ICMP’s BAME Scholarship students

Get to know the postgraduate scholarship winners…

icmp_bame_scholarship_2020_1

ICMP launched its new Postgraduate Scholarship for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students earlier in the year. 

The initiative aimed to overturn the dramatic under-representation of BAME music scholars at the academic professional level. 

Commenting on the scholarship, Messiah Odinma, ICMP’s Access and Participation Manager, said: "I'm delighted we're able to offer these scholarships as there is a dramatic under-representation of BAME music scholars at the academic professional level. 

These scholarships will help under-represented groups progress into academia and are also a very visible commitment from ICMP towards a truly diverse and representative community. "

Professor Louise Jackson, Associate Dean (Academic Development), has also been keenly involved in the launch of the scholarship. 

She said: 

We want these scholarships to help talented individuals engage with masters level education at ICMP; especially those who may otherwise find it difficult to access the programmes."

With the students now undertaking their programmes, we caught up with them to find out more about them, their music and careers.

Sully Gravity | MA Songwriting

img_1216.jpg

What are you hoping to explore from studying through the scholarship?

One of the topics buzzing me lately is punchlines. Where in the crossroads between song craft and experience does the punchline appear? How is it influenced by your dominion of the English language? How does your creative process inform their appearance? 

How important has the scholarship been in helping you pursue further study?

It’s key. I want to pursue a PhD in Sociology after this MA so this not only takes the financial pressure off but helps me get a foot in the door of the programme. I’m really interested in researching the intersection between race, cultural capital, educational attainment and musical taste. I’ve been reading/researching about it, written two papers about it and I wrote my BA dissertation on the topic.

What musical projects are keeping you busy?

My main artist project, Sully Gravity. I’m currently writing a lot and the pandemic has definitely helped me clear my mind. I’m releasing a single very soon (like very very soon) and I’m working on a XMas EP.

What advice do you have for current undergraduate students?

Stay focused, have an open mind, and most importantly, reach out to people and collaborate.

Three years go in the blink of an eye and taking into account all the people you share space with means maximising your experience. Send that demo out, ask for that co-write, ask that bassist to jump on your track, join the choir, jam, perfect your skills. Do it all.

How have you navigated your academic studies up to now?

Hahahah. I don’t even know… First year was the easiest for me, I had a part time job at a retail store that meant my work-life balance was pretty solid and balanced if I can say that. I’m a qualified teacher from Spain and I went back into teaching in second year. That was a bit more intense but I’d say that it got tough in third year. I was promoted to head of my department at school (working part time), while being a full time student, Student President and most importantly recording artist… I don’t know how I made it alive but here I am. I think resilience is something that comes from home but having the right mind frame has helped me navigate it too. I’d say that things are a bit scarier now for me because even though I’m doing the MA part-time, it’s just as demanding as the BA, and I find that I am struggling a bit with the balance, but mostly because of Covid and how much it’s thrown me off my routine.

How have you faced any challenges so far in your career? How have you overcome them?

This is such a broooooad question… I’m going to go for the model answer: I truly believe it all depends on your approach to challenges, I truly believe that life is a “game” of perspectives and that even though we all see the same, we don’t see it the same way. I also believe that kindness is the way forward, always, and that really underpins my decision making. In the words of Bolu Babalola: “Being good, kind, honest  > being "nice". Nice to whom? What does it mean?  Nice has no integrity in and of itself, it is not a personality trait, it's often blind appeasement,  often at the detriment of one's true self. "Nice" is so easily weaponised because it is meaningless, sometimes the kindest thing to do is not to be "nice". Often the right thing to do is not be "nice". Nice is dependent on the perception of other, not on who you are. So who are you? Because nice is not a personality.”

Everyone faces challenges in their career, I just think I overcome challenges by trying to stay cool, trying to see things from different perspectives and having a “problem-solving” mindset.

Will Lawler | MMus Popular Music Performance

will_lawler_icmp_2020.jpg

What are you hoping to explore from studying through the scholarship?

Music therapy mainly, I’ve always believed music can be used as a way of healing or helping. I started playing music as a form of anger management myself. I’ve been playing for some time, then undertook some formal teaching and did some music therapy while at college. 

How important has the scholarship been in helping you pursue further study?

The scholarship was essential to me continuing my studies. It’s given me a lot more motivation to pursue my musical dreams. I’d been going through the motions due to Covid. But this has really pushed me to be more engaged with my music both in terms of my ideas and what I’m enjoying." 

What kind of projects have you been pursuing alongside your studies? 

I’ve always wanted to do an album inspired by Vivaldi’s 'Four Seasons'. I’ve been investigating this. My dissertation was also on the connections between video games and music and I’ve wanted to explore this relationship further too. 

What advice do you have for current undergraduate students?

Plan, it’s far too easy to think you can do everything at the last minute but this impacts the quality of the work and your grades. Especially now you can work a lot more from home. So you can plan a lot more about what you’re working on.

Take notes - whether typing or a notepad, I recorded everything as an audio message from my lectures, then typed out all the relevant details. 

Drink tea or any caffeine - it will become your best friend. 

How have you faced any challenges so far in your career? How have you overcome them?

I’ve always had a negative outlook on how I look. I’m a little bit larger, the fact I’m disabled and from Romany descent means I’ve always felt like people are looking down on me. I’ve been stopped and searched lots of times for just how I look. So my work ethic has always been high to try and combat this. I’ve had an amazing support group including friends and teachers. At ICMP, tutors like Dan Green, Luke Toms, and Tolis Zavaliaris were all brilliant in helping me.

Sophia Hamilton | MMus Popular Music Performance

icmp_bame_scholarship_2020_1.jpg

What are you hoping to explore from studying through the scholarship? 

I am hoping to create an album by the end of my studies that is complex and sets me a part but still holds a commercial element.  

How important has the scholarship been in helping you pursue further study?

So, so important, it has enabled me to be able to study! I am excited about the support I will also receive during this year. 

What musical projects are keeping you busy?

I have a release coming later in the year, it is a charity single for Children In Need. I am super excited about this!

What advice do you have for current undergraduate students?

When I studied as an under grad I didn't delve into everything that the course and uni had to offer. So anyone studying, I'd advise you to get involved with anything you can!"

How have you navigated your academic studies up to now?

I love to learn, so I throw myself into any courses I can. Why not while you're young! Use this time to learn and be the best version of you!

How have you faced any challenges so far in your career? How have you overcome them? 

All the time, there are so many NOs, so many broken promises, but if you believe you just keep going. 

Visit facebook.com/officiallyfiaa for more information. 

Wes Burton | MA Creative Music Production

wes_burton_icmp_2020.jpg

What are you hoping to explore from studying through the scholarship?

The scholarship is a great opportunity to continue my studies in audio engineering and music production, my greatest passions in both music and life. It also brings the opportunity to shadow and learn from some of the great tutors at ICMP, and watch how they work in a professional academic environment, which will hopefully open the doors to a whole new avenue for my career.

How important has the scholarship been in helping you pursue further study?

Receiving this scholarship has been paramount in my ability to continue my studies through this masters course. With the world turned upside down by the pandemic, finding work after completing my bachelors degree in Creative Music Production at ICMP was seemingly an impossible task. Especially finding anything even remotely related to music, as we all know the industry has gone into semi-hibernation as it tries to survive. As a northerner hailing from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, it was starting to look as if I would have to return home as I simply could not afford to pay rent in London and continue studying. However, after receiving this scholarship I was lucky enough to be able to stay in London and pursue further study while continuing to look for work.

What musical projects are keeping you busy?

Continuing musical projects has been a challenge for everyone this year, but the new challenges faced with remote work has also created the opportunity for learning new skills that would never have come up in the normal world. Currently, I am the musical director and producer for the live performances of Mister Lees, a London-based artist combining the sounds of late nineties UK Garage and modern day hip hop/grime.

Throughout lockdown we created multiple live renditions of his songs from our individual homes, finding new ways to record in non ideal scenarios with only the gear each member had available. This created new challenges when arranging the songs and especially when pulling it all together in the mix. However, it was a very successful project and proved once again that anyone can create music in 2020.  

What advice do you have for current undergraduate students?

Socialise. Network. Meet People. Throughout my three year undergraduate degree I was constantly told about the importance of networking with the great musicians and producers around you at ICMP, but I didn't take this advice seriously enough. Now back again studying for my masters, my main goal above all else is to socialise and network with the great musical community.

How have you navigated your academic studies up to now?

Throughout my three years at ICMP I always tried to focus my studies on the studio engineering/mixing side of the course, as this is where my greatest passion lies within music. This has included recording many different bands and artists both within the ICMP community and the greater London music scene. This culminated in choosing to record a live studio session of my band Blank Fiction for my third year professional project.

This was the best opportunity throughout the entire course to choose to attempt something larger and more specific to what I wanted to achieve and grow my skills.

I recommend using the professional project to challenge yourself to create something greater than you would normally attempt." 

It is easy to decide to record an EP, but many people will attempt this alone at home, and it will not force them to work collaboratively with new artists, musicians, photographers, designers, etc.

How have you faced any challenges so far in your career? How have you overcome them?

The greatest challenge in my career so far has easily been finding paid work. Many people understand the need for an engineer, but are unwilling or unable to afford one, even at minimum wage! This can create a great amount of frustration, but you have to persevere. One solution is to work for free. If you believe an artist is talented, skilled and has the drive to really take their music further, working with people for free is a great way to get experience and put your name out there. However, it is still possible to find paid work, but you must believe in your ability and look for those artists slightly further along with their own careers who are willing and able to pay for your services. This can be a daunting task as you really have to put yourself out there as a “professional”, but when these chances arise, you'd be surprised at the level of knowledge and ability you can bring to the table.

Visit instagram.com/wes.burton.producer to find out more about Wes and his music.

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

Find your course
by ICMP staff writer
October 29, 2020
Back to Blog Home