‘It has certainly helped create a better mindset for me’ – Should you do a musical degree at university?

By Owen Jameson

20 May 2024

So many iconic bands have started on university campuses: Coldplay, Pink Floyd, Blur among many others. But, what about doing a degree in music? How can it help you evolve into a better musician or is a degree even worth it?

We spoke to Kieran Beech, guitarist for Birmingham based band – Mantarray. Beech studies at the BIMM Music Institute in Birmingham and hopes that combining his passion with study will elevate his musical talent and skills to new heights.

READ MORE: The college teaching people the music industry


I asked Beech why he wanted to go down the degree route.

He said:

“I was chasing a dream really. I had my job sorted as a tree surgeon and I still do it each week. But, I’ve always loved the idea of playing the guitar for a living and I had to pursue that dream.”

Plenty of musicians don’t really consider the prospect of studying music at university but Beech saw it as an opportunity for advancement towards his dream. Despite not all musicians going down this route it is always true that you can never learn too much.

When asked about whether his degree has helped him, Beech said:

“It has certainly helped create a better mindset for me, and its bettered me as a guitarist on the whole really.

“There’s also skills that aren’t just playing the guitar like: recording, sound engineering and song writing.

“Yeah, I’m definitely more well-rounded in other genres now than I was before uni. It has also surrounded me with a lot of the ‘right’ people with similar sorts of mindsets to create and pursue that dream.”

Take Dave Grohl for example, he’s put out albums in a broad stream of genres including his trademark rock ‘n’ roll, disco, metal and he even covered Copacabana. Being able to play across genres gives you an instant credibility as a musician. It gives you skills that allow you to hone your sound with influences from everywhere rather than just being ‘more of the same’.

I asked Beech what his main takeaway from his degree was so far, and he said:

“The one thing that stands out that I’ll take back to the band is branding, promotion campaigns, social media and the whole business side of it.

“Now, I really realise how important that is for any band that wants to grow and get bigger.

“It’s not just about playing your instrument anymore and writing good music, you’ve really got to sell yourselves and build that following.

As an up-and-coming musician it’s definitely easy to focus on your sound and perhaps forget about the business side. But, in doing a degree in music there is an emphasis at least in Beech’s case to focus on branding, social media and promotion; all of which will help you grow and be heard.

Now, there is no guarantee that doing a degree in music will make you the next Jorja Smith or Sex Pistols but in Beech’s case at least his degree has equipped him with the tools to pursue his dream and give him the best chance of making it a reality.

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