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Press release

  • 6 September 2005
  • Sussex degrees for tomorrow’s music stars

    Rachel and Alex

    Fame Academy's Alex Parks and student Rachael Wood

    The Grammy and MTV stars of the future will be getting in some early award ceremony practice when they graduate from Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM) this week.

    Twenty of the school's 700 music students will be sporting mortar boards and gowns in place of the usual grunge and glam at 3pm on Friday 9 September at Audio nightclub on Marine Parade, Brighton, at the first-ever BIMM graduation ceremony.

    All 20 students will receive BA Honours in Professional Musicianship awarded by the University of Sussex. The University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alasdair Smith, will confer the degrees. Tutors, family and friends will also enjoy a graduation gig at Audio after the ceremony.

    Lyricist Chris Difford, best known for his work with the band Squeeze will also perform after the ceremony. Chris is a BIMM regular, and offers a week-long songwriting course to one BIMM student every year.

    Students at BIMM combine rigorous academic study with experience of the hard and competitive music business, and the first cohort to graduate have set an incredibly high standard, notching up chart hits, record deals, TV appearances and session work along with their degrees:


    • Guitarist Carlos Garcia, 22, is involved with two bands - Speedway, which has already enjoyed chart success, and The Crave, currently in talks with record labels. His favourite BIMM moment was jamming with Motorhead's Phil Campbell.
    • Singer-songwriter Maureen Anderson, 47, awarded a First Class BA Honours Degree in Professional Musicianship. Maureen, a session singer since the 1970s, overcame long-term illness to complete her course and now hopes to focus on song-writing and teaching.
    • Drummer James Drohan, 22, divides his time between two bands - Red Autumn, and Inner Mantra, which also features Skunk Anansie guitarist Ace. Course highlights included supporting American Pop Idol winner Kelly Clarkson on Top of the Pops and meeting BIMM visitor Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
    • Guitarist Rachael Wood, 21, receives a First in her BA Honours Degree in Professional Musicianship. She says: "At one stage I found myself appearing on national TV, gigging with the college and doing an exam in the space of a week." Rachel backed Fame Academy winner Alex Parks on Top of the Pops, CD:UK and This Morning.

    BIMM has attracted a string of celebrity guest "lecturers" since opening in 2002, including chart-toppers Kasabian, the Kaiser Chiefs, Iron Maiden, Feeder, Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass and the Libertines' Gary Powell. Recent graduate David Neale is currently enjoying success with his band Rooster. Other BIMM graduates include The Kooks, now signed to Virgin and The Faders, signed to Polydor.

    Dr Pete Wilson, Head of Undergraduate Studies at BIMM, says: "BIMM has quickly matured into an award-winning college, while our students have shown professionalism beyond their years. We congratulate all the graduates and wish them all the very best for the next stage in their careers."

    Professor Alasdair Smith says: "I am delighted to be presenting these first Professional Musicianship degrees. I look forward to hearing of the further successes of these first students and also to the continued success of the academic partnership with BIMM."


    Notes for editors 

    BIMM offers A-level equivalent qualifications, diplomas and a full BA Honours degree in Modern Music for musicians, singers and songwriters. For more information about courses, facilities and latest news, see

    For on-the-day access, photos and interviews, contact Rochelle Humphrey, The Priory Partnership, tel: 01273 207155 or

    For information about University of Sussex partner institutions, see

    University of Sussex Press Office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel 01273 678 888 or email or


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