• Production still from SERSE
  • french horns
  • choir and orchestra
  • pianist, clarinetist, and violinist
  • violin section of orchestra
  • wind orchestra
  • Jazz Band on stage

Commercial and Media Writing Audition

BACHELOR OF MUSIC - Commercial & Media Writing

This degree is primarily a scoring degree.  You will also learn songwriting and vocal arranging, but the majority of the work is in instrumental composition and orchestration.  Because of that we ask that you have prior training in classical or jazz styles in an instrument or in voice. Be sure to read the audition performance expectations below.

Transfer students should come in with transferable required music classes in order to finish the degree with 140 units or less.

CSUN Music’s Commercial and Media Writing option has been in place for 15 years.  It is affiliated with the Composition area and currently has 60 students in the program.

Applicants will pass an audition on their primary instrument, and after an interview with the head of the Media option, and formal acceptance to the option, they will enter the program. MUS 221, Songwriting, serves as the commercial arranging requirement and must be passed with a minimum grade of B.  MUS 388, Studio Ensemble, is another important arranging opportunity and is currently under consideration as a requirement.

Placement exams are part of evaluation after the applicant is accepted.  Those include exams in theory, oral skills, piano proficiency and knowledge of orchestration.  

Entrance Requirements

  • Performance audition with the appropriate applied area (keyboard, woodwinds, voice, etc.). (Look under Audition Requirements for the necessary repertoire for auditions).
  • On campus interview with the head of the Media option, to be scheduled the same day the instrumental or vocal audition takes place; no previous appointment required.
  • Portfolio of 3 compositions in different styles (submit pdfs of scores, mp3 of matching recordings, and letter of intent to showing dramatic range, and ability to use instrumental samples in a current DAW (Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase, ProTools).  Your ability to understand how orchestral or jazz ensembles work together, how to write for them and how their music looks on a score, is a critical requirement.
  • A letter of intent discussing musical background and goals should be sent along with your pdf scores and mp3 submissions to
  • All materials due as soon as audition application is submitted

Successful completion or transfer of 100 and 200 level core classes and MUS 221 Songwriting leads to the majority of the media work.  300-level classes required for the option include MUS 307 Music From a Global Perspective, MUS 315A Orchestration, MUS 316 Analysis, MUS 317A Jazz Arranging, MUS 321 Beginning Composition, MUS 322 Beginning Media Composition, MUS 364/L Instrumental Conducting, MUS 391 Midi Sequencing, MUS 397/R Music Recording.  We strongly recommend MUS 388 Studio Ensemble as a suitable ensemble requirement. Studio is a lab band and offers practice in arranging and writing in commercial styles.

The 400-level classes include MUS 419 Music Industry Studies, MUS 420A Media Composition, MUS 420B Media Orchestration, MUS 422A Individual Lessons in Composition, MUS 483ME Music Entrepreneurship, MUS 494A CSUN Internship, MUS 494A/B Outside Internship, and MUS 495 Senior Recital.

All students in the music department are entitled to private lessons after audition on their instrument. Commercial And Media Writing Option music students receive 4 semesters of 1/2 hour lessons. All music students take the Musicianship sequence after placing into the appropriate level. 6 levels of Musicianship or their equivalent are required for the Bachelor of Music. Other department requirements include Keyboard and Music History classes.

Facilities at CSUN Music include two labs, a larger MIDI lab serving technology classes and a smaller project lab.  It is strongly suggested that Media students have their own laptop with a DAW of their choice and entry-level instrument samples.

The ideal Commercial And Media Writing Option student is comfortable with technology, is eager to write in many styles, understands basic orchestration techniques, reads music in all clefs and plays keyboards.

For more information, please contact:

Kyle Simpson
Department of Music
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, California 91330-8314