February 25, 2002 Vol. VI, No. 11

Northridge Seeks a Hit with Media Composing Program

The songs and melodies that accompany movies, television and theatrical performances are what Cal State Northridge assistant music professor Elizabeth Sellers calls "the music of the future." And Sellers is hoping the university will have a big future in preparing music students to enter those burgeoning fields.

Two and a half years after arriving at Northridge, the veteran conductor and composer has helped the Music Department develop a revised and expanded specialization in media composition, with a full rotation of classes set to begin this fall. About 20 music students are already involved, and more are expected to join.

"We at Cal State Northridge have a unique opportunity to be a leader in film music education in this region," Sellers said. "It's a popular field, and we are in an industry town. In fact, in the San Fernando Valley, we are in the best place for it," she added, citing the Valley having the largest concentration of entertainment industry jobs in the state.

"Media composers have a huge audience. I had several billion people listening to my work for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games," Sellers said. "Much of the music that people consume today is media oriented-from films, television and videos-as opposed to music that people would consume sitting in concert halls."

Not that many universities, even in Southern California, currently offer degree-based programs in creating music for films and such, Sellers said. Some universities offer certificate programs, but often only for those who are already working professionals in the field. The CSUN program will start with undergraduates and bring them to their degrees.

The Music Department's revised 33-unit program in commercial and media writing includes three new courses, Beginning Media Composition, Vocal Arranging for Media, and the division of a prior course into two new ones, Advanced Media Composition and Advanced Media Orchestration. The program now also includes on- and off-campus internships.

For music students attending Cal State Northridge, Sellers said, the media composition specialization offers a good opportunity at post-graduation employment for those who are well prepared. "I think our students are clamoring for this, because it's a way for them to keep working," Sellers said. "And it's a really fun thing for them to do."

@csun | February 25, 2002 issue
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