Would you believe it’s been almost a year since Black Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi opened our seventh BIMM music school in Digbeth? Indeed, so much has happened in such a short space of time!
As with all of our other colleges, BIMM Birmingham staff and Principal Antony Greaves have worked hard to make as many connections as possible within the local music scene. All the while we’ve been opening our doors to the local community and staging several memorable events, including three incredible end of term gigs – first at The Sunflower Lounge and then onto larger venues due to demand!
Tony Iommi, who recently won Kerrang!’s prestigious icon award, isn’t the only famous name to pass through our BIMM Birmingham doors. Since opening, we’ve welcomed a host of professionals and acclaimed musicians for our BIMM Masterclasses, including Slipknot’s Sid Wilson, Lower Than Atlantis, CHIC’s Ralph Rolle, Nuno Bettencourt (Guitarist: Extreme, Rihanna), Hannah V (producer & writer: JP Cooper, Stormzy, Rihanna, Jessie J), Tom Longworth (Guitarist: Robbie Williams), JAWS, Craig Jennings (Raw Power Management), Sandy Beales & Jon Shone (Bass & MD: One Direction) and Chris Johnson (Drummer: Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Madonna).
Of course, the real headline act has been our students, who are about to enter their second year with the know-how and expertise needed to stage a successful music career. From songwriters and producers to future record label owners and radio pluggers, our inaugural students have set the bar high and are fast gaining a fierce reputation as they head into their second year.
While there’s still plenty to learn, the calibre of talent we’ve witnessed so far has given our staff and Principal plenty to look forward to in Year 2, where we’ll be welcoming another new intake. Their arrival will coincide with our first-ever Level 3 Extended Diploma students and the launch of our new Music Journalism and Event Management BA (Hons) degrees.
Providing comment on BIMM Birmingham’s breakthrough twelve months, our college Head of Education, James Maiden spoke the many accomplishments, awards and the support we’ve received from the local industry:
“It’s been an incredible first year for all of us. Our students have accomplished so much, winning awards, releasing albums, forming bands, managing bands, and every single student achieving things through their work here that they haven’t done before.”
He continued. “The way the local industry has embraced us – and the speed at which that network has grown to include just about everybody of influence in the scene – has been very inspiring and provided a wealth of opportunities for our students. It was all summed-up at our triumphant end of term gig just a couple of weeks ago, with jaw-dropping creativity, bucketloads of passion, an incredibly supportive vibe and people having a fantastic time growing and being excellent at what they do. And we get to do it all again next year!”
And what of James Atwood, our first-ever recipient of the BIMM Birmingham Tony Iommi Scholarship? James, who previously studied at the Walsall Studio School, has since found success with his own band Hunger Moon. The band have already released a single ‘Oh Friend’, which received widespread support from BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio. James and fellow BIMM student Natalie Jenkins have also played several festivals this summer already, including 110 Above in Leicestershire and Y Not – after being picked by Rough Trade to perform. Their forthcoming single is ‘Grown’, and we’re expecting big things.
Reflecting on his time here, James said: “My first year at BIMM Birmingham studying the Professional Musicianship Degree has flown by. It’s crazy to look back at how much I’ve achieved and been involved with over the past eight months. The support we get from BIMM has been second to none. Their facilities have allowed us to hone our craft and find our feet as a musical act. Their expansive network of industry contacts has also provided us with a shortcut to managers, producers and promoters who we may not have been able to reach otherwise. I’m now looking forward to a busy summer of festivals, festival planning and gigs.”
James is just one of many other students who has benefitted from our culture of promoting collaboration between all students. We’ve already seen a handful of new and exciting bands and artists emerge during their time at BIMM, and many will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of other BIMM luminaries, including George Ezra, James Bay, Tom Odell, The Kooks, and more recently, Black Honey and Fickle Friends who both have albums out this year.
The past twelve months at BIMM Birmingham have certainly been a rollercoaster of excitement, and we can’t wait to get started again in September.