Access to Music
|Type||Higher Education & Further Education|
Access to Music (now Access Creative College) was a UK-based independent training provider which specialised in industry-focused popular music and creative education. It operated across England with dedicated music colleges in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Darlington, Great Yarmouth, Lincoln, London, Manchester, Norwich, and York. Its head office was in Birmingham.
Access to Music was funded by the Education Funding Authority (EFA) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and worked in partnership with other UK educational institutions, including Birmingham City University (BCU) and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).
Access to Music was founded in 1992 by John Ridgeon to promote and improve popular music education in the UK. The first Access to Music head office was in Leicester. The music school formed a partnership with Leicester College followed by partnerships with regional colleges.
The second Access to Music centre opened in Bristol in 1999 and the York and London branches opened in 2002. The first Access to Music award ceremony, hosted by Sir George Martin, took place in London in 2003. Subsequent award ceremonies took place in various locations around the country, including O2 Academy Birmingham and Liverpool Sound City, and have been hosted by BBC Radio DJs Lauren Laverne and Edith Bowman. The music college expanded to Brighton and Lincoln in 2004 with centres opening in both cities.
In 2009, Access to Music was acquired by Armstrong Learning, a Manchester-based education and training provider. In 2011, the head office re-located from Leicester to Birmingham, with an administrative centre established in Manchester. In 2011, Access to Music launched a new centre in Darlington based at The Forum Music Centre which later closed. In 2013, the college in Norwich moved from its King Street location to Epic Studios.
The York centre created and organised Access to Music's first trade fair at York St John University in early April 2014  and Access to Music presented a Masterclass at the first Brighton Music Conference, an electronic music event. In the summer of 2014 plans were finalised for a new centre in Manchester, opening in early October. The centre was situated in the basement of the St. James's Buildings on Oxford Street, the former location of the music venues Jilly's Rockworld and Music Box.
In September 2017, Access to Music released its 2018 further education prospectus under a new brand name of Access Creative College. It updated its website shortly afterwards. The name change was introduced to reflect a broader curriculum offer covering the wider creative industries, including games development, digital media, marketing, events and drama.
Courses and accreditations
Access to Music delivered courses at both Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) levels. It also designed its own FE music curriculum in partnership with Rockschool, the UK’s only rock and pop accrediting body and Edexcel. The HE curriculum was designed in conjunction with RNCM and BCU.
- Level 1 – Introduction to Music
- Level 2 – Music Performance, Music Technology and Music Business
- Level 3 – Music Performance, Music Business, Music Technology (Music Production and Sound Engineering) and Vocal Artist
- Level 4 – Artist Development
- BMus Popular Music Performance, in partnership with BCU
- BA (Hons) Music Business, validated by BCU, and Popular Music Performance, validated by RNCM
Access to Music was inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in late 2012 and was found to exceed expectations in the following categories:
- The quality of the curriculum, course provision, teaching and learners’ achievement
- Students’ welfare, including health and safety
- The effectiveness of governance, leadership and management
Notable alumni include:
- Ed Sheeran
- Ria Ritchie
- Jess Glynne
- Rita Ora, singer-songwriter/actress
- Vanessa White, singer-songwriter
Access to Music has appeared or participated at the following events:
- Brighton Electric
- Glastonbury Festival
- Latitude Festival
- Liverpool Sound City
- The Great Escape Festival
- Birmingham City University
- Creative & Cultural Skills
- European Social Fund
- PGL (company)
- Royal Northern College of Music
- Parker, Catherine. "Heath Mill Studios Music Training Centre Launched". PAB news. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
- Skills Funding Agency. "Register of Training Organisations - July 2012 v3" (PDF). Skills Funding Agency. Retrieved 1 May 2014.[permanent dead link]
- Birmingham City University. "Popular Music - BMus". Birmingham City University. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Birmingham City University. "Music Business - BA (Hons)". Birmingham City University. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Royal Northern College of Music. "Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Popular Music Performance". Royal Northern College of Music. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- PRS for Music. "School of Rock". PRS for Music. Archived from the original on 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2014-05-02.
- B-Side Project. "Events". B-Side Project. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
- Liverpool Live. "Liverpool Sound City and Echo Arena to host UK Music Student Awards". Liverpool Live. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- The Northern Echo (29 Jan 2014). "The Forum, in Darlington, reveals plans for expansion". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- Freezer, David (13 Aug 2013). "Access to Music set for full move to Epic Studios in Norwich". EDP24. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- The York Press (3 Apr 2014). "Access To Music take part in Expo event". The York Press. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- Brighton Music Conference. "Saturday - 10.30-11.15 - 'Access to Music Masterclass' with Jimmy Day". Brighton Music Conference. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Graham, James (4 August 2014). "Music school to open at ex-Rockworld site". TheBusinessDesk.com. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- Insider News North West (5 August 2014). "Music college for former Jilly's Rockworld site". Insider Media Limited. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- MPA. "Manchester's creative scene set for musical revival with major new academic centre". MPA. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Access Prospectus 2018". issuu. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
- "Access Creative College | Media | Games Design | Music | Education". Access Creative College - the new name for Access to Music. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
- Haynes, Neil. "Independent Schools Inspectorate Report" (PDF). Independent Schools Inspectorate. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Stanley, Steven. "Access to Music Ltd: Learning and Skills inspection report". Ofsted. Archived from the original on 6 July 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Knights, Emma. "Access to Music students get set for an acoustic talent showcase in Norwich". EDP24. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- Annalisa. "Music students ride road to success". Guestlist. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- Barker, Matt; Coquet, Nick; Yau, Matthew. "New In Town: November". The Brighton Source. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- Kidz Field. "Kidz Field Line Up 2013". Kidz Field. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- Culture Works East. "Latitude Festival Arts Award Programme 2013" (PDF). Culture Works East. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- The Great Escape Festival. "Alternative Escape Programme - Thursday". The Great Escape Festival. Retrieved 20 May 2014.