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Rookes Wins ICMP And MPG Music Production Scholarship

London music school, ICMP (The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance) and The Music Producers Guild (MPG) have announced that music producer, remix artist and topline specialist, Rookes is the recipient of their new Music Production scholarship.

The initiative was created for anyone passionate about music production, but who might not normally be able to consider higher education as part of their career development.

Rookes will be given the opportunity to study on ICMP’s one-year Cert HE Creative Music Production course without having to pay the tuition fees.

“I was looking at short courses to extend and sharpen up my production skills anyway, seeing as lockdown had robbed me of all my gigs and I was moving into production quite naturally as a result,” Rookes tells Headliner.

“I had joined the MPG back in January, which is how I connected with Olga Fitzroy. So when she posted about the scholarship it seemed like a great opportunity, even though it required a year’s commitment. I’m still amazed that I got it, to be honest, but that’s testament to the fact that you should always take a punt…and do it with energy!”

This course provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in live, studio and digital music settings utilising the latest industry-standard equipment and computer software.

“I was quite frank in my application about the fact that I am already producing,” Rookes admits. “I have created a production-based YouTube series around my coming debut LP, “#popnotpop”, worked on seven commercial releases to date, and am currently working with artists on three more. Furthermore, I was very clear on the specific ways this course would help me. I’m ambitious, but I’ve been active in the music industry for six years, so I’m also realistic.”

Not only will Rookes learn in ICMP’s high-tech Mac Labs, 24-track studios and dedicated teaching spaces, but she will study how to use industry-standard software including ProTools, Logic and Ableton.

“I’m very excited to be looking at in-studio engineering, as thus far I’ve evolved as a DIY/ DAW producer. I’m also excited to be diving into the ProTools sessions – I’ve only ever used ProTools when co-producing in someone else’s studio, so it will be fun to really focus on exploring its capabilities for myself.”

The course is designed to be flexible – allowing for adjustments based on the ever-changing demands of the industry. It also enables progression to the practical BA (Hons) Creative Music Production course, a programme aimed at supporting aspiring music industry professionals to develop their skills and launch successful industry careers.

“Being a multi disciplined music maker has taken me a long way,” says Rookes. “There’s definitely something to be said for pursuing your interests as hard as you can, because that’s what’s got me to this stage. But the more I engaged with production projects, the more I became aware of my limitations in terms of the technical aspects of what I was doing.

"Creativity was never a problem, but there’s only so many hours I can spend on YouTube looking up tutorials. The course offers much more targeted and systemic learning that I believe will give me a solid foundation of knowledge to approach those production projects with even more confidence in the future.”

Creativity was never a problem, but there’s only so many hours I can spend on YouTube looking up tutorials. Rookes

Rookes is keen to encourage more women to get into music production:

“The research has been done and for years it has been obvious that women and gender minorities are still being overlooked, harassed and relegated to limiting roles in the music industry. This is reflected in stats available across all kinds of industry roles and rosters, and as far as I’m concerned progress has not been taking place quickly enough.

“It’s in light of this reality that myself and mastering engineer Katie Tavini took the initiative back in March of this year to start our online studio talent network – 2% Rising – for women and gender minorities in the UK and EU. We have been able to create a safe digital space for producers and engineers to find each other, pool resources, up-skill, collaborate and share opportunities. Excitingly, we are now approaching 300 members.

“We have to build the kind of industry we want to occupy, and we need more people to understand that this is how it works. The industry is not a monolith, but equally the more harmful cultures that have developed within it are not going to change themselves.”

Rookes notes that the course has been very good so far – and is particularly impressed with the facilities.

“I am so appreciative of how much time and effort our tutors are putting into making our learning accessible at this time, and how broad and stimulating the module topics are. As expected, I am very much enjoying our sound engineering classes – exploring the more scientific aspect of what we do is fascinating. I’m also enjoying Popular Music Debates, as cultural analysis is very much my jam!”

Rookes is certain that this course will help her in her career going forward:

“I believe it will help tremendously,” she asserts. “Although I have benefitted hugely from many aspects of taking the DIY route, I have always been aware of the fact that I have missed out on building university connections, so I’m looking forward to extending my network. Over the years I’ve come to enjoy the reality that you never really stop learning, so I expect that this period of education will continue to polish up the services I can offer my production clients and give a fresh boost to my current collaborative projects.

ICMP’s creative music production programme Leader, James Rees, adds that the Cert HE is a great introduction to the realities of the industry:

“Our Cert HE Creative Music Production course is a brilliant way into the recording business, offering you the chance to learn from our talented tutors and hone your musical skills using our state-of-the-art studios and gear. There’s no better grounding for a successful career in music production and we can’t wait to receive your applications for the scholarship.”

On working with the MPG to offer this course, Rees said it was a “very natural partnership,” as they are both run by passionate music fans and are both driven by a desire to support the next generation of musical talent in helping launch and sustain successful industry careers.

“ICMP and the MPG are also both concerned by increasing opportunities for those who might not be able to access them without some additional support,” he furthers. “This scholarship was born from this shared mission. If you’re a motivated and talented producer then we want to give you a platform to succeed without being restricted by finances or resources. Our Cert HE Creative Music Production course is a great way into the industry for someone in this position.”

Describing Rookes as a “phenomenal talent,” Rees was thrilled to welcome her to the ICMP this academic year.

“We were really pleased she took the time to apply as she’s obviously a diverse and exciting music maker. As she said in her application, she’s hoping to benefit from further development of her technical skills. We feel our course, tutors and facilities should prove to be a fertile environment for her to do this within.

"Although she’s already involved in making music, we’re hoping studying with us will help her finesse these abilities and add more musical strings to her bow. Rookes is a great example of someone coming to education after some time working in the industry to help propel her career further, and we couldn’t be more pleased that she’s joining us.”

Rees is confident that ICMP will prove to be an invaluable experience for Rookes.

“Studying the course will mean she’ll learn about every aspect of the production process in live and studio scenarios. The classes are taught in our state-of-the art Mac labs and recording studios and across a range of software such as ProTools and Logic. Rookes will not only be able to get her hands on the latest gear, but she’ll be taught by our tutors, many of whom are leading professionals when it comes to recording and music production.”

Alongside the practical skills of music production, Rookes will also be immersed in the ICMP music community, and will be working and meeting with like-minded creatives.

“We know joining this diverse, inspiring group of young music makers can be beneficial in facilitating new opportunities. With all this feeding into her experiences to date, we’re very much looking forward to hearing the results of Rookes’ time with us and the kind of music she’ll be producing in the future,” concludes Rees.