Any undergraduates who’ve seen the movie “Whiplash” will (perhaps unsurprisingly) be fraught with anxieties on what to expect from a performance course at BIMM. You could be forgiven for assuming our degrees consist of hour upon hour of blistering technical drills and intense production rehearsals, with enough advanced music theory and ear-training to give Hans Zimmer a headache.
On the contrary. Although each of these elements are present, there are many other skills you’ll need if you’re going to take your career in music seriously. And even if you’ve set your sights on a career in performance, it’s important to remember that career paths can change unexpectedly. You’ll want to maximise your skill set across the board, so as to increase your employability in other areas. Figures from UK Music’s annual report show a 19% increase in employment figures across the sector, proving that the industry is thriving – and a glance through our success stories shows that many of our performance students go on to have careers in other areas such as artist management, publishing and events production.
So, with this in mind, we thought we’d give you a rundown on the sorts of modules you can expect from a performance degree here at BIMM and how they will help you start your career in music – as a performer or otherwise.
APPLIED MUSIC BUSINESS
Anyone with designs on a career in the music industry will require a depth of knowledge on the business itself. This is as true for performers as it is for business students and producers. The module is tailored to give musicians a comprehensive understanding of the inner-workings of the music industry. Topics covered include music publishing, artist management, recording contracts, music law, synchronisation, music teaching and business planning. A study skills element is also included, designed to develop the academic skills needed for Higher Education study.
ARTIST DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Here, musicians will develop an understanding of exactly what it takes to become a professional artist. This module dissects every aspect of live performance at local, national and international levels. Musicians will learn how to make the correct decisions that could give them or their band the edge in one of the world’s most competitive industries.
MUSIC THEORY & NOTATION/CRITICAL LISTENING
A comprehensive study of the theory behind the music, including practical applications of theoretical concepts. This module will also facilitate the development of sight-reading ability and transcription skills, to better prepare musicians for the range of situations likely to be encountered throughout their careers. For example, if you’re looking to become a session musician, you’ll more than likely be required to read some notation at some point or another. This module satisfies this need from a basic level in year one, right the way through to more advanced study in year three. You even have the option to tag on extra modules in this area during your final year.
CULTURAL & ANALYTICAL PERSPECTIVES
If you’re going to be a performer, you better know your music history. This module tends to become a firm favourite with degree-level students by putting their favourite genres and artists into a higher context. It provides a comprehensive history of popular music and the music business. It encourages students to analyse the key economic, social and technological developments that have shaped the growth and development of the industry, evaluate the impact of key releases from influential artists and labels, then apply this learning to their own creative practice.
RESEARCH METHODS (Year 2)
Naturally, there are essays involved in our performance degrees. This module helps musicians and project managers understand how to conduct research using a variety of different methods. The research skills and data generated can be used to drastically improve your essay skills and plan/prepare for your BA Year 3 Professional Project in the following year. The ability to carry out research is an invaluable resource to musicians who wish to develop informed ideas, viable music projects and realistic business plans.
This module takes students through the stages of identifying their own professional development needs, with specific topics covered including effective team working, stress management, time management and goal setting. Essentially, it allows you to better understand your strengths and weaknesses (both practical and academic) and learn how best to maximise your skills. Students are encouraged to consider and facilitate their own personal and business development, an essential activity for band members, songwriters and singers alike.
PROFESSIONAL PROJECT (Year 3)
The culmination of three years of hard work! In this module, all your skills come together in the realisation of your final year project. Theoretical and conceptual material will be delivered in class, but the module also provides you with the opportunity to implement these ideas in a more practical setting. In essence, this means you’re given the freedom to undertake self-directed study of a project idea that’s entirely your own. Past projects have included musicians taking their bands on the road, combining touring with an album release and/or press campaign, establishing private tuition businesses and starting their own limited companies. If you’re smart, you’ll take this opportunity seriously and use it to officially launch your career in the strongest possible way.
On top of each of these obligatory non-performance subjects, students also have the option to tag-on extra modules each year. These include Further Music Business Studies, Music Publishing, Music Teaching Practice, Music Theory and Analysis and Online Music. If you wish to get the most from your degree, it’s highly recommended you take advantage of these where possible.
So, as you can see, there’s much more to our performance courses than you might expect. The combined benefits of each of these modules, coupled with some of the best live performance, instrumental tuition and industry connections in Europe makes for a music degree that’s tailor-made to put you on the path to success.
Interested in applying? Check out our study options HERE and find the right course for you.