Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Cohort: Part 2

Steven Spiel

I’ve got four more Music Composition for the Screen MFA students to introduce today! If you haven’t checked out part one, do it now!

Tracie Turnbull

Tracie started piano at the age of 5, studying with her mother Debbie Turnbull. She started cello at the age of 12, studying with Carol Tarr. After high school, Tracie attended the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music from 2004 to 2008 and graduated with a BM in cello performance where she had the opportunity to study with Richard Slavich. She also performed with the Lamont Symphony Orchestra and multiple chamber groups while there. She was able to study with David Hanson for music composition lessons her last year there, and one of her orchestral pieces was chosen to be performed by the orchestra. After graduating, she taught hundreds of students privately and at a private Catholic school, St. Mary’s Academy. She also performed with a local rock band on cello and piano and with the Arapahoe Philharmonic.

What is your favorite thing about the program so far? 

I am excited to be at Columbia College Chicago, because I get to be taught by some of the best in the field. Our teachers are very knowledgeable and seem to want the best for all of us. The class that I look forward to the most is lab where I can finally properly learn how to use the software that is essential to composing.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration from many things—current movie scores to classics. One composer that always helps me is Shostakovich. Even if I am not writing anything similar to his music, he inspires me with his immense knowledge of music and instrumentation.

Check out Tracie’s work!


Jordan Lewis

Originally from New England, Jordan Lewis has lived and travelled all around the world, taking his music with him. Jordan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in English and Jazz Piano while also studying mandolin with Jamie Masefield of the Jazz Mandolin Project. After finishing school, Jordan spent a few years living and working in Busan, South Korea, teaching English and music to Korean students ages 6-16 and gigging as much as possible for an expat living in Asia. Upon returning to the US in late 2011, Jordan settled temporarily in Brooklyn, NY and began touring on keyboards with an indi band out of Vermont called Chamberlin. When not on the road, Jordan taught privately in five boroughs, wrote concert and album reviews for a music journal/blog, and gigged around the city. Recently, Jordan relocated to Chicago to pursue an MFA in Music Composition for the Screen at Columbia College Chicago while continuing to gig and teach as much as possible.

What do you love most about film composing?

I love the freedom of expression in film composing. Sure, it can be limiting in some ways, but, in many ways, it is a liberating medium for a composer.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration in all things—life, the universe, and everything.

Check out Jordan’s work!


Paul David Wilson

Paul has worked as a composer, conductor, songwriter, arranger, producer, and organizer. He has received Clio, BMI, and Grammy awards for his work. On January 2, 1999 at the age of 46, he suffered a massive and debilitating stroke. Paul is determined to finish what he started. He has an insatiable desire to learn more, and Columbia offers him opportunities to learn new techniques.

Why do you enjoy film scoring?

I can stretch my creativity. There are no bounds.

What advice do you have for budding composers?

Just write.

See more about Paul here!


Alexis Martin

Alexis Martin is a French/American film-music composer with a diverse background in hip-hop, classical music, and electronica. He has composed music for European film shorts and institutional videos, and, in the US, his work has been featured in the PBS “Historic Walking Tour” TV special (2011). He graduated with honors from Keele University (UK) focusing on 20th century composing and film composing. He continued his post-graduate studies in composition and harmonics at the Schola Cantorum in Paris.

What made you choose Columbia over other Schools?

The fact that I would be part of a group of young composers, all going to school through the same program, that the department had such a great reputation and so many people had come out of the program, that they provided internships in LA at the end, and the chance to live in Chicago and be part of a vibrant musical scene.

What advice do you have for those putting together applications right now?

Be creative. Show that you can write music like other composers who inspire you do, but also go beyond that. And, finally, expand your portfolio throughout as many genres as possible. Don’t be good at just one thing, and don’t make your music sound the same.

What advice do you have for budding composers?

Learn to put your ego aside and always be your work’s strongest critic. Sacrificing music you write is hard, but it only makes it better. Have confidence in your work, build your own musical identity, and always try to do something that no one has ever done before you.

Check out his website here!

Cohort: Part 2

I’ve got four more Music Composition for the Screen MFA students to introduce today! If you haven’t checked out part one, do it now! Tracie Turnbull Tracie started piano at …

Music Composition for the Screen MFA Steven Spiel, steven.spiel@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605