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The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

Advice for musicians

Advice for musicians

Are you thinking of studying music at university, a conservatoire or a contemporary music school? We asked the musicians on our books where they studied and whether they'd recommend their course. Here are our top 10 music colleges in the UK.

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

Whether you're choosing a career in music performance, composition, teaching or production, the formal study of music is by no means a necessity – anyone with enough natural talent and perseverance can forge a successful career as a musician. But there's no doubt music colleges can broaden our range of skills and understanding of music, and help prepare young musicians for the journey ahead.

Traditionally, music colleges have been the preserve of jazz and classical musicians, but the last couple of decades have seen contemporary music schools flourish. Two of the most popular, The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA, co-founded by Paul McCartney) and the British & Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) have produced chart mainstays such as The Kooks, Marina Diamandis of Maria And The Diamonds, Beth Rowley and Tom Odell in recent years.

1. Leeds College of Music

With classical, jazz, pop, and production courses on offer in a musically vibrant city, it's no wonder we have so many LCM graduates thriving in the music industry. The outreach programme has enabled LCM bands to play at London's Jazz Café, 606 Club and Steinway Hall amongst others, and a varied and busy performance scene is buzzing in and around the College.

Simon Picton from The 12th Street Swingers told us: "The faculty there were by and large professional musicians who all had wide experiences not only in the jazz world, but also in the music business as a whole, and I learned many useful things from them, particularly about all the various practical aspects of how to make oneself employable and how to make a living from music."

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

2. British & Irish Modern Music Institute

BIMM (incorporating Tech Music Schools), has bases in London, Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, Dublin and even Berlin. Renowned for its expert tutors and chart-topping alumni, BIMM's programmes span music journalism, production and songwriting, as well as performance.

Chris from festival folk band The Wandering Lights says “the best thing about it was the tutors. Having such amazing musicians as mentors was hugely inspiring and motivating. The most useful thing I learnt was playing lots of different styles of music. Being forced out of my comfort zone really pushed the boundaries of my playing. I loved studying here because I made some great friends who now also work in live music.”

James Garnet from party band Get Carter says "I learnt so much and it really prepared me for being the full-time professional musician I am today."

Bassist from Brighton wedding band Rockit, Sam Brown said: "The friends and connections I made there have gone on to be people I've worked with consistently for 10 years now! It was always a forward-thinking college, with an eye on what's going on in the industry right now and navigating that with experienced tutors. I've been lucky enough to become faculty as a member of the Bass department and it's a true joy and a privilege for me to share my experience, the highs and the lows with my students so that they can prepare themselves to work in this tough but thoroughly rewarding industry."

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

3. Academy of Contemporary Music

ACM in Guildford offers programmes in Music Performance for guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboard, as well as their Contemporary Songwriting & Artist Development Programme. Many of the tutors have lengthy rock and pop performance credits, and stars of the music world come to perform and give the students masterclasses. Our co-founder Ali Lion taught drums here, so it must be good!

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

4. Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance

Situated by the Thames in the stunning Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Trinity Laban has a dynamic and forward-thinking jazz faculty, as well as a strong classical department. Our Trinity Laban graduates are a rich mixture of classical, rock & pop, and world music (such as Brazilian and Klezmer).

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

5. Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

Running through the core of all LIPA programmes is an emphasis on learning about the music industry and the practicalities and skills of being a working musician. Co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney, there is a definite focus on rock & pop band music here.

Kat who sings in The VPs says "the best thing about LIPA is the way the courses all work together and interact. During a show, the musicians write and play the score, the dancers and actors perform, the managers organise and promote the event, the designers make the costumes and the set, and the engineers do the sound - I made so many contacts, it's amazing!"

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

6. Royal Northern College of Music

With a popular music performance course, as well as a renowned brass programme, the RNCM is a highly respected route for pop as well as classical musicians. Internationally renowned teachers and specialised teaching programmes contribute to the success of RNCM's alumni.

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

7. Birmingham Conservatoire

This 150-year-old institution in the heart of Birmingham offers jazz, composition and music technology courses, as well as a wealth of classical training, and is perfectly nestled in the heart of a thriving city music scene.

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

8. Guildhall School of Music & Drama

With a range of music specialisms on offer including jazz and electronic music, and ongoing opportunities for collaboration with the drama students, there is no doubt that GSMD is an exciting place to learn. A London conservatoire with a strong international reputation and some staggeringly talented graduates.

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

9. Royal Academy of Music

The Royal Academy of Music is Britain's oldest music conservatoire, but is also a vibrant musical community. There is a busy regular recital series spanning all sorts of music, and the list of visiting professors is as extensive as it is exciting. Graduates are in good company, with alumni including Sir Elton John and Annie Lennox. Hava Tequila musician Susie says the highlight of her time here was "regular one-to-one lessons with six of the world's leading orchestral clarinettists."

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

10. Institute of Contemporary Music Performance

London-based ICMP is an energetic educational environment with cutting edge facilities. A dedicated industry and careers service and countless performance and showcase opportunities help students prepare for industry life, and alumni include members of Foxes and Clean Bandit.

The Best Music Schools in the UK – Our Top 10

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