The Gospel Thriller!
All Singers Saturday Workshop

Gospel Thriller Workshop


Come and sing in the gospel style, learning 'Oceans' by Hillsong, and 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson in harmony!

Saturday 24th October



St Matthew's Church Wimbledon,
Durham Road,
West Wimbledon,
Greater London
SW20 0DE


All singers are welcome

This 'Gospel Thriller' workshop is going to be so much fun!

Join us this October in Wimbledon, South West London, where we'll be singing gospel music arranged for us by Get Gospel, the BBC Gospel Choir of the Year Finalists, and a classic Halloween track, Thriller, by Michael Jackson. Expect to be entertained, challenged and enthused by Jim's excellent teaching. I know he is particularly looking forward to this one!

You can listen to 'Oceans' being sung in a gospel style here!

Both songs will be taught in three or four part harmony, and in case you're concerned, there won't be any dance moves!

We're very pleased to announce that members of Get Gospel will be joining us on the day to sing live (perhaps take part?) and offer tips for singing in the gospel style. Plus, Jim will make a recording of our singing at the end of the day for you to enjoy as a personal souvenir.


Adults £35
Children £20 (under 15)

Feedback from our most recent summer Beach Boys workshop:

Thanks Jim. The recording is really great. I had such a good day. I was with Rock choir in Dorking until I moved to Somerset in October last year so do very little singing now. I miss it, and your teaching was brilliant and very inspirational. Put me down for the next one. Can't wait. Thank you for a brilliant day. Sue Miller x
Thanks Jim, a thoroughly enjoyable day. Can't wait for the next one! Rachel Haig
Yes I totally loved it too and so good to get 4 songs for the price of 1 in the medley - looking forward to the gospel! Alison Dawson


  • You'll receive musical scores in advance for the songs.
  • Jim will be teaching Oceans and Thriller. They will be arranged in three or four-part harmony (SAT or SATB).
  • We'll provide tea and coffee for refreshments on arrival
  • There will be an hour for you to go off site and enjoy lunch
  • During the day our guests, Get Gospel, will arrive to sing and host a Q&A about singing gospel and their experience on Songs of Praise.
  • Jim will make available a live recording from the day that will be emailed to you after the workshop (for personal use only).


Get Gospel BBC Songs of Praise Jim Hawkins Pianist
Get Gospel performing on BBC Songs of Praise with our Jim accompanying them on piano!


Doors open at 10am and welcome refreshments

10:30-13:30 Session 1: Gospel Music, Oceans, incl. Get Gospel appearance and a short break

13:30-14:30 Lunch Break

14:30-17:00 Session 2: Thriller, incl. recording the songs we've learned from the day!

Travel info

St Matthew's Church is within easy walking distance of Raynes Park railway station, which is on the main line from Waterloo via Wimbledon. There are also good bus links from Wimbledon. If you require parking under special circumstances, please contact us so that we can try to arrange that for you. Please check TFL for the best public transport routes for you to the venue. Postcode: SW20 0DE.

Beach Boys Workshop Day – a real treat

Fab Feedback

Thank you so much - amazing day and I feel very proud of what we achieved with your excellent teaching
Will definitely be looking out for the next one!

- Karen Bond

Thank you for a great day on Saturday - a great Beach Boys fan in my youth! so enjoyed every minute of the day.
Looking forward to a gospel day later in the year.

- Gaynor Chick

Thanks so much Jim Hawkins for an awesome day of Beach Boys harmonies. I absolutely loved every second of it. They are geniuses and so are you  😉

- Emma Tracey

What a fabulous day! Adore Beach Boys music, such a thrill to sing those harmonies. Thanks Jim for best ever Workshop!

- Chris Hill

Thank you and very well done!

It is was hot, hot day for our summer workshop this year, which seemed very appropriate for the Beach Boys songs! Nearly 90 people attended the uniquely beautiful Normansfield Theatre in Teddington to learn a Beach Boys medley of  “I Get Around”, “In My Room”, “California Girls” and “Fun, Fun, Fun”, which they then sang with the band.  After a rest and lunch outside on the grass, the afternoon was spent singing “God Only Knows”, such a beautiful song, which you don't see the likes of these days.  Jim went on to record this... listen below! It's was a bit of a quick recording, but, for a few hours of work, I think it's a brilliant effort!

A quick message from Jim

Thank you to all those who attended and helped at the Beach Boys themed workshop on Saturday 8th August 2015. I hope you enjoyed learning the songs as much as I did teaching them with you and I must tell you how impressed I am with how much we managed to get through!

A special congratulations to all those who were new to score reading and learning in this way, you did a fantastic job! Well done for sticking at it, it's the only way to get to grips with reading the dots!

Next Workshop

Our next theme will be Gospel songs, date to be confirmed, but we're looking at the end of October.  Please sign up to our mailing list in the footer below to be first to hear the details and book your place!

Jim came away inspired by the whole day and has been bursting with ideas about future workshops. (Remember his remark... "Just imagine what we could do with a few days together!"...) Watch this space.

Workshop photos


“Fall At Your Feet” String Arrangement

Jim was asked to prepare a string arrangement for “Fall At Your Feet” for a choir recording at Abbey Road Studios.

Here is the MP3 backing track produced for your enjoyment.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a similar backing track or arrangement request.

The Lounge Kittens Demo goes viral

James’s recent project with The Lounge Kittens has given us a few simple insights into how to make a song go viral, and how to make it give you the break you want.

Choose a song with a difference

The Lounge Kittens came to the studio to record a demo of three tracks, choosing Firework by Katy Perry, Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit, and Ob La Di Ob La Da by The Beatles.

The Kittens sing in three-part close harmony, but they have a twist: don’t expect a classically styled version of the Andrews Sisters, these girls are rock chicks in disguise. The song choice pretty much reflects the weird and wicked directions they go in.

So which song do you think was the one that went viral?…

Record it with style

James spent a whole day training and refining the Lounge Kittens to get the best performance and vocal production on each song. You don’t want people moving on after less than five seconds listening on SoundCloud or YouTube, so the recording and production has to sound top notch professional. And your song has to catch people early on – really early on – to win them over. James recorded the girls on U87 and vintage ribbon microphones, he used an Addictive Keys piano sample – his ‘go-to’ sample library – then he spent another day treating and mixing the tracks.

Create a video with personality

The Loung Kittens left the studio exhausted from their drilling, but thrilled when they heard the results. Now the next bit of hard work was up to them. They took their favourite track and the one that they could have the most fun with, Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit, and produced a tongue-in-cheek video, playing with cheeky humour against their angelic voices. The girls had found their niche.

The power of Twitter

The Lounge Kittens are a relatively new group, formed in 2012, and started building up a social media following from scratch with these, their first professional demos. The power of Twitter though is not in how many followers you have, but how much influence and engagement those followers have. They tweeted a YouTube link of Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit and succeeded in getting Kerrang magazine and then Fred Durst, the band’s front man, to retweet and compliment it. It is not how many tweets you make saying, “How great is this?”, it’s how many retweets and mentions you get from people saying “How great is this?!” So find your influencers, celebrities, journalists and agents, and get them recommending you. Be careful how you do it. There are a few tricks, such as, do not @name someone at the start of a tweet as this will only be seen by anyone who already follows you AND them, but say “Hey @name” or even “.@name” because that tweet will appear in the feeds of people who follow you OR them. To help identify who your big influencers are, look at Twiangulate as this shows you the “Reach” of people who might be interested in what you’re doing. (It’s a lot of fun that one). Also help other people connect and they’re more likely to return the favour.

The Lounge Kittens have cleverly tapped into a very loyal, rock following and and Limp Bizkit fanbase without copycat-ing anyone at all. Well done ladies.

Be prepared to get a break and work it

Within a few days the Lounge Kittens had 50,000 You Tube views on Rollin’. But in the end, that ain’t worth anything unless it helps you meet your goals. You need to be sure of what those goals are and be ready to take advantage of the trend. For the Lounge Kittens this meant some seriously heavyweight live bookings: they are performing at Glastonbury Festival, Sonisphere Festival and the Boomtown Fair this summer 2014. From local private parties, to international festival bookings from one demo and video – WOW!

Understand what worked or didn’t and why

The key, I think, is in learning what works and what doesn’t and why. Without understanding that you won’t be able to replicate success again or grow it. Don’t give up if your attempt doesn’t work first time. Study successful people and do what they do. So if you want to be like the Lounge Kittens and generate over 150,000 views on YouTube of your song, then invest in planning, production and be clever with the promotion. It doesn’t take mega bucks, but it does take a vision and the right people around you to produce your song and video a high standard.

How to make a song go viral… tell us your experiences

Please post your comments below if you have any more ideas about what makes a song go viral. We’d love to hear from you!

SIGN2SING “As One” and “Get Up And Sign” singles produced by Jim Hawkins and Bottletop Music Productions

Written by Tom Gearing, Sarah Lindsay, Pippa Gearing

Recorded and Produced by Jim Hawkins

Co-produced by Tom Gearing


Katie Seath – Vocalist and Pianist

Katie Seath in session


Katie Seath came to record her latest demo here at the studio and also helped out with a few other bits and bobs for some other projects. She’s a very professional session singer who is easy to work with, talented, friendly and a great technician.

Katie performs and records with various groups and as a soloist on the London circuit. It was a delight to spend a few hours working with her at the studio!




Abbey Road 2013

Abbey Road Studios 20th-21st April 2013

photo-2It was a thrilling experience and lifetime achievement to record at Abbey Road over the weekend! I took five Rock Choir choirs into Studio 1 to cut their own unique version of “True Colours”. Over 600 singers came through one of the best recording studios in the world and to top it off, we hired the legendary Simon Rhodes as our chief engineer for the weekend.

I learned a great deal from working with Simon and gained such valuable experience from going through this type of recording process. It was intense and exhausting from the nerves and adrenaline, but I loved every second of it and felt completely “at home” by the end of the two sessions. I need to go back!

The Rock Choir choirs are made up of amateur singers with no musical background or training. Singers are not auditioned and attend simply for the joy of singing together. It doesn’t matter that not many have a musical background and don’t read music “dots” because everything is taught and learned by ear – very good training, and in someways, one of the best musical skills to develop in my opinion!

Abbey Road Kingston Rock Choir
Kingston Upon Thames Rock Choir create their Abbey Road moment!

The whole preparation and rehearsal process was deliberately creative with a close eye on detail. I put the choirs through their paces for 10 weeks, they were walking around in circles waving their arms, moving expressively, I had them singing from phonetic lyric sheets, singing in darkness, drawing the melodic and dynamic shapes, learning each other’s harmony part, drilling and drilling the structure of the song and finally connecting with the lyrics to draw out the emotional content. We studied and worked out this song like a Rubix cube puzzle and everything aligned perfectly on the big weekend! Simon actually commented on how well-rehearsed the choirs were and even went so far as to say they sounded professional! High praise and well deserved, we worked very hard for it! I’m a very proud choir leader!

Jim gives instruction amongst some of the 21 mic stands needed on the day
Jim gives instruction amongst some of the 21 mic stands needed on the day

We made five different and compelling versions of True Colours recorded and mixed in Abbey Road Studio 1. [Editor Note, May 2015: unfortunately, Rock Choir has asked us to remove these recordings from the James Hawkins Music site and Soundcloud account now that Jim is no longer a contractor for the company. We suggest, if you are looking to hear these beautiful tracks again, that you contact the Rock Choir office directly, as we passed all the recordings into their hands for their archive. Sorry to disappoint you.]

P.S. Sunday was a bit more of a family occasion as Baby Daniel and Mum joined us for some recordings…