The Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) is an independent music education provider based in London, United Kingdom. This post will provide a quick introduction to the university. It will also delve into the experience of an East London student at ICMP who studied Cert HE Songwriting.

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP)

The University of East London has recognised the Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) programmes. According to ICMP, a prospective East London student will ‘find their place in the music industry.’ The institution provides a diverse range of music courses, ranging from short courses to degrees and master’s degrees.

Undergraduate Options

Students at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance enjoy a wide range of undergraduate choices. You may learn more about what they have to offer by visiting their website.

Niamh Foxe: My Experience At The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP)
The Department

Why did you decide to study at ICMP?

After two gap years, I knew I wanted to do some further education in music. I did some google searching and found similar Cert HE Songwriting courses in both ICMP and BIMM London. I visited both and after a long debate, I chose ICMP because I felt the environment, facilities and the course was more suited to me. 

What did you study? What is the workload and level of help provided?

I chose to do Cert HE Songwriting. It is equivalent to the first year of a degree with the opportunity to continue the degree if you wanted. There were so many different aspects to the course, there could be an intense amount of work. Our work included Creative Writing, Performance, Production, Popular Music Debates, and Music Theory. Each week, we were encouraged to compose a song in different genres or styles, collaborate with other students, prepare short presentations, practice harmonies, or work on a Logic Pro project. Support was always there if you needed it. You could email tutors about any kind of work or you could speak with various ‘student services’ about personal issues or career advice. But like most universities, they prefer if you speak to other students or research online or in books first.

What words would you use to characterise your department?

  • Creative
  • Sometimes chaotic
  • Supportive
An East London Student Day In The Life

Give me a rundown of a typical day as a Cert HE Songwriting student at ICMP.

Days could vary. I would be on campus 3 days a week but you might start at 9 am and finish as late as 7 pm. My typical Monday was 2 hours of ‘Style and Genre’ such as Jazz, Blues or Country music, a break for lunch, 2 hours of production either recording or working on a project on a DAW (digital audio workstation e.g. Logic Pro) and then finish with 2 hours of music performance, playing your songs to the group or working on musical arrangements. Wherever you go in the building, there is always someone with a piano or guitar in a corner playing music!

Was it difficult for you to strike a balance between your studies and your social life and what did you do to improve this?

It could be quite intense at times especially when you had a heavy workload. Your friends were always there if you needed them. Everyone is in the same boat and happy to help each other out! We would often have impromptu visits to the local pubs and bars after our last lessons. Going out was very appealing when you had a lot of work to do but if you want good results you have to work for them!

Final Thoughts

We are all aware that further education may be costly. Why do you think this is the case, and what steps can be taken to make higher education more accessible to young adults?

When I started in 2019, my course was only £7,500 in comparison to the average £9,000 student fees in other universities. It has risen since then. Student Loans help enormously! I’m sure we’re all dreading paying it back, but they make higher education more accessible to people, so we can all choose which path we want to take. In ICMP there is a lot of expensive equipment that has to be paid for, lots of staff and tutors who earn a wage.  It seems criminal that students have to pay £9k and only receive pre-recorded videos of lessons from their tutors or zoom calls a few times a week.

Would you consider your course to be beneficial in terms of making contacts in the music industry?

Yes and no. Many of us were told that networking is the key to getting into the industry. However, (I don’t recall) we ever had lessons on how to do this. It would also have been helpful if we had taken a business class to help us develop our skills, since, after all, the music industry is a business. However, I do feel that I have benefited from my course. My songwriting has improved, I feel more confident, and I have made friends with so many wonderful and creative people!


We hope this post has given you an idea of what it’s like to pursue a Cert HE Songwriting at The Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance. You can learn more about the course here.

Check out my latest music interview here!