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Composer discusses careers in music industry

Rachel Rahal | Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Monday, composer Mark L. Priest, delivered a lecture titled “Life After a Music Degree: Writing Music for Visual Media,” elaborating on how he discerned his own career path in the music industry.

Priest earned his Bachelor of Science in Music Education at New York University then went on to receive his masters in orchestral composition for the media at the City University of New York, he said. He went on to teach music in public schools but then decided to shift to different aspect in the industry.

“Teaching and lecturing was not enough. Ever since high school, I always wanted to be a composer,” Priest said.  

 Priest said in recent years, the field of music in Media has become highly competitive with the rise of technology, and USA Today listed “Music Directors and Composers” third on the list of “Top 10 Fastest Growing Jobs.”

“There is potential to make a good living, but beware of the rapidly growing competition,” Priest said. “The downside is that many people are going back to school to obtain this degree, making this a more competitive field to find work in.”     

Priest said music in a film is invaluable because of its ability to alter or amplify any given mood.

The right kind of music can add to what is being portrayed while the wrong kind of music can detract from what is being portrayed, he said, and the result is created where the composer sits down with the director to decide the moods of a given scene and what they want to portray through music in that scene.  

“Great music impacts emotions just as story telling does,” Priest said.

Currently, Priest performs with the Indiana University-South Bend orchestra and teaches private lessons in piano composition to local students. He conducts strings for a local junior high orchestra but hopes to eventually conduct with a larger orchestra one day. Priest said he also attends conferences across the nation to further his interest in composing music for media purposes.

“Take risks because jobs will not come to you, you must find them,” he said. “I love what I do because I have the opportunity to compose with any type of instrument as well as being able to hear my music being performed.”   

Contact Rachel Rahal at rrahal@saintmarys.edu