Marginalia, Graduate Blog

LA Internship — Jon Brennan (Jeff Rona)

Steven Spiel

Jon Brennan

Jon Brennan

Wondering what the semester in LA, which caps off the two years spent in the Music Composition for the Screen MFA program in Chicago, is like? Take it from Jon Brennan, class of 2012.

What was your internship experience like?

The internships are one of the greatest parts of the LA semester. All of the things you learned in two years of graduate school immediately come to life right in front of you, and you’re a part of it.

Working at a smaller music house like Jeff Rona’s had several advantages. I was able to work closely with Jeff and his assistant. Jeff is now a personal friend and mentor. I was able to take on real responsibilities and have a real part in the music and business.

Jeff Rona

Jeff Rona

What were your specific responsibilities?

The biggest recommendation I have is to pitch in and volunteer help with a smile. Make yourself invaluable. A lot of the things I did came from overhearing conversations and seeing a need. The basic errands needed to be done: grocery shopping for the studio, mail runs, fixing light bulbs, and doing the dishes. I also went out of my way to find a friend’s truck to pick up studio furniture and sell equipment on eBay.

Jeff is a great guy, and I really valued his internship process and teaching.

After hours, I was encouraged to open sessions and add additional orchestration. In addition to custom scoring, Jeff has a music library called Liquid Cinema. One of my responsibilities was to go through all the email requests from composers for consideration. This was a great experience, one that really forced me to look closer at my own music.

Jon Brennan

Jon Brennan

After hours, I would generally have a few items to do, including creating custom mixes for live musicians to add parts and prepping tracks for mixing (setting up plug-in multi-outs). I also transcribed midi into notated sheet music for live players.

One of the best things was just being there and taking notes. For the month I was there, Jeff was scoring a new video game, finishing up a feature film, and writing music for a documentary. Seeing these things in action, along with the business of the music library, was the greatest learning experience.

What do you wish you would have known before you went to LA?

Columbia interns have a good reputation for knowing the technical side of scoring for film. I felt prepared. The lab classes at Columbia and working with Gary Chang were invaluable preparation.

What have you been up to since finishing the internship and graduating?

I am living back home in Cincinnati with my wife and daughter. I am teaching audio courses at Northern Kentucky University and building my personal business as a composer. The professional network and demo reel I gained from Columbia have been great for starting my career.

Thanks so much to Jon for sharing your experiences. If you want to connect with Jon, take a look at his website here!

LA Internship — Jon Brennan (Jeff Rona)

Wondering what the semester in LA, which caps off the two years spent in the Music Composition for the Screen MFA program in Chicago, is like? Take it from Jon Brennan, …

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