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The Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance - Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocal
The Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance

BMus (Hons) Popular Music Performance - Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocal

London, United Kingdom

3 Years


Full time

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GBP 6,300 / per year *


* £6300 UK & EU students, £8900 non-EU


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The ICMP BMus (Hons) degree is for students who aspire to reach a high standard of musicianship and build a career in today’s music industry.

Course Overview

A dynamic and challenging programme, this course will provide you with professional playing, performing and musicianship skills as well as the tools and knowledge required to develop and sustain a career in today’s modern and diverse music industry.

During the course, you will develop relevant music industry skills and effectively prepare for the real world of the career musician through playing, practicing and performing. You will be challenged to achieve high levels of musicianship and instrumental skill.

The study of established genres, styles and repertoire sits at the core of the BMus degree. Students develop a wide and comprehensive understanding of genre conventions through study in their principal instrument, with the intention of enabling them to function in a variety of performance and music-making contexts upon entry into the workplace.

This aim is supported by an embedded range of learning activities in subject areas such as music theory, music technology, music production, aural perception, technique, and sight-reading.

Ultimately, by graduating from the BMus degree you will become fluent and literate in the language of popular music, capable of working in creative and collaborative professional environments, and ready to begin your professional career.

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


Year 1 - Level 4

In the first year, you will follow a core programme, developing music skills in performance, technique, theory and practice, music technology, stylistic awareness, collaboration, popular music history, songwriting, keyboard, percussion, and backing

Harmony, Theory, and Technique I

As a musician, it is essential that you acquire the practical and theoretical skills required to support your core musical development. This module, therefore, focuses on developing these skills, which will allow you to fully express yourself on the instrument, combined with a solid technical foundation on your first study instrument. The module covers styles and genres of music; the study of musical notation; aural and transcribing; harmony and theory; plus an introduction to basic keyboard skills.

Music Culture, Context, and Criticism I

This module introduces you to the means of recognizing and interpreting the development of popular music genres and enables you to develop the skills necessary to describe and explain popular music as a cultural phenomenon. Using a structured learning framework, you will engage in the investigation, analysis, and critique of current debates and theories relating to the context within which popular music is produced, performed and consumed.

Music Performance I

As a musician, it is essential that you develop practical ensemble performance skills, and gain an awareness of authentic musical perspective, styles and historical context. On this module you will undertake live performance workshops, providing you with the opportunity to develop and deepen your performance and stagecraft skills. You will also participate in ensemble classes (vocals/backing vocals and percussion) that will further the development of these performance skills, and develop awareness of the appropriate stylistic idioms, essential communication skills and professional industry performance standards.

Music Technology

Alongside the development of your core musicianship, this module introduces and develops the skills required to create, organize and produce original work, an important skill for any musician. You will acquire a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of music technology, which will equip you with the tools necessary to understand and apply the principles of music processing and programming, and obtain a thorough introduction to the ethics of arrangement and the basic principles of song construction, including form, lyric writing, and rhythmic and harmonic construction.

Year 2 - Level 5

In the second year, you will further develop the core skills gained in the first year of study. Additionally, you will develop the ability to control and present musical material for ensemble performance. Skill development is also enhanced in the second year by modules that focus on business and economic aspects of the modern music industry. Fundamental areas include online promotion and branding, and the development of creative music-writing skills, including creation, re-creation, and re-presentation. Level 5 is made up of the following modules:

Harmony, Theory and Technique II

This module consolidates and enhances the practical and theoretical skills required to support your continuing personal progress and development. It encompasses techniques classes, which are designed to develop the skills to allow self-expression on the instrument and the development of a secure technical foundation; styles classes, which provide a thorough study of the concepts associated with performance in the appropriate idioms; reading studies, which ensures a comprehensive knowledge of musical notation and the development of essential sight reading skills; aural and transcribing; a detailed study of the harmony and theory relevant to the performance of popular music; and the continued development of your keyboard skills.

Music Performance II

As a musician, it is essential that you develop and consolidate your practical ensemble performance skills, with a detailed awareness of authentic musical perspective, cultural and historical context, and stylistic specifics. On this module you will engage with live performance workshops, providing you with the opportunity to continue to develop your core performance and stagecraft skills, and ensemble classes (vocals/backing vocals and percussion) to further support the development of your performance and essential communication skills, and develop a comprehensive awareness of industry performance standards.

Arranging and Composing

On this module, you will consolidate and further develop the skills required to plan, create, organize, process, and produce original work to brief, via theoretical, analytical, and practical study. The module will expand your practical music processing and programming skills to aid and enhance composition, outline and contextualize standard music industry practices, protocols, standards, and expectations, and provide an introduction to the fundamentals of music arranging and composing concepts in a variety of specific styles within the popular music idiom. Importantly, the module focuses on practical ‘real world’ experience, providing invaluable knowledge and insight into both arranging and composing and the development of ensemble skills.

Marketing and Monetising Your Music

Essential to the career of every musician is a comprehensive awareness of the various facets of today’s rapidly evolving music industry. This module will establish the framework of the industry, exploring its three main sectors: recorded music, live music, and publishing. It will deliver an overview of the contemporary music business, allowing you to develop an invaluable understanding of current monetization models; effective marketing and promotion strategies; the role of management; and how to recognize and exploit changes in practice which have been brought about by the impact of the internet and new technologies.

Music Culture, Context, and Criticism II

On this module, you will explore the relationships between popular music genres and experiment with a range of analytical approaches to justify intellectual positions. You will become able to interrogate and deconstruct popular music through a range of critical and political ‘lenses’, and, building on previous study, further develop your capacity for intellectual engagement with popular music through analysis and critique, while engaging in the current debates and theories relating to the context within which popular music is produced, performed and consumed.

Year 3 - Level 6

In the third year, you will have the opportunity to study practical music skills to an advanced stage, both in individual and ensemble ‘real-world’ performance situations. Project options within the third year of the programme offer numerous opportunities for the construction of individual learning routes so that you can develop more specialist skills in your chosen area of music study. Level 6 is made up of the following modules:


The dissertation, a major element of your undergraduate degree, requires you to plan, develop and realize an appropriate, independent research project under relevant subject-specialist supervision. This will enable you to demonstrate how you have developed and applied the skills of critical and/or historical analysis acquired in the programme so far, offer a critical analysis of a wide range source material, demonstrate independent thought and write lucidly. The dissertation is split into two parts, which are a series of lectures and seminars designed to inform your own work, supported by supervised sessions looking at the development and execution of your dissertation.

Advanced Musical Performance

Central to the ICMP BMus programme is the development of advanced music performance skills. This module, therefore, provides the opportunity to perform, create, and re-create music at an advanced level in various real and simulated professional scenarios, environments and situations. You will practice collectively, as part of an ensemble under direction, and individually, in a specialized field requiring advanced technique. Additionally, you will develop a broad-based, highly focused, specialized, practical skill set to facilitate your participation in diverse individual and ensemble musical situations and environments including live performance, studio performance, clinics, and demonstrations.

Professional Project

On this module, you are provided with the support necessary for you to identify, plan and complete a project of your own choosing to a professional standard. You will have the opportunity to understand the challenges and demands of working as a creative artist and discuss and analyze project management best practice and methodologies prevalent in artistic project contexts.

Instrumental and Vocal Teaching (Option)

This module enables you to design, deploy and evaluate a variety of teaching, learning and assessment methods, preparing you for progression to postgraduate study, peripatetic teaching, or other music teaching roles. You will engage with subjects such as creating lesson plans; the psychology of learning; teaching methodologies; student assessment; the design of learning outcomes and course construction; small business and sole-trader practices; child protection (including safeguarding vulnerable adults); health and safety legislation and practice; and special educational needs.

Event Management (Option)

On this module you will develop the skills necessary to devise, plan, execute, and reflect on the development and realization of a live performance event in a professional setting, drawing upon prior learning to investigate and evaluate event management from a variety of critical perspectives. The module engages you with a broad range of relevant, practical management techniques, including communication, negotiation, organization, coordination, arbitration, and resource management, and enables the development of essential transferable skills, such as venue operations, event culture and tour management, promotion and marketing and funding. Additionally, you will acquire a functional understanding of the relevant legal issues, obligations, and regulations such as public and personal liability, health and safety, and insurance.

Composing to Brief

On this module, you will consolidate and further develop the compositional skills required to plan, create, organize, process, and produce original work to brief, via theoretical, analytical, and practical study, and develop practical music processing and programming skills to aid and enhance the composition. Additionally you will develop the planning and organisation skills through the preparation of composition for performance and recording; build a portfolio of work; and engage in a range of additional studies and activities that will enhance your employment opportunities as a music professional and enable you to effectively articulate, express, and realise your musical creativity and imagination. Ultimately, you will become able to function with confidence in a number of settings by using complex skills consistently with a high degree of coordination and fluidity.

Key Facts

  • The personalized learning experience equips you with the knowledge, understanding, and skills for successful employment in the music industry
  • The course enables the development of high-level instrumental skill and music literacy
  • The London location provides opportunities to perform in gigs at top London venues and immerse yourself in the current music scene
  • High-quality teaching by industry practitioners
  • Extensive music industry links and access enable you to build that all-important network
  • A high level of contact teaching hours is delivered in small groups in world-class facilities
  • A creative and inspiring learning environment
  • You can focus on realizing your unique identity as a musician
  • Provides preparation for being a professional and versatile musician
  • Develops your musicianship across a diverse range of styles and scenarios

Featured Success Story - Drew McConnell (Babyshambles)

Drew McConnell (BMus graduate) is the bass guitarist and backing vocalist with Babyshambles, the band formed and fronted by the frontman of The Libertines, Pete Doherty. Formerly in the band Elviss, McConnell participates in a number of side-projects, such as The Phoenix Drive and playing double bass and piano with Irish singer/songwriter Fionn Regan as well as writing and recording solo material.

McConnell organizes a musical collective named Helsinki with which he performs solo material as well as versions of songs by Babyshambles, such as a swing version of their single "Delivery". Among the members of this collective are Stephen Large of Squeeze and Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes, the drummer Seb Rochford of Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland, drummer Jamie Morrison (of the Noisettes), guitarist Matt Parks (ICMP Alumni), Jonnie Fielding (violin), Larrikin Love and Fionn Regan.

Featured Tutor - Andy Saphir

A versatile pro guitarist, Andy has established himself as one of the UK country music scene’s top players and enjoyed a busy touring schedule for many years, gaining huge experience in many different live situations from small club gigs to festivals and theatres, both in the UK and Europe and has backed USA singer, Michael Twitty (son of country legend, Conway), toured with USA fiddle player/ singer John Permenter (Clint Black), and worked with Nashville based guitarist/ songwriter, Glen Mitchell (Lonestar, Billy Currington), as well as playing guitar on studio albums by various artists including X Factor finalist and ‘2 Shoes’ singer, Charley Bird and Celtic Thunder’s George Donaldson and Ryan Kelly.

Andy is a regular contributor to top tuition publication Guitar Techniques magazine with his columns, ‘Hot Country Guitarists’, ‘Hot Country Lead’, ‘Modern Country’, and ‘Session Soloing’. He has also regularly contributed to Total Guitar magazine, for whom he has also interviewed the legendary Stanley Jordan, as well as contributing to Guitarist magazine.

Currently, Andy tours with theatre show, ‘Voice of The Heart, Karen Carpenter’ (a ‘Carpenters’ tribute show), ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ (a fast-paced ‘rock n roll hits through the years’ show), and top Eagles tribute band, ‘Desperado’. He very occasionally dips in premier Rolling Stones tribute act, ‘The Counterfeit Stones’, and plays other function band and country gigs.

About the School


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