicians) at Bristol's We The Curious Image credit: Nick Smith Photography

Prof Simon Saunders

With thanks to Prof Simon Saunders, visiting professor at King's College London and Trustee for Music for All.  To read Simon's full blog on the event please see here.      

The event was led by charity, Music for All.   The charity believes that everyone should have the opportunity to learn to play music.

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