This dynamic one-year course allows you to develop strong technical bass skills, musical literacy and performance creativity in a short space of time, with the view to becoming a well-rounded professional portfolio musician. A highly tailored programme, you’ll focus intensely on the bass, while collaborating with peers who are studying guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals.  

In a rapidly evolving and increasingly digital global music scene, there are more opportunities than ever before for performers and audiences to come together in innovative new ways. In addition to technical and creative abilities, this highly current performance CertHE allows you to build entrepreneurial business skills and digital proficiency that will set you up as a flexible and competent bass player and musician. 

Play bass at ICMP in London

At the core of your CertHE is a focus on your principal instrument - bass - yet you’ll expand your musical literacy by studying with and playing alongside fellow CertHE guitar, keyboard, drum and vocal musicians. You’ll have regular opportunities to collaborate with these CertHE peers, as well as students across all other ICMP programmes.  

Exploring a range of popular music repertoire, styles and genres, you’ll gain a firm understanding of theory, technique and technology for live, recorded and live-streamed performance scenarios. You’ll also cover topics including live performance skills, stylistic techniques, music theory, music technology and music business. 

In addition to seminars and lectures, you’ll participate in regular skill sessions – both one-to-one with your ICMP bass tutor, and during collaborative workshops and ensemble practice with peers. A key focus at ICMP is collaboration and ‘A&R-style’ peer feedback, so you’ll frequently give and receive performance critiques to help you develop your unique identity as a bassist.   

Perfect your bass skills with ICMP

Across your year of learning, you’ll be taught in ICMP’s high-tech industry-standard facilities and guided by our expert tutors, who are all highly experienced music industry professionals, providing you with a deep understanding of the modern music industry. They’ll also arrange for you to attend regular industry events, networking opportunities, performances at London venues, and masterclasses hosted by special guest artists. 

Upon completing the CertHE, you’ll have gained exceptional bass technical skills, combined with strong live, recorded and online performance know-how, allowing you to work successfully across multiple areas of today’s music business. If you’d prefer to continue with your studies, the programme offers a direct pathway to the second year of the BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance and BA (Hons) Creative Musicianship degrees, where you can further establish your career as a professional bass player and portfolio musician.

Fees & Funding

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

Course Fees | 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 (Bass) 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 foundation course that recognises the evolving global music scene and promotes recorded, live and digital performance scenarios.
  • Receive personalised learning via regular one-on-one sessions with expert ICMP bass tutors.
  • Develop advanced bass technical skills and music theory knowledge through practice-as-research learning.
  • Explore your unique identity as a bass player through weekly activities that encourage solo and collaborative work.
  • Progress your musicianship across varied popular music genres and styles.
  • Study alongside other instrumentalists whom you will collaborate with throughout the duration of the course.
  • Produce an exceptional portfolio of recordings and performance work on the bass to use in your future career and promote yourself to the wider industry.
  • Study the modern music business and learn entrepreneurial skills to enhance your portfolio career opportunities.
  • Build a comprehensive musical network and perform at numerous London music venues.
  • Progress to the second year of an ICMP undergraduate degree on successful course completion.
  • Apply Now
Course Ambassador

Yolanda Charles 

UK Bassist Yoland Charles is the course ambassador for the CertHE in bass. 


Yolanda Charles has been working as a session musician since 1990, over her career she has been playing and working with a ecclectic mix of artists such as Robbie Williams, BB King, Eric Clapton and many more. 


Most recently she has been performing with Hans Zimmer on his world tours, as well as working on various other film soundtracks. In 2020 Yolanda was awarded an MBE for her services to music; we are very excited to have her as a course ambassador at ICMP. 



Course details

During your one-year CertHE studies, you’ll focus on developing your performance abilities and technical skills on the bass guitar, five-string bass and synth bass, while also exploring digital music technologies and gaining a solid understanding of the ins and outs of the modern music industry. You’ll start to recognise your strengths and identity as a bass player as you progress your talents to an industry-standard level. 

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 bass 
  • Stylistic repertoire 
  • In-person and recorded performance skills for bassists 
  • Rehearsal techniques 
  • Live performance technology 
  • Communication skills for performances 
  • Backing vocals  
  • Ensemble performance as a bass player  
  • Understanding your place in the rhythm section  
  • Tonal and timbral choices 
  • Understanding your gear  
  • Using backing tracks in performances 


This module gives you the academic knowledge and practical bass training to arrange, perform and record music across various popular genres and styles. You’ll establish strong foundations in music theory and music notation, as you elevate your performance skills by enhancing your sight-reading for bass. You’ll also examine the essentials of music technology and its application in popular music performance, including the use of keyboards, digital audio workstations (DAWs) and music notation software. In this module, you’ll undertake bass skill sessions, seminars and one-to-one tuition classes to support your development. 

  • Fingerstyle technique 
  • Slap technique 
  • Thumb and finger technique  
  • Basic keyboard skills  
  • Fundamentals of music theory  
  • Bass sight-reading 
  • Music technology essentials 
  • Music notation  
  • Stylistic awareness
  • Digital audio workstations 


Building on the earlier Theory, Technique and Technology module – this extends your current skills in music technology, bass technique and music theory to a deeper level. You’ll advance your notation skills and keyboard skills using industry-standard music technology such as music notation software. You’ll perform, arrange and record music across a variety of genres, tackling more challenging styles of popular music head-on. Through critical analysis and study of music theory, combined with intense practice and one-to-one sessions with your bass tutor, you’ll develop a range of advanced skills and techniques on the bass. 

  • Technical bass skills  
  • Music theory 
  • Music technology 
  • Digital audio workstations 
  • Musical literacy 
  • Arrangement skills 
  • Keyboard 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 
  • The transformation of the music industry 
  • Music rights and royalties 
  • Recorded music 
  • Music publishing
  • Live music
  • The role of artist management
  • The A&R process
  • Sales and distribution
  • Professional music industry membership organisations
  • Trade bodies and collection societies
  • Music marketing and promotion
  • 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 
  • Approaches to documenting performances 
  • Video, audio, blogs and vlogs 
  • The wider cultural contexts of performance 
  • Documenting practice in performances, rehearsals and workshops  
  • Using documentation to refine or influence performances 
  • The effect of context on decision making 


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 and 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 (Bass) course applicants will typically have A-levels, a BTEC Diploma or Extended Diploma, an International Baccalaureate equivalent to 48 UCAS points, or an ICMP Higher Diploma. 

You should also hold a GCSE Grade C or 4 or above in English, or suitable equivalents, such as Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Adult Literacy/Numeracy. 

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

International students will usually hold a relevant equivalent qualification – please check yours with our Admissions team. You should also hold a relevant English language qualification equivalent to CEFR Level B2. 

All applicants will be invited to attend an audition/interview.  

This course is also available as a three-year BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance option. 

UCAS code 316BUni 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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