Music Degree at Northbrook College
Where passion meets practice

BA (Hons) Music Performance

Put yourself centre stage on this inspiring music performance course.

UCAS code: W313
Duration: 3 years full-time

Entry requirements: 2 A-Levels and 3 GCSEs in other subjects grade 9-4 or A-C (or equivalent) plus a portfolio of work or audition to demonstrate ability in the specialist area.
OR
1 A-Level, a Foundation course (or equivalent) and 3 GCSEs in other subjects grade 9-4 or A-C (or equivalent) plus a portfolio of work or audition to demonstrate ability in the specialist area.
English requirements: Applicants who have English as a second language and do not have a GCSE in English will be asked to present an IELTS UKVI certificate or equivalent as part of their offer conditions. They will need to achieve an overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in the writing element and 5.5 in all other sub-elements.
Tuition Fee: £16,500

The assessment of your application will include a review of your grades, interview, portfolio/audition and any experience.

BA Music PerformanceCourse Information

Course Content

Course Content

Lecturers with expert knowledge and industry experience will guide you through the course. By the end of your degree, you will have a significant recorded music portfolio.

Live performance forms the backbone of your course; you will develop your skills through regular live performances and also have the opportunity to collaborate with other creative departments.

Feel inspired each time you attend a lecture, with visits from prominent music figures, record labels, publishers, artist managers, music lawyers and many successful alumni, all of whom can provide you with crucial insights into the music industry. 

You will gain a broad repertoire of real-world skills, building your industry network. This may include working at festivals, providing private music tuition, and recording sessions with professional touring bands.

Your experience on the course will give you a springboard into this vibrant industry once you graduate.

Teaching Method

Teaching Method

We use a variety of teaching methods, including: 

  • practical and creative studio-based workshops
  • discussions
  • lectures/seminars
  • tutorials
  • small group study
  • self-directed study
  • study trips

Key Features

Key Features

  • Guest lectures by industry experts and professional musicians
  • The course includes live projects and opportunities for work experience (subject to student visa regulations).
  • Perform in our professional on-site theatre.
  • Extensive state-of-the-art recording studios and practice spaces.
  • Study specialist units in music theory, including harmony and arrangement.

Course Structure

Year One

Unit 1

Unit 1: Standards and Conventions

  • Analysis of common forms and structures in Western popular music.
  • Basic DAW geography - sequencing and editing.
  • Basic keyboard geography - chords and scales.
  • Essential scoring skills - standard notation, creating and exporting score extracts.

Unit 2

Unit 2: Artist Development

This unit will develop your knowledge, confidence and skills in the area of Artist Development, whether you aim to be a performer, a producer, a creator, or to promote some or all of the above.
The unit will include:

  • Songwriting, track creation, composition, arrangement.
  • The music business context: labels, publishers, management, DIY Establishing our creative community
  • Working independently in the creation of new repertoire.
  • Collaboration in the creation of new repertoire.
  • Team building for artists, producers, performers and managers.
  • Wellbeing and Mental Health for music practitioners
  • Development of a personal voice, and musical language.
  • Establishing an artist brand.
  • Identifying gaps in skills and knowledge and planning effectively to fill those gaps.
  • Instrumental technique lessons
  • Musical direction
  • Performance skills - stage presence, dynamics, timbre, tone, control of sound, interaction with/sensitivity to other performers, professionalism.

Unit 3

Unit 3: Ideas in Context: Why Music Matters

Situating your thinking: Your practice in the world.

  • Investigative methods using textual analysis, discourse analysis, participant-observations, archived and published sources.
  • Critical/creative thinking.
  • Critical theory.
  • Writing and presentation methods and techniques, foundations in academic writing practices, and Pecha Kucha presentations.

Unit 4

Unit 4: Tools and Techniques

  • Using a DAW for live recording.
  • Basic editing skills.
  • Combining live and sequenced sounds.
  • Creating a lead sheet.
  • Notating vocals.
  • Arranging chords and melodies for common band instruments.
  • Voicing chords on guitar and keyboard.
  • Recognising stylistic characteristics.
  • Common chord progressions.
  • Creating a groove.
  • Common rhythmic patterns.

Unit 5

Unit 5: Context and Application

This unit will introduce you to more advanced techniques of composition and arrangement, examining more complex arrangements and different combinations of instruments or voices. Analysis of various subgenres will highlight specific elements that define each style, encouraging greater attention to detail in your work.

  • Analysis of more complex arrangements.
  • Using 4-part harmony to arrange chords for strings, woodwind/brass and voices.
  • Replicating orchestral and other instruments using samples and electronic manipulation.
  • Rearrangement techniques.

Unit 6

Unit 6: Music Project

The unit is an opportunity for you to create original, creative work focussing on your area of interest, developing and applying the skills introduced throughout the first year. The focus of this unit should be the individual or collective ownership of a project and introduce collaborative working as the basis for future creative and professional development. You may work in new or established teams, identifying roles and responsibilities to define and produce project outcomes.
You will respond to given thematic direction and negotiate a project that will allow you to create new music content. Your creative curiosity will interrogate current practitioners and professional frameworks in the proposition of new products and performances.
Thematic development is supported by workshops introducing and developing skills that will inform your project outcome.
You will draw on the community of practice provided by the suite of Music courses to showcase your abilities, creating new content, presented through creative platforms. You will explore current and future audiences, participants and consumers and the relationship they have with your creative output.

The outcome of the project is the result of your enquiry and negotiation and may be demonstrated by:

  • a portfolio of recordings
  • live public performance or event
  • recorded performance
  • music product or artefact
  • content for broadcast or online media
  • strategy or planning that proposes a future event
  • planning and presentation informed by entrepreneurial intentions.

Year Two

Unit 7

Unit 7: Advanced Arranging

This unit focuses on arranging and orchestration in rock/pop/jazz. It builds on basic techniques from Level 4, introducing more complex harmony and instrumentation, and explores advanced Western popular music styles. It runs alongside Improvisation.

  • Extended and altered harmony.
  • Harmonised soli melodies.
  • Writing for large ensembles.
  • Common combinations of instruments.
  • Parallel and contrary motion.
  • Chord-scale theory.
  • Advanced chord progressions.
  • Reharmonisation.

Unit 8

Unit 8: Innovation

Work within the music industry is multi-streamed and the innovation unit will allow you to explore creatively within the sector.

  • Explore concepts of fast failure, incremental innovation and radical progress
  • Utilise strategies to gain knowledge of how innovation moves the industry forwards
  • Explore the uses of innovative strategies in developing originality and uniqueness in sound/songwriting/marketing
  • Incorporate immersive audio/ binaural/ 5.1 mixing or recording techniques into a production
  • Investigate the AirPods Pro details to see how they work with spatial audio.
  • Online Collaboration using new collaborative software techniques 
  • Use controllers to input musical information in a production 
  • Create a song using an innovative methodology/technology 
  • Explore and incorporate unusual spaces/resonance, microtonal instruments, just intonation

Unit 9

Unit 9: Improvisation

This unit is designed to develop techniques of improvisation.
You will investigate a range of approaches to improvisation across a broad spectrum of social, historical and geographical cultures, as well as more familiar jazz/R&B styles. The unit will examine the relationship between chords and scale/melody, rhythmic phrasing and more oblique approaches to improvisation.

Unit 10

Unit 10: Ideas in Context: Musicking

  • Situating your thinking: What you bring to your practice.
  • Investigative methods using textual analysis, discourse analysis, archived and published sources.
  • Critical/creative thinking.
  • Critical theory.
  • Presentation skills, methods and techniques; essay writing conventions, Pecha Kucha and mooting a particular subject/perspective on an argument.

Unit 11

Unit 11: Individual Project

This unit will provide you with the opportunity to expand areas, themes, opportunities, applications and locations for your developing practice. The Project provides an opportunity for you to experiment with your own and related disciplines, to consider extending and applying them to the production of new, riskier and potentially more original work.
You will connect with others to expand your opportunities to present and create challenging and ambitious music, events, products, commercial ventures and propositions; with the view to further establishing an agile, sustainable and informed practice that may contribute to and perhaps influence cultural or commercial culture.
As your practice breaks new ground, you will be encouraged to locate and question its place, value and application and - at this midway point in the Course - challenge the expectations of markets, consumers and audiences. The unit encourages collaborative and interdisciplinary working to inform developing practices.

Year Three

Unit 12

Unit 12: Collective Practice

Identifying, recognising and negotiating opportunities outside traditional music areas Forming and recruiting teams, managing roles in teams in music and other creative industries, setting common goals and objectives, and assessing the plausibility of outcomes.
Budgeting for collaborative projects.
Briefing teams, interrogating briefs.
Working across disciplines, in multi-disciplinary groups.
Production management and production schedules,
Measuring progress, mitigating risk, and strategies for overcoming hurdles.

Unit 13

Unit 13: Music Dissertation

The dissertation is an investigation and critical discourse on your negotiated choice of a topic relevant to your course of study. Your dissertation on your chosen topic is assessed on submission of a written document or an oral presentation.

The unit aims to:

  • Encourage investigative skills sourcing reliable information.
  • Engage critical skills analysing and evaluating sourced information. Stimulate persuasive validation of points of view using sourced evidence.
  • Promote formal dissemination of learning from investigation and critical discourse.

Unit 14

Unit 14: Professional Practice

This unit provides the opportunity to plan and prepare for progression from the course onto the next steps, whether those be on to further study, to employment, self-employment, founding a business, or a combination of all or any of the above as appropriate to your development and ambitions.
You will:

  • conduct a skills audit.
  • build a network of professional contacts.
  • plan effectively for your progression from this course.
  • pursue specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely career goals in industry, public sector, education or elsewhere.
  • seek commissions, sales, contracts or promotional avenues for your own musical service or product that improve your employability and investability.
  • you will evaluate the effectiveness of your actions.
  • you will evaluate the terms and conditions of any agreements that you have managed to secure or are considering.

You will explore avenues of personal career development, through direct experiences with those professionals in your discipline, through offering musical services, the creation of musical products or the case study of intended employment or entrepreneurial activities. Your preparation should include an initial proposal in the first three weeks of the unit. Use the proposal to research your marketplace, using case studies. Then create a SMART plan to investigate, negotiate and exploit these opportunities.
You may choose to work in a number of areas related to music with this project. Valid areas for projects might include sales or streaming of recorded music via traditional or digital channels, the exploitation of recordings or compositions through publishing or licensing to various media, the organisation or promotion of live music events, opportunities in the educational, musical instrument or radio sectors or the application for funding of creative and commercial projects.

Unit 15

Unit 15: Personal Voice

This unit allows you to explore the development of your style, through analysis of your influences, identification of specific techniques or approaches that you are applying to your work and the practical demonstration of that application in a live or recorded performance.
This will require you to examine your work within the context of contemporary culture and to question the concept of originality in the context of music and its performance. The unit will examine recent developments in compositional and performance techniques and identify selected artists who have successfully created an original or individual style, along with a detailed analysis of seminal works.
The unit will also discuss the topic of eclecticism and the pressures on contemporary composers and performers to work in a broad range of genres. The course will focus on key artists who have achieved success in a number of different fields and discuss the importance of versatility in the contemporary music industry.
Historically, new forms and genres have developed through adaptation and modification of existing forms to appeal to a different target audience or to reflect a political or cultural shift in society. This is often achieved through a fusion of styles or techniques from different cultures. The unit will examine existing forms which draw influences from different academic, social, historical and geographical cultures, assessing both the aesthetic and epistemological qualities of the resultant forms. You will be encouraged to investigate potential new areas of cross-cultural fusion and address both the positive and negative implications of musical cross-pollination.

 

 

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