Interview with BIMM, the British & Irish Modern Music Institute in Berlin

We recently met Thomas Beck and Elizabeth Owen from the BIMM Institute, a modern music school in Berlin. Below our interview with them:

Tom, tell us a bit more about BIMM and your offer here in BIMM Berlin.

BIMM, or the British & Irish Modern Music Institute, is a contemporary music school offering 3-year BA(Hons) degrees and 1-year Certificates in a number of disciplines, including performance (Guitar, Bass, Vocals & Drums), Songwriting, Music Business and Music Production. We have 7 campuses, including six within the UK and Ireland, and around 6000 students all in all across all our different campuses. However, our Berlin campus is a tight-knit group of students, with just over 200 currently studying with us.

What is unique about BIMM Berlin?

We pride ourselves on being Europe’s most connected music university. All our tutors are experienced professionals within the music industry, and we work with a great network of industry contacts to offer work placements to all our students from their first-year of study onwards. From tours of record labels to supporting festival promoters, we do our best to help each and every one of our students to expand their industry network and experience whilst also gaining valuable qualifications.

We are also very proud of our facilities. Besides our in-house Mac labs and music business seminar rooms, we teach offsite in commercial music venues, recording and rehearsal studios. Not only does this allow our students unprecedented access to these professional teaching locations as part of their studies, in the case of our rehearsal rooms they’re available pretty much every day of the year until the early hours each day, which means our students aren’t limited by the university opening hours. It also means our students are learning in the same environment that industry professionals are working in. This could range from other musicians to studio and live sound engineers, and it definitely helps our students to develop to what would be considered professional standards during their studies.

You have a large number of international students coming to BIMM Berlin to study, what is the spread between National and international and which ones are the stronger “sending countries”?

Our Berlin campus is definitely diverse! In fact, only 40% of our current students are German, with many of the rest moving to study with us from other European countries. We also have a good deal of international students, from the US, South America, the Middle-East and Asia. All of this makes for a dynamic and diverse student population, and I love seeing what influences and styles each year group brings to the table, as they arrive with their own unique backgrounds and start collaborating with other equally diverse students on songwriting, live performance, business or production projects.


Elizabeth, you work on supporting incoming students and helping them with their arrival in Berlin, what are the main challenges and your top 3 tips for students planning their study abroad in Berlin?

I think the biggest hurdle for new students is the fact that it seems completely overwhelming! For a large number of our first years, coming to BIMM will be the first time they’ve ever lived away from home, which can understandably be quite daunting. Berliners are friendly people and will be really welcoming, but there are a few things I’d suggest doing to make the transition as easy as possible.

Firstly, do as much preparation as you can before you arrive – get your documents ready and do your research. It can only be a good thing to get all of the stressful legal matters out of the way as early as possible, which will give you more time to explore your new home once you get here.

Secondly, try to learn the basics of the language before you arrive. There are plenty of free apps such as Duolingo or Memrise to teach yourself the basics – whilst it’s true that most people in Berlin speak English, it’s always good to give your brain a workout, and being able to speak even a small amount of German will open a lot of doors for you. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but if potential employers see that you at least have the drive to learn, they’ll be impressed.

Lastly, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Moving to a new city (or country) is an adventure and you should treat it like one! Berlin is a great place to be as a musician, and we host plenty of events within BIMM to give you the opportunity to network and make friends to explore your new home with.

What are your main strengths and challenges when it comes to students recruitment?

As a private UK-based university, funding can be challenging (especially for German students) however this is offset by studying in Berlin which is a very diverse city in terms of music genres and the various nationalities of those who live here, as well as a very good ratio of quality vs cost of living.

Any plans for BIMM in terms of opening new campuses in other German location or elsewhere in Europe?

We’re really excited to say we’re in the process of opening our second BIMM campus here in Germany, located in Hamburg, which will open in October 2018. Hamburg is another amazing music city, offering a great amount of live performance and music business opportunities. These are the key things we look for when opening a new campus. As a city it is also steeped in music history, with groundbreaking acts having started their careers in Hamburg. Watch this space!

We recently opened Staytoo Berlin and look forward to welcome many of BIMM’s students.

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