ICMP’s BA Songwriting Programme Leader Shane Beales, and module leader Angela Blacklaw, launched the new Songwriting and Communities module in the latest academic year to offer students experience with community-focused groups and in non-commercial songwriting settings. 

Shane worked with Oli Tatler, ICMP’s Careers and Employability Manager, to explore the potential for engaging with organisations within Kilburn and surrounding areas. 

The aim was to offer students practical ways to apply their learning in real-life scenarios to help them explore different career paths and develop transferable skills. 

Briefs from organisations were collated by the Careers & Industry Hub. Host organisations were then matched with small groups of up to four students based on the organisation’s specific areas of focus and students’ own interests.   

Workshops for primary school children, youth centres, inclusive theatre and arts companies, heritage charities and a local women's community centre were held with organisations including Ark Ignite Ensemble, Bollo Brook, Haringey Shed, High Trees, Lauderdale House, OK Club and West Hampstead Women’s Centre. In total, more than 40 students engaged in projects that made an impact right across London.

More than 20 opportunities with these host organisations were organised by ICMP with around 15 additional projects created by students themselves. A visit by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra had fifteen student participants. 

Commenting, Oli said:

Developing relevant, practical experience is essential as you start building your career. Opportunities such as this help develop transferable skills essential for a broad range of roles."


Angela said: "I think it’s really important that we support our students in experimenting with multiple ways of using their songwriting skills and developing additional life skills such as deep listening and leadership. This gives them options not only to stretch themselves but potentially to generate additional streams of income and make a difference to other people’s lives. I have been really proud of how students have embraced this work and some of the results have been extremely moving and powerful."

Shane said: "Songwriting and Communities forms a vital place in the newly revalidated BA Songwriting programme, and it was a great joy to see the vision of the module come to life through the collaborative work with Oliver, Terri Cash, Hannah Trott, and Ruth Squire. Now that the groundwork has been laid, I am very much looking forward to doing it all again next year. Community engagement and impact is an important part of ICMP’s vision and values, and there is an opportunity for this model to be rolled out beyond just the BA Songwriting programme."

Geo Agnhea, BA Songwriting student, said: "I took part in two placements: one involved working with disabled individuals and another one with music scholars in Year 10."

It was really insightful for me to facilitate a workshop for a group of people within the community that I belong to. It was eye-opening to see the impact you can have within different communities and how much music can actually increase our wellbeing." 

Stuart McTurk, OK Club Co-Branch leader, said: "At OK Club, we believe that it's important for young people to have the space to be themselves and process thoughts and words using the power of music! It's wonderful to partner with like-minded people and organisations that show positive role modelling also to our young people also. It's such a blessing to see what comes out, and really humbling."

Much of the work on the module was closely linked to ICMP’s wider engagement work with the local community as well as aimed at meeting the targets of our Access and Participation Plan. 

Find out more about Access and Participation at ICMP

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