Film, Game, Media Scoring Graduates Compose Careers in Diverse Musical Landscapes
Graduates of SFCM's Technology and Applied Composition Program are sound designers, film composers, game scorers, successful performing music artists, and working media professionals at major companies.
Welcome to a world where the hum of computer circuitry fuses with the crescendo of orchestral strings, and the click-clack of a mouse orchestrates a new digital sonata: You're at the heart of SFCM's Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program.
First introduced in 2014, TAC is a first-of-its-kind course of study that gives students a direct path into the worlds of film and game scoring, sound design, media composition, and music production. The program's popularity has grown immensely: In 2023 the program celebrated more than 100 graduates, and of those alumni, according to a recent survey, more than 90 percent are employed in the field of their choosing, working at companies like Sony, Ubisoft, and Electronic Arts.
In this realm the melody of progress is played on the keys of boundless imagination, and it shows in the range of SFCM's graduates. 2019 graduate Jana Ma, now known by the moniker JVNA, is a professional electronic artist who just put out her second album Play With You and has been busy touring, "Being able to headline shows at iconic venues like the Fonda Theatre [in Los Angeles] and [New York's] Webster Hall is amazing," she said. Known for her blend of classical and EDM, JVNA credits the TAC program for helping her grow as an artist. "The TAC program is very open and receptive to the student's creativity and doesn't let the strictness of classical music define the curriculum," she added.
From the stage to the studio, Kyle Randall, ('16) is working as a sound designer and music editor with the podcast company Wondery. Randall works on bringing stories sans a visual element to life through music. "The idea is to make the audience feel like they're immersed in the world of the shows, and to bring the stories to life through sound and music," he said. Randall has worked on popular podcast shows Business Wars, Dr. Death, WeCrashed, and Blood Ties. Randall says the projects' challenges are exciting, "What sound does a color-shifting animal make, for instance?"
Randall has since developed his own voice when composing music, something he traces back to his time at SFCM. "The TAC program was an invaluable resource for me in getting established in the wider media world," he said, "and the principles of sound design and music for media and scoring have all been instrumental in finding my own style." He advises young music students to be open to new ideas and job positions—especially when starting their careers. "You never know what projects will lead to new and unexpected opportunities," he added. "As long as you can maintain a balance you’re happy with, you can always have music in your life."
If you've watched Netflix's hit new show One Piece or recently played the game Fortnite, you've likely heard music worked on by TAC graduate Molly Monahan, ('20). Not long after graduation, Monahan got a job at a computer gaming company and then Facebook (Meta). "The stability there was great but I really missed working around music, and also missed being around people," Monahan said. This led her to a position as studio manager back at SFCM. Since becoming a full-time freelancer in 2023, Monahan has pulled some of her biggest projects, like One Piece and the PlayStation 5 game Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. "I feel so lucky and honored to be able to work alongside great people on such huge projects and challenge myself in a variety of different fields," she said.
She advises young composers to learn technical skills at the same pace as they find their creative voice, "There are so many exciting careers in music that didn’t exist a decade ago, and so much coming on the horizon," she said. She credits SFCM's TAC program for helping her achieve these abilities, "Learning skills in the vast world of audio outside of just music can improve your ears, broaden your creative sound palette, and open you up to career opportunities," Monahan said of her time in the TAC program. "Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Your music and your career will thank you later."
For TAC graduate Jon Parra, ('22) his career has taken him from the silver screen to the video game world and even onto the NBA court. Under his moniker of Shyloom, he helped compose custom music for the LA Clippers' 2022-2023 player intro music. "My composition in the Crypto.com arena with all of the other productions on the court was unreal," he said.
Working as a composer, Shyloom has created music for the film John Wick: Chapter 4 and the campaign for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in addition to numerous trailers and commercials with the NFL, HBO MAX, Netflix, Fox, and PlayStation. He encourages students to get as much experience as early as they can, "If I hadn't researched freelance gigs throughout my years at SFCM, I wouldn't be doing music full-time now. After graduating, I reached out to my music partners I connected with throughout college and offered my availability for additional work because my bandwidth opened up," he said.
Parra says his diverse catalog wouldn't have happened without SFCM. "The TAC program creatively broadened my horizons and pushed me outside my limits, which I know wouldn't have been possible had I tried to pursue that independently," he continued. "It has allowed me to explore different areas of music technology that I didn't know existed."
From the concert stage to the studios and screens of movies, TV and video games, the world of music production is only going to continue to evolve. With these alumni as inspiration, listeners across the world are in for a treat as the current and future crops of SFCM students embark on the symphony of their future.
Learn more about studying Technology and Applied Composition at SFCM.