Studying music in London: Essential advice

Our new Student President Nick Gauntlett gives us his top tips on preparing for life as a student at ICMP...


Any London music student will probably agree that studying music in London throws up plenty of opportunities and the occasional challenge. 

So with the new academic year getting ever closer, we caught up with our new Student President Nick Gauntlett to learn more about his top tips for anyone attending ICMP for the first time this September. From budgeting to what to bring, check out his essential advice below... 

What would be your top tip for anyone starting at ICMP this September?

Speak to people! It’s often said that your career can be made by being in the right place at the right time, but you can make that happen through having the contacts. You will be surrounded by loads of musicians at ICMP - take advantage. Almost every big opportunity I have had has come from a friend or through word of mouth. 

How can you best prepare for university life? 

Try and get into a routine - routine is the key to university life. The more you can automate, the more space and time you have to think about important things." 

Having that routine in place will help you to juggle all the stuff you will need to do. Additionally, practice hard and get your chops up, they will come in handy! 

Are there any things you wish you’d known before starting? 

One thing in particular is the sheer amount of things to do - it is exciting but potentially overwhelming. Among your social life, forming projects and joining bands, lectures and coursework, it is important to keep in mind the reason why you are here are and why you started playing music. Clarity of purpose will propel you forward in the right direction. 

Furthermore, sleep is a lot more important than I initially thought when I was in first year. I have had much more success from prioritising my eight hours over doing a mediocre job on three. Additionally, be open minded, consider all the possibilities you have available to you and then choose the few that speak to you - less is more!

Make your education and your career through your own design, not by the default circumstances which come your way." 

Are there any do’s and don’ts you associate with your first week? 

Try not to drink too much and make a fool of yourself! It is an easy thing to do - speaking from experience. Also, don't come in with too many preconceptions about the university experience - take it as it is. Some parts of the course will speak more to you than others - focus on those. It is also good to discern the tutors you really like and make friends - you will find the social barriers between student and teacher here aren't massive. I found I have gained a lot from my friendships with certain tutors! 

Have you any advice around budgeting/looking after your finances?

I’m still working on that one. The minimalist approach often brings the greatest success in this area.

Gandhi had less than 10 items in his possession when he died and I've read that Steve Jobs only had a bed and a laptop in his room. I'm not suggesting something that extreme is necessary, but an injection of the minimalist perspective into my life has really helped my bank balance." 

With that said, eat well so you don't die, and as painful as it is, keep track of your expenditure. I use an app called 'Money Manager' for Android which is free and has a really intuitive design. I also make a habit of checking my bank balance every morning - keeps my splurging impulses in check!

What essential items do you need to take with you to university? 

Your instrument. Manuscript paper and a pencil is useful for theory lessons. Additionally, some sort of note taking utensil would be good - be it a tablet, phone, or even pen and paper. If you have a laptop, that can be useful. A USB stick for computer-based work is also helpful (although worse-case scenario, you can always Google Drive/Dropbox/Wesendit to yourself). Oh, and headphones/earphones are essential for production lessons. They also help with the mundane commuting experience. 

Have you got tips on orientating yourself and creating your student networks?

Be genuine. The idea of being a 'yes man' is often praised in institutions such as this, however I don't always think it is always the most rewarding path to take. Network with as many people as possible, but only take on the opportunities that really speak to you. You will gain more respect for being selective than you will for doing everything that comes your way. Ultimately, if cultivate your reputation as a genuine, rather than a contrived 'do it all' musician, you will attract other like-minded people and have a good time playing and studying music!

Still looking for more info? Read our #ICMPSpotlight blog on why London is the best place in the world to study music

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.

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by ICMP staff writer
September 5, 2018
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