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Guitar - Diploma in Popular Music Performance at BIMM

Course description

If you’re a guitarist after ‘hands-on’ training and a broad overview of virtually every aspect of modern guitar playing, then the Diploma in Popular Music Performance – Guitar can help turn your passion for music into a career.

This one-year practical and vocational course is equivalent to two ‘A’ Levels, and covers tuition across everything from technique and performance skills to musicianship and music theory.

At BIMM London, we understand that live performance is the key to you becoming a great guitarist, so you’ll spend a lot of time on stage to help you develop your technical ability and find your niche as a performer. You’ll participate in weekly Live Performance Workshops (LPWs), playing with your fellow students while receiving expert guidance from highly skilled BIMM tutors.

As well as the focus on performance, this guitar course will teach you to communicate musically and be creatively self-sufficient. It’ll also provide you with an understanding of how the music industry works and give you the opportunity to study the work of the leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. All in all, it’s a fantastic grounding for a holistic understanding of modern music and the industry that surrounds it.

Successful completion of the course will gain you a Pearson Edexcel BTEC National Diploma qualification, and it’s a great gateway to either taking your first steps in a music industry career, or continuing on with study in the form of a music degree at BIMM.

The exciting news is that students looking to enroll on this course are entitled to apply for the Marshall Amplification Scholarship, where your full fees for one year will be funded by one of the most successful and recognisable names in guitar amps, Marshall.

So, what are you waiting for? To make your way as a guitarist, connect with us, and we’ll connect you to a life in music.

Course content

Technique – This module covers the physical principles of technique and ‘unlocks’ the fretboard, enabling students to fluently access the sounds required for specific styles and situations. They’ll also explore less conventional playing techniques, including electric slide playing and acoustic finger picking.

Session Styles – This unit looks in detail at a wide range of styles, analysing the harmonic and rhythmic components, as well as the great players, techniques, sounds and equipment used. This will give students the tools to respond to any musical situation, and to be thoroughly creative in their own right. They’ll look at both rhythm and lead guitar concepts and techniques, developing the skills to be able to lay down great grooves, along with stylistically authentic and creative solos.

Pre-Production – This module supports the preparation of songs for the Live Performance Workshops. Parts, arrangement, tone and performance will all be analysed, with the emphasis on simplicity being taken to a very high standard. Attention to detail is paramount and students will also discover amp, pedal and tonal techniques that will enhance their performance and enable authenticity across a range of genres.

Live Performance Workshop (LPW) – This unit gives the chance to put it all the learning into practice – on stage with a full band line-up. Students will develop their live sound in a number of different styles, concentrating also on performing, showmanship and the right mental approach. They’ll learn to communicate ideas with other musicians, with the focus on a tight, well-arranged and professional performance.

Reading – Students will cover a simple step-by-step method for learning to read and perform from music notation in this module, and well as interpreting charts – all of which is required by the industry. This will enable them to communicate quickly and effectively and perform to a high level in a variety of musical situations, opening up many employment opportunities throughout their career.

Musicianship – Students will study the recognition of intervals, chords, rhythm, notation, melodies and chord progressions, forming a direct link between music they hear and their own instrument. They’ll explore how harmony and theory is applied in commercial music in a very practical and relevant way.

The Music Industry – This module gives students practical music industry knowledge that will help them plan their career. They’ll be taken through aspects of the music industry, including record and publishing deals, management, social networks, music synchronisation, legal issues, copyright, live music and business plans.

Music in Context –
This unit provides a history of classic artists placed in their social, historical and political context. Artists studied include Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Madonna, Nirvana and Radiohead. An understanding of this essential stylistic knowledge will help to develop authenticity in performance.

Personal and Instrumental Development – This module supports the performance opportunities that feature as part of the one-year programme alongside artist development, presentational skills, practice routines and academic writing. As the weeks progress you will gain advice and guidance in how to develop as an individual and instrumentalist / vocalist in all areas of your work. You will explore and adopt many different approaches to ensure you deliver every aspect of your what you do, whether this is a live performance or an essay, to your best level. This module will help support and guide you through the course and will help you to manage yourself as a student and as a musician

Music Technology – This unit introduces students to industry-standard music software packages, allowing them to build up effective backing tracks, work out solos and program their own music.

Extended Studies
– This module is a chance to recap and review key areas of the curriculum, as well as receiving information relating to academic writing, assessment criteria, the forming of bands and guests.

Entry requirements

Four GCSE qualifications at grade C upwards, including English Language. Overseas students where English is not their native language must meet a minimum English language requirement of IELTS 6.0. We require a minimum of 5.5 to be achieved in each band.


All diploma applications can be made directly via the BIMM Admissions Team. To request an audition and/or assessment call 0208 749 31316. All students will be invited to attend an audition and/or assessment. International applicants who can’t attend an audition and/or assessment will be sent guidelines and an application form.

Financial information

This course is free for UK & EU students under 18.

Future opportunities

Graduates can progress directly to employment in the music industry in roles such as solo performer, band member, session musician, backing vocalist or songwriter, or can continue their study with a BMus Popular Music Performance at BIMM London.

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 12 February 2015
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Key information


  • More information
    • In 2010, ‘Tech Music School London’ was acquired by the BIMM Group, who already had modern music institutes in Brighton (2001) and Bristol (2008), and went on to open further centres in Dublin (2011) and Manchester (2013). In 2014, ‘Tech Music School London’ was officially renamed ‘BIMM London’.

      More than just the capital of the country, London is the capital of the music world. With facilities befitting of the city’s status, BIMM London is the ultimate place to prepare for the rigours of the music industry.

      The College, which opened in Fulham in 2013 following a £3m investment, spans five storeys and 19,000ft2. It’s an incredible building and a stunning place to go to work each day – but just like the best artists in music, the College boasts style and substance in equal measure.

      There’s an incredible 25 teaching rooms here, all kitted-out with equipment from the world’s leading musical instrument manufacturers. Guitars from Gibson, Fender and Ernie Ball, drums and keyboards by Yamaha, amps from Marshall, Hartke and Peavey and mics from Shure and Sontronics.

      There’s a Mac suite too, complete with industry software favourite Pro Tools, plus mixing rooms and post-production suites, for students pursuing a more technical route into the music profession.

      Indeed, whichever side of the studio you see your future on – whether you’re a performer or a producer – we’ve got everything here to get your musical ambitions off the ground.

      Connections can be are a big part of that too. So alongside all the first-class facilities and industry equipment, it could also help that Universal Publishing (the world’s leading music publisher and home to artists such as Adele and Coldplay), is right on our doorstep…

      Facilities include:

      Five specially equipped acoustic drum booths

      Three drum studios

      Five Apple-equipped Digital Audio Workstation suites

      Two keyboard labs

      Three vocal studios

      Three guitar/bass studios

      Three large live performance rooms

      Two recording studios with large, acoustically designed live room

      Two post-production suites

      One digital mixing suite

      Learning resource centre