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

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


With the 2021-22 academic year almost upon us, we're now looking forward to meeting a whole new year of great student talent. 

To help our latest influx of students begin their ICMP 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 their top tips below... 

Make the most of this opportunity 

Believe in yourself, learn as most as you can from this school and develop your strengths. There is enough space for you to come into this music industry! Be part of it! Everything starts with ICMP. You will be with musicians and people like you! This is a big advantage. While studying music be curious and open-minded to any person you meet and opportunities you can get.

Julian Stella, BA Creative Musicianship alumnus 

I would advise anyone starting at ICMP to make use of absolutely everything ICMP has to offer. From the experienced tutors to the masterclasses, to coaching & counselling, ICMP offers many so resources to set you up for a successful career in the music industry.

Ella Eliza, BA Creative Musicianship alumna

My best advice for new starters is to engage as much as they can and consider tutors their allies. That’s what I personally did and I had great results out of it.  

Ary Amato, BA Creative Music Production alumn

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 using an app like this will make it super easy to see what you are spending and on what."

It means you can plan a monthly budget to get you through till your next loan is paid.

Aislin Evans, BA Songwriting alumna 

Develop your CV 

Most ICMP graduates will build portfolio careers made up of different projects or jobs undertaken simultaneously and some will work alongside their study to build up practical experience and earn money. You can find part-time and full-time jobs across a range of areas within the music, creative industries and beyond via Careers+ and get advice on applications from the Careers & Industry Hub there too!

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

Ask questions 

This is your educational journey and you need to get out of it what you need. Don’t be shy and don’t worry about being that person who asks things all the time. It’s great to do that as the more you question, the more you learn. 

Rosario Mawby, Academic & Performist.  

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  

If you build it, they will come

Don't chase 'the industry'. Instead, focus on what you have elements of control over; development of your music, articulation, and communication of your vision through content, strategy, and planning on how to release your music, future-proofing yourself; don't just have one single ready, one video ready, one composition etc ... build depth before promoting and marketing yourself!

If you can build something undeniable, you will attract the right team of people to support you.

James Brister, Careers and Industry Hub


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 

Don't be afraid to make mistakes

I would say it's best practise to just make music all the time and learn from your mistakes. By doing this, it's the easiest way to understand what you did wrong and how to correct that. Also, if you really care about learning something new and gaining new skills, work a lot. You won't learn just by sitting in lectures. 

Krzysztof Kessler, BA Creative Music Production alumnus 

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 

Don't forget - we're here for you too

Our teams at ICMP are always on hand if you need us. From our Careers and Industry Hub to our Finance and Disability and Wellbeing Support teams, we have plenty of resources to help enhance your time with us. 

If you need to, then reach out to us either via your Programme Leader, Tutors or the relevant department. 

Student Information Centre

ICMP is committed to helping you start your music career with confidence.

As a new member of the ICMP family, our Student Information Centre will give you all the information you need to know about starting your student experience in September.

If you have any questions, get in touch with our friendly team by calling us on 020 7328 0222, sending us an email, or using Live Chat on any page.

by Jim Ottewill
July 20, 2021
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