Interview: Rosario Mawby

Our BMus Deputy Programme Leader talks about the skills new musicians need to develop to enjoy successful careers...

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As a performer, academic and now Deputy Programme Leader on ICMP's BMus in Popular Music Performance course, Rosario Mawby has enjoyed an exciting and varied musical career. 

She's performed with the likes of Ian Matthews of Kasabian and Queen musician Neil Fairclough while undertaking extensive research into best practice around the voice and singing. Following a successful year with the BMus programme, Rosario will be helping MMus students as a 1:1 tutor from September.

Ahead of the new academic year, we caught up with Rosario to learn more about her time with us, this new role and her advice for performers looking to launch industry careers... 

How did you get involved with ICMP?  

I saw a job advertised, knew some of the tutors already, and wanted to be part of an innovative environment. Everyone at ICMP seemed to love what they’re doing.  

The first year has been amazing. I’ve found new friends, work colleagues and loved the opportunity so far.  

How have your experiences with the BMus in Popular Music Performance students been?  

As Deputy Programme Leader, it’s been a great experience, especially developing the relationship we have with our students. BMus students are at various points in their careers, some starting out, others are already professionals who need more advice and guidance. Many are performers wanting to improve on their instruments and expand their technical proficiency.  

No matter what stage they’re at, we have a very open and honest relationship with all our students. We’ve worked hard to make sure they feel able to speak to us about any concerns, especially in a year like the one we’ve been through."  

What are the skills and characteristics you want to encourage in music students?  

Resilience is important. The industry can be relentless at times. Education is a safe and nurturing environment which allows them to make mistakes before entering their chosen profession, so beginning to build resilience will help protect them from the reality of the high expectations that await them. 

Another is versatility. We want our students to become professional musicians, whatever that might be. I think it’s important that they leave us with the skills to enjoy a portfolio career straight away. 

The tutors at ICMP are good examples of this portfolio approach. We’re all practitioners and we all enjoy our performance careers. But we’re also in education and want to share our knowledge.  

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Are there any common easily fixable pitfalls you see musicians experiencing?  

Practice is a key one. Many of us love doing what we do but that doesn’t mean we rehearse or work on things in the correct manner.  

So I think approaching your music with diligence and treating it like a work routine is important. Practice doesn’t mean being on your instrument 24/7, there’s also theoretical knowledge too, perhaps thinking about harmony, how you work in the context of a band or how you get gig ready.  

You almost need to look at yourself as a product and sometimes the students that come to us are purely focused on playing. These days there’s more to being a professional musician than just being good on your instrument.   

Could you talk about your new role on the MMus programme? What will this involve?  

I’m really excited to be working on the MMus programme. It will be a first for me to do 1:1 sessions at ICMP. I’ve done a little post-grad teaching before but I’m looking forward to building relationships with MMus students as I have done with the BMus students.  

Most postgraduate students have been through three previous years of study so they’re at an interesting stage in their careers and educational lives in terms of finding their specialist interests. I’d like to be a part of that journey.  

I remember with my own study, I had a very close relationship with my 1:1 tutor. I’m hoping to develop something similar with our students. 

What have you learned from working with industry professionals like Ian Matthews of Kasabian or Queen musician Neil Fairclough?   

These people are fantastic players, enjoyed great careers but they’re so modest. They enjoy every gig just as much as the next, whether it be at Wembley or doing gigs with a function band.  

They are also lovely people to be around and they get these gigs as they’re brilliant players but also great to hang out with too.

If you’re on a tour bus, you spend a lot of time with each other. Being a professional musician is about more than just being a good player - it’s everything else that goes with it too including your social skills."  

Neil Fairclough came in for a masterclass last year with Andy Treacey and Dom Brown. Neil was his normal self with the students and performed with them just as enthusiastically as he does on stage with Queen.  

In terms of my career, working with musicians of this calibre is great too. It pushes you to think and up your musical game.  

Do you have any advice for new starters joining ICMP this September?  

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.  

Communication with your programme leader is important too. We can probably help in most cases. It’s important we can do this in times of crisis like this year. I’m proud of how we’ve engaged with our students during this time.  

What else is keeping you busy alongside ICMP?  

I manage a performing arts academy for younger children to inspire them to hopefully continue their education within music, giving them opportunities they may not normally have.  

I was a part of a touring Motown show which isn’t happening now obviously and soon to front another Motown show sometime next year.  

I’ve just finished my second masters and the next project is taking the research further. I’ve done some conferences earlier this year, presented at the British Voice Association with Lucinda Allen (Teaching Fellow in Vocals) - we’re looking at hopefully formalising a voice rest policy for students and further research into vocal health care in education. That’s important to us.  

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.

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by Jim Ottewill
September 8, 2020
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