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Topic: best film music school in LA

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Abel's Avatar
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    best film music school in LA

    a little off topic but...

    which school of film music would you recommend in LA?
    Which is the most respected, prestigious, with best teachers?

    many thanks for any help,
    Abel

  2. #2

    Re: best film music school in LA

    It\'s been quite a while since I lived in Los Angeles, but two former composers that I studied with teach at UCLA Extension and USC. I think that USC doesn\'t have a film music major, but some classes on it. UCLA Extension probably doesn\'t award a regular degree for their film program, but then a degree in film music would mean nothing anyway; it is more the knowledge that you\'d be after.

  3. #3

    Re: best film music school in LA

    If SR is right that we are more after working knowledge/networking than actual certifications/degrees (assuming you don\'t want to formally teach), would the time not be better spent interning or working for no/low pay in the industry - reserving academic environment only after the the industry avenues are underway or exhausted?

  4. #4

    Re: best film music school in LA

    I recently finished 5 quarters of study at UCLA extension. Here\'s what I know:

    Both UCLA and USC have certificate programs, meaning you get a little piece of paper at the end of your studies.

    UCLA is a lot more casual in it\'s approach, allowing you greater flexibility in the classes you choose to take.

    Though I had some great teachers at UCLA, I believe USC has more prominently named musicians heading their classes.

    The largest ensmeble I wrote for at UCLA was 31 players. USC film scoring students routinely get assignments for up to 70-80 players.

    UCLA is a fraction of the cost. You can take as many classes as you want and most are offerered twice a year.

    For me, the best part of UCLA was learning to write for live ensembles. Prior to my stint there, I had no experience with traditional orchestral composition. But writing for LA session players on a weekly basis really improved my writing chops.

    The weakest part of the whole program was its attention to the scoring process. Our assignments were typically culled from lame 80\'s TV shows. Our teachers were often the very same composers for those lame 80\'s TV shows. Put that one together.

    That in mind, I learned a lot from those older guys and even more from some of the fresh, younger talent coming in. One of the newer teachers there is one of the best I\'ve ever had in any academic endeavour.

    Going to UCLA or USC is not going to get you a job. You have to hustle a little bit to take it beyond the academic realm. But you will meet people in your field and that\'s half the equation. Ironically, I got an internship while I was a student on my own, no help from UCLA. From there, I got a job.

    Academic efforts are by no means a necessary requirement for getting work in Hollywood. In fact, some of the more successful composers I\'ve met think it\'s a detriment. (I disagree). For me, UCLA was like a guerrilla\'s guide to writing for orchestra. That\'s what I wanted to get out of it and that\'s what I got.

  5. #5

    Re: best film music school in LA

    Having attended the USC film scoring program as a graduate student 2 years ago....I would have to say it was the right decision for me. USC has been a foot in the door for me. And the best thing you get out of it at the end.....is a kick sounding demo consisting of multiple cues, scored to big Hollywood pictures, that was recorded at Paramount Stage M, with their engineers and LA studio musicians. (Rick Baptist is the trumpet player on most of my cues). Cues from this demo helped get me an agent recently.

    Seriously, USC has built a strong relationship with the studios (especially Paramount) and those experiences alone in my opinion is worth it price in the end. There are good instructors at both programs.....but with the ones at USC, you have heard of most of them. (Christopher Young, Elmer Bernstein, Jack Smalley just to name a few). David Raskin has retired now.

    You have a good \"in\" to the film school students at USC....but just know that as a USC film scoring student, you can always go over to UCLA and advertise to score their student films as well. People in my class did that all the time as well cause some of their student films were actually better than USC\'s student films.

  6. #6

    Re: best film music school in LA

    I was told that the diploma/degree track at either school was well worth it, strictly for contacts and relationship-building alone. Since I live about 1 mile from UCLA\'s music department, I\'ve been giving it some thought, but the day job has to quiet down enough to let me do the evening and weekend thing. So far, it\'s been tough...

  7. #7

    Re: best film music school in LA

    Question for you guys. Have any of you heard things about the film scoring program at the Berklee College of Music in Boston? If so, what have you heard?

    Jared

  8. #8

    Re: best film music school in LA

    I have a friend who is from Boston and went to Berkley College of Music for their Film Scoring Program. Afterwards, he then moved to LA and did the USC program as a graduate student. I know he feels the USC program was a lot better in terms of giving an individual specific experience in scoring music to picture. There were basic things he learned here that he was not even shown at Berkley. Plus, with the relationship to the movie studios out here.....there is really little comparison.

    But, I know USC is trying to cut the number of students they accept into their program. By limiting the size to 12-15 people a year....they can give their students even more resources and attention. So...it will get harder and harder to get in to USC\'s program.

    Another hint on getting into USC....they place a lot of weight on one\'s ability to write for live musicians and your orchestration technique. People who come from the computer/midi world only and who have never written for live musicians will have a distinct disadvantage. Hence their requirement for a Bachelors degree in composition at a minimum. But.....it is possible to bypass that requirement and appeal to the admissions committee if you can show you are at the graduate level in composing and orchestrating music. While knowing your way around the computer is essential in this day and age.....at USC, they really go back and want you to learn it the old fashion way first with pen and paper....and click tempo books with bpm conversions......and free time conducting to a clock and streamers, etc....etc....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Abel's Avatar
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    Re: best film music school in LA

    A degree does not matter, since I already have a MD in composition [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
    My main problem is, that I live in Poland and nobody is going to give me a scholarship for \"interning or working for no/low pay in the industry\" [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    I have heard UCLA Extension has some splendid names teaching film music...

    What do you think?

  10. #10

    Re: best film music school in LA

    Originally posted by Abel:
    A degree does not matter, since I already have a MD in composition [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
    My main problem is, that I live in Poland and nobody is going to give me a scholarship for \"interning or working for no/low pay in the industry\" [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    I have heard UCLA Extension has some splendid names teaching film music...

    What do you think?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">If you want to attempt to break into film music in Los Angeles, you need to go to Los Angeles. UCLA Extension has (or at least had when I lived in Los Angeles) some good folks teaching there. Look at it this way, what are the alternatives to either UCLA Extension or classes at USC?

    The only benefit of USC is they have a very established film program for directors/writers, so you can get in on doing some small projects for free that will actually at least get made (the students have to complete them for their degree) and you can put them on your reel.

    Bring a lot of money, Los Angeles is not cheap just to live. And to compete, you\'re probably going to have to fund music budgets out of your own pocket on the free projects you do at first... hiring live players to sweeten the synth stuff, etc.

    It\'s a great adventure, though! And if you feeled compelled to go, do it. Much, much luck to you whatever you decide.

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