Keep Creating

Keep Innovating: Transforming Music Education

1st July 2020

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It’s kind of in our bones as an institute to always be ahead of the curve. After all, you’re all here to become part of a fast-paced and constantly moving industry. So, it’s only right that we use our industry contacts and resources to keep innovating – and keep things exciting, relevant and up-to-date.

That’s why we transformed our offerings for the 2020/21 academic year. We have added some new courses, including Music Marketing, Media and Communication (MMMC) and Electronic Music Production. For those people that want to do two different but complementary degrees, you can make those dreams a reality as we have added the opportunity via our Joint Honours degrees.

The main thing that makes our programs so unique is an increased level of optionality for each student. This means that you will be able to choose modules which closely reflect your interests and career goals, creating a bespoke learning journey that is uniquely your own. We caught up with some of the folks responsible for putting the new programmes together to tell us more.

Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdike is a music ambassador at BIMM and worked closely on creating the framework and modules for the MMMC degree.

I was so excited when I was asked to be on the team to write a new course. As a thirty-year veteran of the music business, I know first-hand how important it is to have a wide array of skills that can be used across a lot of different areas.

The main foundation of MMMC is perfecting smart, succinct and thoughtful communication skills, whether that be in becoming a great networker, writing a strong email or even making sure a text message comes across as professional. With technology moving so fast, it is crucial that our students be able to excel in both writing and speaking skills. They are the basics of pretty much all the varieties of marketing, advertising and entertainment, whether that be a post on social media, a podcast or as a YouTuber.

The importance of being able to clearly get your point across will never change, even as the mechanism of how we interact may be a moving target. This was the goal that underpinned the MMMC course: making sure that no matter what area of the business students eventually wanted to go into – from advertising to content creation to vlogging – that they had exceptional expertise, which would be applicable across a range of careers, platforms and culture industries.

David O’Connor

“It was crucial to address the dynamic of the industry, the dynamic of higher education, and help students achieve what they wanted to in work and in their creative endeavours.” 

David O’Connor is the Group Employability & Product Development Director and oversaw the design of all the new curriculum.

We realised that in order to control our own destiny going forward, we needed to be able to write our own degrees. What enabled that was to obtain what is called Taught Degree Awarding Powers. At the heart of this was the need to reflect the feedback from the industry, our students and alumni. This was the most important component of the course creation process. It was crucial to address the dynamic of the industry, the dynamic of higher education, and help students achieve what they wanted to in work and in their creative endeavours.

Joint Honours came about via student feedback. Traditionally, BIMM supplied single honour undergraduate courses. Specifically, the feedback we would get was from students and their parents who were doing a Performance degree but wanted to do it with a commercial discipline, such as Music Business or MMMC.

We could never do this before as we were partnered with another institution for providing the degree awarding powers. However, now that we have control of the provision of our degrees, it freed us up to address this area that had been asked for. It really was directly driven by students and their parents.

Now, each of our joint honour degree courses has a defined career path. For example, a joint honour with Popular Music Performance and Business. The performance element focuses on being the consummate performer; it’s quite technical in terms of what we are asking students to do across the various elements of performance. But, it also marries up with the business side, which allows the students to operate as a freelancer, or set up their own business, so they can maximise the earning potential of their creative talent.

Optionality became a huge part of the new courses after we spoke to the industry.

It became very clear that our courses be built on three key areas. The first area was in developing a student’s professionalism. Those are the soft skills that enable someone to work with and collaborate with a lot of different people. The second was about having the required technical skills; if you are a performer, that is having performance skills; if you are a songwriter, that is having songwriting skills, etc. The third part was that students have the ability to differentiate themselves as specialists in a specific chosen area – both amongst their peers and in the future workplace.

The options allow them to do this.  They also allow students to study something to a much deeper level. If you are interested in one particular subject area, you can pick options that really help you explore it in greater depths. Secondly, the options allow you to have more understanding and skills if you are looking to pursue a career in a particular area or wish to go on to an MA or MSC.

There were more than 200 people involved in the new course creation process. This included current students, staff and lecturers; a variety of different industry professionals; alumni and other higher education academics. This allowed for a full 360-degree view on what was needed both in the classroom and the workplace.”

Antony Greaves

Antony Greaves is College Principal of BIMM Manchester and BIMM Birmingham. Ant was key in writing and pulling together the Music Production degrees.

The main focus when writing the new courses was preparing the students for actually doing the skills/job in the real world. It was crucial to enable them with the knowledge and experience to be able to take any opportunity that comes their way. That was key.

As many people do not specialise in one area anymore, we need to give students the expertise to have a portfolio career and work across a wide array of mediums. This is why the Joint Honours are so important. Students will be able to learn and do multiple things. Creating the ability for students to do two degrees was important as it fulfilled the demands of the applicants and the demands of the industry.

We got the industry involved at multiple layers and times of writing the new degrees. We’ve run panels where we have had the industry meet us and hear our proposals. Once we created the courses, we had the same panels back so we could show them what solutions we had put in place on our new degrees. We presented our response to their needs and demonstrated what would lead to fulfilling careers for our students after they left BIMM.

BIMM is the perfect place to keep innovating and creating. Don’t think you have to wait until Results Day to start your application process. Apply for Priority Clearing today and start your life in music. 

Author

Loulou Baylis