COURSE OVERVIEW

This dynamic and distinctly forward-looking degree will provide you with the playing, performing, technical and theoretical skills you need for a career as a professional portfolio musician in today’s ever-changing music industry.  

 

Our fast-moving and increasingly digital world has seen many opportunities for the modern music industry to evolve recently, bringing performers, musicians, audiences and music lovers together in exciting new ways. This programme embraces the context of the global music revolution, allowing you to focus intensely on your instrument of choice while gaining innovative business and technology skills that will truly set you apart after graduation.  

At the core of your BMus degree is your principal instrument – guitar, bass, drums or vocals. Through research and analysis of established genres, styles and repertoire, you’ll develop a broad, comprehensive understanding of genre conventions, so you’re set up to succeed in a wide range of performance scenarios – whether live, livestreamed or recorded.  

You’ll develop outstanding technical skills on your primary instrument, with regular one-on-one instrumental tuition with your ICMP tutors across all three years of your degree, plus you’ll be encouraged to explore a foundation in keyboard skills. Unique opportunities are available within the ICMP community to direct bands, ensembles and choirs,  ensuring you become a well-rounded, technically accomplished musician who can work across multiple musical environments and contexts. 

The degree covers a full spectrum of learning opportunities in areas such as performance, stylistic techniques, music technology, music theory, arranging and composing, session skills, recording, musical theatre, teaching and business skills. Across your three years, you’ll participate in a combination of lectures and seminars, workshops, practice-based sessions, self-directed learning and, of course, your highly personalised one-to-one tuition. A practice-as-research philosophy underpins all theoretical, practical and academic modules, with demonstration of practice-based learning and understanding in assessment tasks.   

Members of our highly esteemed ICMP teaching faculty will provide you with significant knowledge of the internal workings of the music industry through the delivery of regular masterclasses, industry events and networking opportunities, along with exposure to a wide range of guest lecturers and emerging artists. 

A key focus of the degree is collaboration – through live performance workshops, you’ll develop a strong camaraderie with your fellow BMus students, be inspired to network, create projects with students from other ICMP programmes, and receive personalised instrumental feedback. 

By the time you graduate with ICMP, you’ll be fluent in the language of popular music, capable of working in creative and collaborative music business environments, and ready to explore exciting industry pathways to begin your professional career. You’ll also leave us with an impressive professional portfolio of work you can present to the industry as evidence of your performance talents. 

Fees & Funding
Taking a music course at ICMP makes financial sense too, with the fees for ICMP music courses significantly less than those at many traditional universities, and, also much lower than other UK music education providers - making studying music at ICMP in London great value as well as great fun.

Course Fees: UK Students | EU/EEA/International Students

Full Fees Information | Full Programme Specification  

uel-logo-uel-blue.png

Successful completion of the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance at ICMP Music College leads to the award of Bachelor of Music by the University of East London.

Redesigned and Revalidated in 2021
This course has recently gone through a redesign process with our validating partner UEL, making it one of the most current Music Production degree courses in the UK. Please visit https://www.icmp.ac.uk/study-at-icmp/2021-course-redesign for further detail on why we periodically redesign our courses and the benefits this has to you as an ICMP student.

 

UCAS CODES

Key facts

  • A cutting-edge degree that acknowledges the changing global music scene and encourages a blend of both in-person and digital performance opportunities.
  • Experience personalised, tailored learning as you gain the skills and knowledge to graduate as a versatile professional musician.
  • Develop advanced instrumental techniques and exceptional music literacy.
  • Learn how the modern music industry operates as you work towards the launch of a professional portfolio career.
  • Enhance your musicianship across a diverse range of popular music styles and genres.
  • Develop your unique identity as a performer through structured weekly individual and collaborative activities.
  • A high level of contact teaching hours, delivered in small groups in world-class facilities.
  • Benefit from regular one-to-one sessions with expert ICMP instrument tutors each year.
  • Build an impressive portfolio of performance work to use when you graduate.
  • Connections with the wider music industry enables you to build an enviable musical network.
  • Being located in London provides opportunities to perform in gigs at top city venues, while immersing yourself in the global music scene.
  • Apply Now

Student Stories

Peter Napper

Guitarist Peter speaks about how the course has pushed his playing and what London offers to musicians.

COURSE DETAILS

Year 1 (Level 4)

Year 2 (Level 5)

Year 3 (Level 6)

During the first year of this performance-focused degree, you’ll develop your performance abilities, instrument technical skills and digital music technology knowledge. You’ll also gain a strong foundation in musical literacy and an understanding of the way the music business relates to your performance career. Studying these fundamentals of music builds a solid base for further study while allowing you to begin recognising your strengths and identity as a professional performer and progressing your talents to an industry-standard level.    

Live Performance Skills

During this highly practical module, you’ll develop the stylistic and stagecraft skills you need for ensemble performances across different styles of popular music. Working with your primary instrument or voice, you’ll also explore a secondary discipline – either instrumental or vocal. An important part of this module is receiving and contributing to performance feedback and implementing this in your performances to help with your development. By the end of the module, you’ll have completed a performance portfolio and gained practical experience creating backing tracks, performing to a click track, exploring backing vocals and using industry-standard music technology like in-ear monitors.    

  • In-person and recorded performance skills 
  • Stagecraft skills
  • Rehearsal techniques 
  • Stylistic repertoire 
  • Performing to backing tracks 
  • Ensemble performance  
  • Communication skills 
  • Live performance technology 
  • Backing vocals 
  • Vocal arrangement skills  
  • Acapella vocals 

Theory, Technique and Technology

This module will give you the theoretical and practical skills to perform, arrange and record music across a wide range of popular styles and genres. You’ll be introduced to the foundations of music theory and music notation, as you develop basic skills in sight-reading/sight-singing to further enhance your performance abilities. You’ll also cover the fundamentals of music technology and its application in popular music performance, including the use of music notation software, digital audio workstations (DAWs) and keyboards. The format of this module will see you undertake seminars, instrument-specific classes and one-to-one sessions to support your development.   

  • Fundamentals of music theory  
  • Music technology essentials 
  • Music notation 
  • Technical instrument skills 
  • Basic keyboard skills 
  • Stylistic awareness 
  • Sight-reading/sight-singing 
  • Digital audio workstations 

Theory, Technique and Technology II

Building on the previous module – Theory, Technique and Technology – this module extends your existing skills in music theory and music technology to a deeper level. You’ll continue to perform, arrange and record music across genres, incorporating a variety of more challenging styles of popular music. You’ll also further your keyboard and notation skills using industry-standard music technology, such as music notation software. Through study and analysis of music theory, combined with in-depth practice and one-to-one sessions with an expert tutor, you’ll develop impressive advanced instrumental/vocal skills. 

  • Music theory  
  • Musical literacy 
  • Music technology  
  • Arrangement skills 
  • Technical instrument skills 
  • Keyboard skills 
  • Digital audio workstations  

Music Business for Performers

To build a successful portfolio career in the music industry, you’ll need to have a thorough grasp of how the modern creative industries could shape your future career. This module will introduce you to the core structures and functions of today’s music industry, examining current industry models, processes and practices so you can recognise how creative practitioners and businesses interact. The module provides an understanding of music copyright, plus insight into revenue flow and the inter-relationships between key music industry areas. You’ll take part in seminars, peer discussions and case studies to build a solid understanding of the music business. 

  • Overview of the modern music industry  
  • Recorded music 
  • Live music  
  • Music publishing
  • Professional music industry membership organisations 
  • Trade bodies and collection societies
  • The role of artist management  
  • The A&R process 
  • Music marketing and promotion  
  • Sales and distribution
  • Music rights and royalties
  • The transformation of the music industry 
  • Future music industry developments 

Performance and Identity

In this module, you’ll study a range of popular music performance approaches and contextualise these within established music cultures and practices. You’ll also explore how these concepts influence the choices you might make as a practitioner in the future, as you investigate theories such as stage personas, stardom and fandom, identity, sexuality and the auteur. You’ll build research and inquiry skills and be introduced to key approaches of documenting your practice, such as video, blogs, audio and vlogs. Your comprehensive new capabilities in reflection will allow you to move beyond the descriptive into analysis, evaluation and action planning to strengthen your future performances. 

  • The wider cultural contexts of performance 
  • Popular music performance theories 
  • Documenting practice in rehearsals, performances and workshops  
  • Approaches to documenting performances  
  • Video, audio, blogs and vlogs 
  • Using documentation to refine or influence performances   
  • The influence of context on decision making 

In your second year, you’ll focus more deeply on the music industry and the direction you’d like your music career to take. You’ll cover music technology and music theory at a more advanced level, basing your performances and study on a practice-as-research approach. Delving into more advanced techniques, you’ll start to critically reflect on your ‘identity’ and adjust how you perform, whether in-person or virtually.   

Live Performance Industries

This module focuses on a range of professional performance scenarios encountered in the music industry, including musical direction, professional entertainment and corporate entertainment. You’ll progress your skills by performing and arranging music in a variety of genres, with a focus on stagecraft, styling, professional etiquette, performance authenticity and self-reflection. Working to creative briefs, you’ll develop set lists, and perform set repertoire by applying arrangement techniques such as segues and medleys. During the module, you’ll also gain ensemble communication skills and learn tips for how best to connect with your audience. 

  • Stagecraft 
  • Setlists  
  • Performance agencies and agents
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Styling and aesthetics
  • Set repertoire 
  • Ensemble performance 
  • Arrangement skills 
  • Communication skills 
  • Collaboration  
  • Working to a brief 

Applied Theory and Technique

This module continues to consolidate and enhance your practical abilities through a comprehensive study of music notation, music theory and general session skills. You’ll see weekly improvement on your primary instrument as you develop your capability to identify, create, improvise and assimilate musical information while enhancing your performance and sight-reading skills. As you build your technical and theoretical authority, you’ll learn to apply your understanding and research through practical demonstrations that showcase your own musical goals and areas of interest. One-to-one stylistic technique classes and session skills workshops will help cultivate a wide range of talents you’ll need for your future portfolio career. 

  • Advanced music theory 
  • Instrumental/vocal skills  
  • Application of style and technique 
  • Improvisation 
  • Sight-reading/sight-singing 
  • Stylistic authenticity 
  • One-to-one stylistic technique sessions 
  • Performance practice  
  • Digital audio workstations  
  • Music notation software  

The Reflective Musician

This highly personalised module focuses on the ambitions and objectives of your future portfolio music career while using research-based methodologies to improve your musicianship. You’ll explore techniques, genres and repertoire relevant to your musical interests and developing identity. Through one-to-one sessions with your expert tutors, you’ll develop the ability to recognise weaknesses in your performances and work together to address these through goal setting and critical reflection. You’ll apply theoretical concepts to your work and relate previous study to your future professional targets as you build a reflective portfolio – a creative body of work that showcases your improved technical development. 

  • Professional development 
  • Harmonic analysis   
  • Stylistic analysis 
  • Objective setting  
  • Critical reflection  
  • Self-directed practice 
  • Research skills 

Arranging and Composing

In this module, you’ll focus on practical and industry-based experience, building skills in structuring and refining musical material. You’ll continue to develop your general musicianship, musical vocabulary and articulation while gaining an awareness of varied music practices through the study of professional composition and arranging techniques and principles. As you experience the creation, organisation, articulation, processing and production of a series of real-world briefs, you’ll apply your theoretical knowledge and understanding in a practical way. This module draws together key elements of the creative sector of the music industry with technology and mixed media use. 

  • Composition and arranging techniques 
  • Core instrumentation concepts 
  • Orchestration vocabulary 
  • Musical analysis 
  • Music software and sample use 
  • Composing for film
  • Commercial arranging in a contemporary context  
  • Scoring  
  • Critical judgement
  • Working to a commercial brief
  • Presentation skills 

Recording Skills

Building on your learning from first-year Theory, Technique and Technology modules, this optional programme equips you with skills to record and produce music remotely and in a home studio setup. Confidently navigating an ever-changing global marketplace in music recording, you’ll build business skills and learn how to identify potential business opportunities in a fast-moving digital world. You’ll focus on both theoretical and practical abilities – from using remote recording technology to online entrepreneurship – developing tools to meet the demands of this evolving professional field. You’ll capture your instrument to a professional standard and quality using everything from professional DAWs to mobile phones. 

  • Music recording technology and techniques 
  • Professional home studio setup 
  • Arranging techniques 
  • Collaborative software and file sharing 
  • Audio files management 
  • Remote music production marketplace
  • Client-focused performance 
  • Delivering a musical product to a creative brief 

In the final year of your degree, your experience will be highly personalised and self-directed. The focus of this year is to prepare you to launch your career as a portfolio musician, and you’ll further refine and critically assess your performances, playing and musical identity. The modules in your final year encourage you to follow your passions, fine-tuning and sharpening your skills so you’re ready to take your chosen place in the modern music industry. 

Industry Performance Standards

This module focuses on preparing you for the wide variety of professional performance scenarios – both live and online – that you’re likely to encounter in your professional career.  

With regular input from industry guests to simulate a range of professional performance opportunities, you’ll work to industry briefs across a variety of genres, interpreting charts and scores and preparing challenging material quickly in line with industry expectations. Workshops will focus on learning how to respond to direction and make changes to your performance based on a musical director’s vision – an essential skill for a promising professional performer. 

  • Stagecraft and performance  
  • Choreography and movement 
  • Interpreting charts and scores 
  • Live music technology 
  • Working to a brief 
  • Critical self-reflection 
  • Personal and professional development 

Professional Identity

This year-long module supports you to fully professionalise your individual playing identity, as you extend your technical and academic skills by completing a music-related creative project of your choice. You’ll have the opportunity to perform, create and re-create music at an advanced level in various real-world and simulated professional scenarios and environments. This intense practice will deepen your outlook, knowledge and professional delivery, as you strive to make your unique voice heard. In creating and delivering your projects, you’ll also build a range of transferable skills in communication, negotiation, project planning and management. 

  • How to develop a project proposal 
  • Presentation and communication skills 
  • Research methods and enquiry 
  • Professional music-making approaches and techniques
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Musical problem solving 
  • Effective planning and pitching 
  • Interdisciplinary practice 
  • Self-management skills
  • Defining research parameters
  • Documentation and analysis of practice
  • Integration of process and product 

Advance Composition Skills (Optional)

This optional module develops advanced composition and arranging skills in real-world contexts for film, media and live performances. You’ll hone industry-standard skills and techniques thanks to direct experience creating a high-level recorded portfolio, which is developed using original concepts and covers a range of contemporary music styles and genres. You’ll be encouraged to experiment with your personal creativity and style, both with and without constraints, within well-known frameworks of method and technique. Through technical, theoretical, analytical and practical work, you’ll deliver and critically reflect on your composition portfolio for film/mixed media and live ensemble. 

  • Advanced orchestration and instrumentation 
  • Composition concepts 
  • Arrangement techniques
  • Developing ideas and concepts in composition 
  • Cohesion in music 
  • Professional scoring
  • Developing autonomy 
  • Collaborative project work
  • Preparing for live performance 
  • Commercial contemporary composition
  • Musical direction skills 
  • Music for film

Music in Education (Optional)

Skills in education and teaching are a shrewd addition to any modern musician’s portfolio career. In this optional module, you’ll explore ways to apply your instrument/vocal knowledge and technical abilities in a range of teaching scenarios and settings. You’ll gain insight into ways your students might learn new knowledge or skills, and how to support, enable and monitor progress. You’ll design programmes of study and explore creative assessment methods to motivate and engage your learners. You’ll also undertake placements and observations, giving you the opportunity to experience specific educational practitioner roles which will help formulate your individual teaching style. 

  • Teaching observation 
  • Safeguarding 
  • Teaching planning and assessment 
  • Behaviour management 
  • Contemporary theory of education in practice 
  • The psychology of learning 
  • Diversity and inclusion in special educational needs 
  • Critical reflection 

Music and the Stage

This advanced module will develop your performance skills for musical theatre and the stage. You’ll learn tools to combine your professional technique with deeper levels of connection to a narrative and the emotional journey that’s expected by the theatre industry. The module focuses on a psychological and physical connection to music – using different musical contexts and professional scenarios. You’ll be encouraged to explore and challenge traditional conventions relating to musical theatre, and balance expected professional standards with modern innovative approaches. You’ll explore a wide range of areas in musical theatre and be pushed to unlock higher levels of stage performance. 

  • Musical theatre 
  • Performance for the stage 
  • Context and narrative within music 
  • Musical intention in performance
  • Stage performance styles in multiple contexts
  • Breaking down the barriers between instrument specialisms 
  • Body language and space in relation to narrative for stage  
  • Choreographed style and story movement 
  • Technique and emotion for performance delivery 
  • Communication with ensembles, audiences and musical directors
  • Advanced stage performance for instruments/vocals

TEACHING, LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT

You’ll be taught at our campus in Kilburn and will regularly use our live rooms, tech suites and in-house music studio facilities, as well as classrooms and lecture rooms. While you’re a student at ICMP, you’ll have access to these facilities outside of class time so you can rehearse and record your own music. 

You’ll learn via a variety of teaching and learning methods, including lectures, small group tutorials, performance workshops, music technology workshops tutorials and one-to-one instrumental tuition. 

You’ll have access to the Student Services Department for support and advice if you have any questions about welfare, finance, personal development, safeguarding, or more. You'll also have access to our Professional Development team – ‘The Hub’ – who provide bespoke music industry careers advice and will offer you unique industry opportunities. 

As a student of UEL, you’ll also enjoy access to a range of UEL facilities, including the 24/7 multimedia libraries which contain over 300,000 books, journals, audio-visual resources and archives, 500 electronic books and 25,000 electronic journals and databases.

Teaching and Learning

On the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance programme, your learning will be in small mixed groups for seminars and writing classes and small workshop groups for practical skills. Some lectures are in larger groups. 
 
When not attending lectures, seminars or other timetabled sessions, you'll be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, and preparing coursework assignments. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities, including our Learning Resource Centre, our many performance and practice rooms, and well-equipped tech suites. 

Throughout the duration of your course your time will be split as follows:

Teaching hours per week
Semester A • Year 1: 12hrs | Year 2: 12hrs | Year 3: 7hrs
Semester B • Year 1: 12hrs | Year 2:  12hrs  | Year 3: 7hrs

Total Teaching, Learning and Assessment hours per year
Year 1: 288hrs | Year 2: 288hrs | Year 3: 168hrs

Total self-study hours per year
Year 1: 912hrs | Year 2: 912hrs | Year 3: 1032hrs

Assessment

Your knowledge and thinking will be assessed through coursework, essays, project work, examinations and presentations. Your practical skills will be assessed through live performance, practical examinations and recorded portfolios. Your skills for life and work will be assessed through project work, group work and portfolios. Modules are assessed through a variety of means, including practical exams and performance, coursework, projects, examinations, essays and viva voce.

The assessment breakdown of this programme is:

Year 1: 17% Written | 66% Practical | 17% Coursework
Year 2: 50% Practical | 50% Coursework
Year 3: 33% Practical | 67% Coursework

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Applicants will typically have A levels, BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, or International Baccalaureate equivalent to 80 UCAS points, or an ICMP Higher Diploma.

In addition, you should hold a GCSE Grade C or 4 or above in English, or suitable equivalent, such as Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Adult Literacy/Numeracy.

We also welcome applications from mature applicants who may have no formal qualifications but can demonstrate their suitability for study through appropriate skills and experience.

International students will typically hold a relevant equivalent qualification, please check your qualification with our Admissions team. In addition, you should hold a relevant English language qualification equivalent to CEFR Level B2.

All applicants will be invited to audition/interview

UCAS code W315Uni code i25

HOW TO APPLY

 Please apply via  the "APPLY NOW" link  below.

At any time during the application process if you need help or further advice just contact our Admissions team who will be happy to assist you. 



By phone:
020 7328 0222

By email:
enquiries@icmp.ac.uk

or

Just a few of our tutors

Charlotte HatherleyGuitar

Charlotte is a singer, guitarist, keyboardist and film/theatre composer who came to prominence as guitarist for alternative rock band Ash. Since leaving Ash in 2006, she has been an eclectic and acclaimed solo artist. As a touring musician, she has performed extensively with artists including Bryan Ferry, Bat For Lashes, KT Tunstall and Birdy. Most recently Charlotte has...
Charlotte Hatherley | Guitar Tutor | ICMP London

Dave Troke Bass

Bass tutor Dave Troke has worked with many of the industry's biggest names including Spice Girls, Professor Green and John Newman. His experiences and reliability as a player means he's not not only gracing some of the biggest live stages but also played with a huge list of clients in other settings including Josh Groban, Tulisa, Donna Summer, Joshua Radin, Andrea Bocelli and Tiffany Page.
Dave Troke | Bass Tutor | ICMP London

Barbara AmoakoheneVocal

Barbara Amoakohene is a vocalist and educator with ten years’ experience teaching and singing professionally. As a session singer, choir leader, and studio manager, Barbara has a unique and personal approach, with a keen interest in personal and professional development. Barbara graduated with honours from the BMus degree in Popular Music Performance in 2007. Since then she...
Barbara Amoakohene | Vocals | ICMP Music School London

Jon HarrisDrums

Jon Harris is a highly regarded London-based session player and tutor with many years of experience in the industry. His credits include Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Odyssey, Eban Brown (The Stylistics), Roachford, Ebony Bones, Circus VIII and support tours with The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Incognito, The Feeling and regular studio work with Guy Chambers. Jon is currently...
Jon Harris | Drums Tutor | ICMP London

Lucinda AllenVocal

Lucinda Allen is a successful voice and singing coach in both the creative and corporate sectors. Since gaining a Distinction at Masters level in the ‘Practice of Voice and Singing’, she has worked with many accomplished individuals and organizations. She has since gone on to work with performers from West End shows such as Wicked, Legally Blonde, and The Lion King to individuals such as Grammy Award winner Lalah Hathaway.
Lucinda Allen | Vocal Tutor | ICMP London

Bobby HarrisonGuitar

Bobby Harrison has worked as a touring and studio guitarist with Sir Cliff Richard, Brian May, Bonnie Tyler, The Lighthouse Family, Westlife, Michael Kamen, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, as well as Brit Floyd, The Australian Pink Floyd Show and the hit musicals We Will Rock You and The Rocky Horror Show. With more than 30 years of experience playing many styles of music, Bobby has...
Bobby Harrison | Guitar Tutor | ICMP London