Contemporary Music student Glenn Hopper only found out about the LA Experience two days before applications were due. He got it in and just a few weeks later found himself in LA, at the University of Southern California’s Thornton Music School. The LA Experience is an annual program run by the school, inviting students from partner institutions, such as the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, to join local students in a busy, week-long program of lectures, masterclasses, tours and concerts.
Each morning during their week abroad students got together for breakfast followed by artistic masterclasses and ‘Career Building’ sessions, focussed on subjects ranging from producing an album to performing and touring.
“To hear from so many experienced and successful LA musicians was fantastic, their advice and stories will continue to be great resources for me going forward with my career”
“LA is both a very lucrative and competitive musical arena, so the stories of perseverance and dedication were inspiring. Stories of getting to LA, opening the phone book, and calling every person until you found someone who needed a piano player. Or driving around the Hollywood hills and sitting in on every jam that happened between 10 o’clock at night until 4am just so people would know your face and what instrument you played. It’s all a little too aggressive for a city like Sydney, but the essence of what they were telling in their stories was motivational.”
The group of students were invited to spend an entire day at Capitol Records, whose recording artists have included Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Blondie and David Bowie.
“The Capitol Records producer, engineers, and team of session musicians were there all day just to show us how they worked,” Glenn said.
“They were all amazing artists who had worked with Steely Dan, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Chick Corea and many more. We got to swap in with their session musicians and try our hand at tracking the song (a very humbling experience), see how they recorded everything, ask questions and hear a lot of stories.”
Each night was spent visiting the many bars and music venues in LA, to catch gigs by local bands and artists. When asked about the highlight of his trip Glenn said:
“One of the best things for me was meeting all the other students who had come to take part in the course. We all made great friends fast and would go out to bars and venues each night to hear more music. They were an extremely talented and lovely group of people, and our conversations reflecting on what we were being taught were another great resource of lessons for me.”
“LA is a massive city and seeing it for only a week felt like no time at all. We were so fortunate to have at our disposal the connections of Thornton Dean, Robert Cutietta, and our guide and facilitator, Jonathan ‘Capitol’ Patterson, allowing us to see into so many parts of the LA music industry in such a short time.”
“The biggest takeaway for me was observing the social and business skills that were necessary to thrive in that scene. These aspects of career building are hard to teach so I felt very grateful to hear the lessons and advice that these people had to offer.”
While still completing his Bachelor of Music (Contemporary Music Practice) studies with us, you can catch Glenn performing around Sydney under his musical moniker Skinny Legions.
After years of pandemic-related travel restrictions, students from Sydney Conservatorium of Music are returning to the world stage to further their musical artistry and develop personal skills.