This dynamic one-year programme allows you to build strong musical literacy, advanced technical guitar skills and impressive performance creativity in a short space of time, with the plan to develop into a well-versed professional portfolio musician. A highly personalised course, your studies will be centred on the guitar, as you collaborate with fellow classmates studying drums, bass, keyboards and vocals.

In the fast-evolving and increasingly digital global music industry, there are more opportunities than ever for performers and audiences to connect with each other in pioneering new ways. As well as improving your technical and creative abilities, this highly relevant performance CertHE will see you build entrepreneurial business skills and digital proficiency to set yourself up as an adaptable, competent musician and guitarist.

Become a great guitarist with ICMP in London

At the core of your CertHE is clear concentration on your primary instrument - guitar - but you’ll also expand your musical literacy as you study with and play alongside fellow CertHE drummers, bassists, vocalists and pianists. You’ll also have ongoing opportunities to connect and perform with ICMP students across other music programmes.

As you explore the breadth and depth of popular music styles, genres and repertoire, you’ll gain a solid understanding of theory, technology and technique across recorded, live and live-streamed performance scenarios. You’ll also study areas including music theory, stylistic techniques, live performance skills, music business and music technology.

On top of lectures and seminars, you’ll take part in skill sessions – both one-to-one with your ICMP guitar tutor, and during ensemble practice and collaborative workshops with your peers. Collaboration is a central focus of ICMP programmes and you’ll often have the chance to give and receive performance critiques in an ‘A&R-style’, encouraging the development of your unique identity as a guitarist.

Perfect your guitar skills with ICMP in London

During your year of education, you’ll study in ICMP’s world-class facilities, as you’re guided and supported by expert tutors. Members of our teaching faculty are all highly qualified and experienced musicians, ready to provide you with key insights into the music business and a deep understanding of the way it operates. They’ll also arrange a host of industry events for you to attend, plus masterclasses hosted by special guest musicians, networking opportunities and innovative gigs at London venues.

At the end of your CertHE, you’ll have developed excellent technical guitar skills, and impressive practical knowledge of live, recorded and virtual performances, allowing you to work successfully in multiple areas of the music business. If you’d like to continue on with your learning, the CertHE offers opportunities to progress directly to the second year of the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance and BA (Hons) Creative Musicianship degrees, where you can gain extra experience for your career as a professional guitarist and portfolio musician.

Fees & Funding

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

Course Fees Information | Programme Specification | Programme Handbook

Click to view the full terms and conditions of applying to study at ICMP.

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Successful completion of the CertHE Popular Music Performance (Guitar) course leads to the award of Certificate of Higher Education by The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.


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Key facts

  • An innovative one-year course acknowledging the fast-moving global music scene as it explores recorded, live and digital performance scenarios.
  • Gain a personalised learning experience with regular one-to-one sessions from ICMP’s expert guitar tutors.
  • Understand the demands and requirements of being a modern professional guitarist through engaging with a range of industry scenarios.
  • Develop a strong foundation in music theory skills and modern guitar techniques necessary for the emerging professional performer.
  • Explore your identity as a unique guitarist with activities and projects that support both solo and collaborative opportunities.
  • Expand your musicianship and employability skills across a variety of popular music styles and genres.
  • Learn entrepreneurial skills that enhance your portfolio career opportunities, as you study the modern music industry and your place in it.
  • Develop an impressive portfolio of recordings and performance work to promote yourself to the wider industry.
  • Study alongside other instrumentalists who you will collaborate with throughout the duration of the course.
  • Perform at London music industry venues and access a comprehensive musical network.
  • Advance to the second year of an ICMP undergraduate degree upon successful course completion.
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Course Ambassador


Ace is the Guitarist and Songwriter for UK Rock Band Skunk Anansie and is the course ambassador for the CertHE guitar. 


Spanning a career of 28 years and still going strong, the band have sold 6 million physical LPs, command millions of streams and have toured the world with bands such as U2, Rammstein, Muse, Lenny Kravitz and Bon Jovi as well as playing their own sell out shows.


Ace has also simultaneously spent over 25 years in Music Education working and collaborating with all the major institutions and their students in the UK and Europe. He also holds an MA from Middlesex University based in music Education. At ICMP he is Head of Industry Partnerships and Business Development where he develops and manages the brand partnerships as well as the creative relationships for their international partner schools.


Course details

Across the one-year CertHE, you’ll develop your technical abilities and performance skills on the guitar, while discovering digital music technologies and gaining a strong sense of how the contemporary music business works. With your classmates, you’ll cover topics including soundscaping, guitar effects, creating parts for producers and reading chord charts. You’ll also start to identify your strengths and personality as a guitarist, as you advance your talents to the high standard the industry expects.

live performance skills

​In this practical module, you’ll build your core stylistic and stagecraft skills essential for an industry-standard performance. You will explore a range of popular music genres, including Pop and R&B, while developing your own sound, style and presence. You'll develop a deeper understanding of performance by critically analysing a variety of performances, including your own, and applying this to aid your own development. In addition to performance, stage presence and musical direction, this will be your opportunity to learn about and practice using performance technology such as in-ear monitoring (IEM) and click tracks. By the end of this module, you will have significantly increased your confidence and ability as a performer.

  • Stagecraft skills for guitar 
  • Rehearsal techniques for guitarists
  • Stylistic repertoire 
  • Live performance technology 
  • In-person and recorded performance skills for guitarists 
  • Communication skills for performances 
  • Working within the rhythm section
  • Working with other guitarists in an ensemble
  • Backing vocals
  • Using backing tracks in performances


During this module, you’ll acquire the academic knowledge and practical guitar training to perform, arrange and record music in a range of popular styles and genres. To enhance your technique, classes are a combination of seminars, one-to-one guitar tuition and collaborative skill sessions with peers. You’ll build an understanding of core music theory and music notation, as you cultivate key skills in sight-reading/sight-singing to elevate your performance technique. Using industry-standard music technology, such as digital audio workstations (DAWs), keyboards and music notation software, you’ll explore the ways in which new tools can enhance performances.

  • Fretboard fluidity
  • Rhythm and lead guitar skills
  • Composing and understanding guitar parts
  • Basic keyboard skills
  • Fundamentals of music theory
  • Chart reading and interpretation
  • Stylistic awareness
  • Music technology essentials
  • Music notation software
  • Digital audio workstations


Extending your previous study in Theory, Technique and Technology, this module advances your knowledge and skills in guitar techniques and music theory to the next level. Combining practice-as-research philosophies, ongoing one-to-one sessions with your tutor, and critical thinking skills, you’ll develop an impressive command and knowledge of the guitar. You’ll also expand your music notation and keyboard abilities by using industry-standard music technology and software, as you arrange and record music spanning more elaborate styles and genres.

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

music business for performers

​In this module, you will dissect the music industry and gain an understanding of how the different sectors impact the creative industries. You will use case studies, peer discussion and seminars to examine industry structures and functions like revenue flow, music copyright and the inter-relationship between the key areas of music. A successful portfolio career is key to longevity in the music industry; you will explore the variety of roles within the industry, as well as ways that you can diversify your income. This module will also provide you with the skills you need to set up, maintain and navigate social media as a DIY artist.

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

performance and identity

During this module, you'll explore your identity through performance, focusing specifically on current music practices and popular music styles like Pop, R&B and Afrobeats. You'll delve into the essence of performance and have the opportunity to debate concepts including stardom and fandom, identity, stage personas and stage presence. Informed by your own research, group discussion and reasoning, you will be able to present yourself and your artistry before a panel of your peers. By experimenting with different industry-aligned approaches to documenting and sharing practice, such as vlogs, video, audio and blogs, you will expand your critical analysis skills, inquiry skills and academic research. Ultimately, this module will allow you to  come face-to-face with yourselves as musicians, artists and performers and embark on an experience of your individual artistry.

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


During your time on the CertHE, you’ll be taught at our campus in London’s Kilburn and will regularly use our in-house music studio facilities, live rooms and tech suites, as well as classrooms and lecture rooms. As an ICMP student, you’ll have access to this equipment outside of class hours so you can rehearse and record your own music in your own time.

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

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

Teaching and Learning

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

Throughout your year of study, you'll be in timetabled teaching activities, such as lectures, seminars, practical classes and workshops, for typically 15 hours a week. You’ll also have personalised one-to-one tutorials scheduled throughout the year.


Modules are assessed through a variety of means, including practical exams and performance, submission of course work, projects, examinations and essays. 


CertHE Popular Music Performance (Guitar) course applicants will typically have A-levels, a BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, or an International Baccalaureate equivalent to 48 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 attend an audition/interview.  

UCAS code 316GUni code i25


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. 


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020 7328 0222

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