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ARTICLE: ASPIRING COMPOSERS - Should You Study Film Music In Higher Education?

In days gone by it was generally accepted that a university degree was a necessary requirement for securing a professional career role. However, as times have progressed and the industry landscape has changed, more and more people are beginning to questions the importance of a formal university education in the path of becoming a film composer. In this article we explore the benefits of studying music in higher education, and wether or not this is needed for those looking to become a film composer in 2023. Guest article form Kyle Corbin.

1. Contact With Established Professionals

It can be quite difficult to grasp the workload, balance and knowledge needed to

succeed within the world of film music without relevant conversations with current

industry musicians. Having been in the industry for some time, these professionals will

be able to prepare you for the reality of becoming a full-time media composer. Being

in such an environment where professionals are able and willing to share knowledge

and advise on areas that you may be uncertain of can greatly increase your understanding of the career path you are striving towards. However, if you can secure a placement at a music studio, then you will be thrust straight into a professional working environment and you will have to learn rather quickly about the truth of being a part of the music business.

1-1 time with university tutors can be a great source of information on the realities of a career in the music industry.

2. Networking

Composers are very different. Some are extremely instrumental, having mastered

multiple instruments. Some may have mastered only one, yet have a passion for writing orchestral music. Others don’t play any instruments, and instead specialise in exploring the world of sound design and music production. No matter your background or skillset, you will be amongst like-minded individuals who all have extremely varied credentials. A networking family on whose strengths you can draw on and also make meaningful contributions. Furthermore, with a variety of

backgrounds comes a variety of musical interests. The supply of varied musical styles

your peers will be keen to share with you will undeniably open your mind to a fresh

approach to writing. Nonetheless, one of the joys of the music industry and arts as a whole is that networking can happen anywhere at any time such as an off the cuff conversation at a coffee shop or a convention for film and TV enthusiasts. However, one of the hardest things about networking is being in a position where you can share views, skills and work with other people, especially on a regular basis. Therefore, while university may be a great platform for engaging with composers, musicians and producers regularly, it is definitely not the only place that networking is possible.

University is the perfect place to make connections and begin establishing your professional network.

3. Increased Demand for Composers

With an increase in filmmakers and the surge of streaming platforms, the demand for

composers is ever on the rise. The skills and techniques that you develop during higher

education will no doubt improve your business acumen and eventually your employability. One concern may be that with an increase in movies being made, more

relationships between filmmakers and composers are being born and you may

fear that the competition for composers is only on the rise. Yet, there are a large

number of filmmakers within higher education who you can collaborate with. It is no secret that finding work as a composer at first can be tough, however student

filmmakers will much appreciate a custom soundtrack for their film, and student films

are a brilliant way to hone your skills and further your career as a composer.

As film & television streaming continues to grow, their is an increased demand for trained composers.

4. Exploring Alternative Pathways

You may feel like you have your pathway well planned in your mind, however studying music for film in higher education will introduce you to numerous branches within the industry. There are different paths aside from composing which may play well to your strengths, paths that you may have not considered or even be aware of, or styles of music that you hadn’t considered writing previously. As a mind once expanded cannot return to its original state, you may be swayed to follow an alternate pathway. Studying music for film in higher education will also expose you to new techniques including mixing, mastering, synthesis, sound design and sampling. Learning these techniques may not make you a master of all of them, however they will most definitely make you a more complete musician. You may discover that you are much better at some of these techniques than you previously thought, and later find yourself exploring a new career journey.

The facilities and topics of study offered by a university program can expose you to new career pathways.

5. Feedback From Industry Professionals

The work you produce during your studies will be evaluated by industry professionals. Not only will they be able to advise from a musical perspective, but they will also be able to share opinions of others such as directors or musical supervisors with regard to your

quality of work. This professional feedback is extremely valuable and could even be instrumental in preparing you for future setbacks. Furthermore, you are not limited to just showing them assigned tasks but if you have external projects that you think need an extra pair of ears, they are more than willing to listen and advise. Despite the advice you get from well respected people in the industry, it is always important to not define you or your music’s worth on the words of these individuals but rather, be encouraged by their advice and also trust in your own belief and ability to make it as a media composer.

Feedback from your tutors and peers can help you grow your skills immensely during your studies.


We most definitely think that studying film music at degree level is a worthwhile undertaking. The skills and knowledge gained over 3-4 years of focused study, combined with the opportunities for networking will help to put you in a strong position for future success. But just remember, whilst university has many benefits, the truth is that it wont be for everyone, and possessing a degree its not an essential requirement for a long term career as a film composer. This was a guest artcile written by Kyle Corbin. We hope you enjoyed checking out this post. Please consider subscribing to our mailing list for more articles like this, and to be notified of orchestra recording session opportunities.


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