The Commercial and Media Writing option for
the Department of Music teaches the students to write for films, TV, video, games, songs,
and live performance. Incoming students can expect to learn instrumental composition for commercial writing primarily. The classes they will take will be song writing, film scoring, theory, history, conducting, arranging, and many other classes taught by me and five
other professionals. To get into the option, students come in with music training from
high school, they can sing, they can play an instrument, they play piano, they know
their way around a computer. Students have to be accepted to the university, and then
they do an audition and portfolio review with me. I tell them to be very organized. They
really have to be good time managers. You have to love it, you have to know in your
heart that music isn’t what you do, it’s who you are, and then you make those sacrifices.
It’s an internal internship, students are interned to the film department. Many of them
end up writing for the senior film projects, for the animation students, for multimedia
projects, for documentaries and they do fabulous work. This is the creative part, this is writing the music that a mixer or a producer or someone in a booth would be mixing into audio production
sound or dialogue. There are only a few schools around the country that offer this program.
We really are one of the only ones in this area that offer an undergraduate degree in
film scoring and writing. When students leave, they generally work as apprentices or interns,
paid interns with other commercial composers and then generally, they get hired by their
intern mentors. Many of my students start their own businesses. Students go on and do
the film scoring program at USC. They have a tremendous amount of work ready to show
someone by the time they’re done. They really make a lot of connections in the industry,
as well as taking what they’ve done at CSUN as their calling card and presenting it to
people who might need a beginning worker in their studio, or might need someone on a low
budget film. There are lots of ways that students can go from being a student to a professional.
I spend a lot of time with students, making sure that they feel confident about their
work, but then it’s up to them. They have to go out and sell it.