My Mentorship with James Newton Howard

James Newton Howard and Me in his Santa Monica Studio

James Newton Howard and Me in his Santa Monica Studio

During my year studying film scoring at the University of Southern California, In had the great pleasure and honor to be mentored by famous composer James Newton Howard. 

In our meetings, I would show him my music. He was especially interested, if I had scored a scene, which was in a movie he was the original composer for. Coincidentally, right before the mentorship started, in November, I chose the final scene from Hidalgo for a recording session. 

Now, this story begins with him listening to it, and ... Not liking it.

His exact words were "I wouldn't keep much from that cue." 

So, I redid it - which is what composers for media and film have to do frequently anyway. 

I started from scratch, looked at JNH's original composition and tried to figure out, what he did. Not musically - but dramatically. 

This was the biggest learning curve for me during the whole program.

The two pieces of music - written to the exact same scene - showcase a general development and improvement I could gain during the one year program.

After all, the most important lesson to learn, was:

always try to improve, strive for excellence and ... Fight On!


This is the final version I conducted for my final scoring session in the USC program, featuring a 65-piece orchestra at the Eastwood Scoring Stage on the Warner Brothers lot.