Looking out over Los Angeles from behind the Hollywood sign

Students make music in LA

23 October 2019
Real-life work experience in Hollywood industry
A scholarship enabled two students to jet off to the United States to take up an internship in a studio that produces music for visual media. They tell us what they learned.

Chloe Sinclair, who is taking a Bachelor of Music with honours in composition, and her brother Liam Sinclair, who is studying for a Bachelor of Music (Digital Music and Media) have just returned from two weeks at Matter Music in Hollywood, a studio that records and produces music for film, television, music videos and other projects. Chloe and Liam worked with Ric Markmann, an Emmy-award winning composer, producer and performer.

The pair travelled to LA on a Vice Chancellor’s Global Mobility Award. These awards offer support to undergraduate students to undertake a semester exchange or short-term program overseas.

Here, they tell us a bit about their experience making music in the City of Angels.

Liam Sinclair at the Matter Music studio production desk

Liam Sinclair at work in the Matter Music studio in Los Angeles.

Why did you choose to study at the Con?

Liam: Studying a Bachelor of Digital Music and Media highlights the practical recording and digital composition skills needed to work in the modern music industry.

Chloe: The flexibility of an honours year appealed to me. I liked the idea of creating my own thesis topic and the freedom of elective subjects.

Tell us about your internship experience.

Chloe: We have built an ongoing working relationship with film composer Ric Markmann, this is the third time we’ve worked with him in LA. I arranged several string parts for a short film and even got to perform on several takes.

Liam: I got to use skills I’ve gained at the Con in a professional working environment. Everything from recording vocal takes to marking in audio, dialogue and SFX cues.

Chloe Sinclair in the Matter Music studio surrounded by musical instruments and memorabilia

Chloe Sinclair in the Matter Music studio.

What did you do day-to-day?

Liam: We got to see the ins and outs of working in a professional recording studio.

The first week we were working on a short film. We were given tasks such as recording Foley [everyday sound effects, such as doors creaking or glass breaking], and sorting through unnamed audio files – even professional studios can be given nightmare session files.

Chloe: During the second week we had time to work on our own composition projects. We had complete access to everything we needed, such as high-end microphones, pre-amps and one-of-a-kind instruments.

What did you learn during your internship?

Liam: Beyond the technical and musical side of things, perhaps the most interesting thing was seeing that even Hollywood film composers have to deal with the stress and headaches of creating a concise and clear digital audio workstation (DAW) session. Organisation really is everything, especially when time is money.

Liam Sinclair, chin in hand, at music production desk with digital screens.

Liam Sinclair at work in the Matter Music studio.

Why should students complete an internship?

Chloe: An internship is an incredible opportunity to gain real-world experience in an industry you are keen to work in.

What were the benefits of completing an internship?

Liam: It showed us a clear path and gave us confidence that working towards becoming a professional musician is an achievable goal. It gave me a two-week insight to what I want my career to look like.

Chloe: It showed me the flexibility of being a modern composer. You can compose pop as well as classical music. Being a jack-of-all-trades is a valuable skill.

What career are you hoping to have?

Liam: I want to work in Los Angeles as a studio composer, writing music for all forms of media.

Chloe: I want to keep working on multiple different projects, everything from commissioned classical works to writing music for film and performing in pop bands.