Essential advice | How to make the most of your time at music university

We ask our students, staff and alumni on how you can make the most of your time with us...


With the 2019-20 academic year almost upon us, we're looking forward to meeting a whole new year of great student talent. 

For many, joining us will involve upping sticks from their homes and moving to London to kick start what we hope will be great music industry careers. 

To help you in beginning this journey in the right way, we asked some of our students, staff and alumni for their essential advice on how to make the most of your time with us. 

Check out our10 top tips below... 

Get organised with money and timetable  

I wrote a whole article about this for the ICMP blog a couple years ago.  But my advice would include downloading the Microsoft Outlook app on your phone so you can check both your ICMP emails and your live updated timetable from a single app.

Book in a meeting with The Careers and Industry Hub during your first semester and introduce yourself. They are your most valuable asset and will guide you throughout your ICMP journey and beyond. Also download a basic budgeting app (my recommendation: Yolt, it's free). Managing your money with a limited student loan is so important and an app like this will make it super easy to see what you are spending and on what things, so you can plan a monthly budget to get you through till your next loan is paid.

Aislin Evans, Songwriting alumna 


Remember that during your time at ICMP, you are surrounded by peers who will go on to work in the music industry in some way or another. So be sure to meet and chat with as many people as you can to build connections that could help you start building your future career in music (as well as potential friends for life!). 

Oli Tatler, Careers and Industry Hub 


Work hard at your craft 

My advice would be that you will get out what you put into it. Don't rock up expecting to be turned into a world class musician overnight if you can't be bothered to learn one song a week or turn up to lessons regularly. Head down, work hard, and the rewards will find you.

James Wise, BMus Drums alumnus 

Think beyond your course or instrument 

Go with an open mind. Whatever your instrument, don’t be constrained by it, attending ICMP can; given the chance, unlock your full creative potential, and show you what you can be. Don’t think I’m just a bass player, this is what I do, be prepared to be surprised.

Also the three years will go by so incredibly fast, therefore make the most of each moment and every opportunity.

Kevin Buckland, BMus Bass alumnus

Find your musical identity  

Don't just stick to what your colleagues do and the general vibe in your class, but make your own way somewhat "forcefully" focusing on your music and your identity as an artist."

Grace Kim, MMus alumna 

Write and collaborate after class 

Throw yourself into it - the one thing I loved about ICMP is how you would have a great time in the classroom but there’d be plenty of time around it to write on the downtime. Make use of this so once you finish a lecture, you can go and put what you’ve just learned into practice. It’s invaluable when it comes to learning about harmonies, different scales, using what you learn in a session environment. 

Jordan Shaw, BA Songwriting alumnus 

Enjoy being part of a talented musical community

Many entering students will have been the music stars of their school or local community, and so it can be a bit of a shock to the system to suddenly be one of many talented people all thrown together for the first time.

Most of us who have studied an arts degree have experienced this reality check at some point, myself included! If you do, just remember that it is a totally normal part of the process, and that many of your entering class mates will be feeling exactly the same thing. I believe this is a really healthy and important maturing and humbling moment for any young musician. Make a choice to stay in the light early on by taking inspiration and motivation from the talent around you. Remember that a major benefit in coming to study at ICMP is this very thing; to be part of a rich and thriving community of like minded and talented people. Embrace it, as you now have access to an in-built network of folks who are at the same stage as you, wanting to make great lasting friendships and to create. Trust me when I say that it will fly by, so just go for it! Go and collaborate, play, co-write, form bands and projects. Make friends, make music, study hard and most importantly of all, enjoy!

Oli Rockberger, Songwriting tutor  


Start thinking about your future career while you're still studying  

My personal advise as an alumni would be to not expect to finish ICMP and become a rock star by clicking your fingers. It sounds ridiculous, yet I have heard of people complaining in the past for having finished the course and spending a lot of time afterwards with no music related jobs or gigs. 

I was interested in playing live and I started to do it from day one year one, not after the end of the course. So to put it in a positive way, I would say get what you need to get from the school, but be out there. If your goal is to play professionally, then take the gigs and start your career during your time at uni and not afterwards, and learn how to teamwork asap! This way when the course is over you'll already have some contacts and situations to develop.

Francesca Confortini, Vocal tutor and alumna 

Be open to learning 

Be open to learn and take as many opportunities as you can to work with people, whether that be joining the choir, collaborating on a project with someone from another course or going to a gig!"

Lucinda Allen, Teaching Fellow in Vocal Studies

Say yes ... to everything  

My advice would be to say yes to everything. Yes to going out with new friends, yes to going to open mics and jam nights and yes to getting involved with new projects. 

Poppy Raine, BA Songwriting alumna 

Find out more about ICMP's 2019-20 Freshers Fortnight

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship, learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email and start your music career today.

Find your course

by Jim Ottewill
September 16, 2019
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