Signing up for the school of rock
New degree is music to the ears of budding young talent
IT may take parents a while to tune in to the idea, but Ireland's latest degree course will be music to the ears of every budding rock 'n' roll musician.
The UK's leading rock school is opening a college in Dublin in September, backed by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
A new four-year BA honours degree programme is being introduced to Ireland by the Brighton and Bristol Institute of Modern Music, otherwise known as BIMM.
Although Ballyfermot College of Further Education is renowned for its rock school, this is the first such course at honours degree level.
The BIMM course will be run "by musicians for musicians", with tutors who are active professionals with a variety of touring, performing and session experience under their belts.
Some of the Irish figures who will be offering tutorials in Dublin include singer-songwriters Cathy Davey, Ollie Cole, Steve Wall of The Stunning and former Therapy drummer Graham Hopkins.
Hopkins, who is currently on The Frames' 20th anniversary tour, said he wished there was something like this in Dublin when he left school almost 20 years ago.
"There was nothing else I wanted to do, nothing else mattered," says Hopkins, who ended up going to a drumming school in the UK.
He has already given masterclasses at BIMM in the UK and says it provides "a welcoming, natural and contemporary feel, and the fact that it is starting in Dublin is great".
The course will provide students with the tools to carve a career in a range of roles in the music industry, including artist management, production, performance and publishing.
It will enrol 100 students a year, who will specialise in guitar, bass, drum, vocals or songwriting, while also doing music business studies. Up to 20 additional places will be available on a scholarship basis.
The location of the college has not been disclosed, but it will be a state-of-the-art purpose-built facility in the capital.
BIMM was established in 2001 by three well-known music industry names who have sold six million records between them: artist and songwriter Kevin Nixon; Sarah Clayman, who has worked with acts such as Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond and Prince; and guitarist Bruce Dickinson, who has toured with bands, such as Bon Jovi and Guns 'N' Roses.
It has colleges in Brighton, Bristol and London and counts such names as The Kooks, Kate Nash, and Marina and the Diamonds among its graduates.
The course has been accredited by DIT, which has a long history in music education, although this is its first foray into rock.
Entry to the BA (Hons) degree in Commercial Modern Music will be through the usual CAO process, and applicants will also have to undergo an assessment, involving an interview and performance.
DIT director and dean of the college of arts and tourism Brid Grant said the partnership was a fantastic opportunity to extend the offerings from the Conservatory of Music in DIT to provide an honours degree in modern music for the first time in Ireland.