New to Chicago

New to Chicago

Conducting pieces for my graduate application

My name is Steven Spiel, and I am the next Graduate Student Ambassador for the Music Composition for the Screen MFA program at Columbia College Chicago.

I am new to the school and to the city but have loved each minute I have spent here. I’m happy to say that I’ll be blogging about my experiences at the school, and these posts will hopefully offer valuable insights into how the program functions and if it can serve you best. Feel free to shoot me an email or comment below if you have any questions or would like a little more information about how Columbia works. I promise to be open and honest with you!

The program is growing! I was just a part of the largest group of applicants the film program has ever seen (doubling last year’s). The program directors recently changed, and we are so lucky to have David McHugh and Gary Chang here to teach us. They are extremely well connected and have made excellent names for themselves in Hollywood, as well as excellent livings for themselves during their careers. They are both married with kids and are some of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met. It is so wonderful to have them, and through these blog posts, you’ll be able to catch more of a glimpse of their teaching capabilities and all that they have to offer in the program.

David McHugh (left) and Gary Chang (right)

It’s time for a little bit about me, so you can know where I am coming from. I grew up in a very musical environment and have always been fascinated by the way music moves people. I started experimenting with composition as early as ten years old, but I really got serious about it in high school. With eight years of piano, five years of percussion, and three years of guitar, I entered my bachelor’s degree program to eventually get a composite BMA in Composition and Organ. I had fabulous opportunities to work with gifted professors and to learn from talented mentors. While going to school, I student-taught for a variety of classes, including Theory and Aural Skills, Music Tech, and some ensembles. I spent much of my time writing for whichever ensembles would rehearse my pieces and made great friendships with performers and other composers as president of the university’s Student Composer’s Society. My advice would be to always look for new musical and compositional opportunities, especially if it is a little out of your comfort zone. That’s how you will grow as a composer and become more well-rounded to develop a mature sound.

Make sure to stay tuned, and I’ll see you next blog post!