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The Story Behind
the Music

Jay Weigel, an accomplished composer, producer, conductor, arranger, and orchestrator leads his students in the College of Music and Media through the storytelling of film scores and creates opportunities for students to gain real world experience in the TV and film industry.

Film scores move the story along, highlighting the ups and downs and plot twists and moments of reunion and the happily ever after and the epic battle scenes. Scores are there to emphasize the moment a character realizes they’re in love and the moment when a character realises they’ve been betrayed. It’s all part of the story.

Jay Weigel, instructor of Loyola’s film score class, wants to use this class to change the entire outlook of a career as a composer. Students can be more than just musicians, they become storytellers.

Jay Weigel
Jay Weigel

I run the class very much like an apprenticeship. Like if you were going to learn to be a blacksmith, you go work for a blacksmith and you learn how to craft by doing.

In the class, Weigel begins with the history of film composers and the history of film music. Students learn about famous composers like Hans Zimmer (The Lion King), John Barry (Bond films), and the late Alan Silverstri (Forrest Gump). In order to understand the industry, Weigel believes students need to also know the important names and contributions.

Students learn the fundamentals of film scoring by taking a specific style of film, analyze the scores of famous films and reduce the music down to an instrument level. They also analyze the musical tools the composers tend to uses in the different styles of scores, and then while implementing all the techniques they’ve learned - the students sit down and write their own piece of film score. Using scenes from famous films or films that Weigel has worked on, students write music to those scenes and work together to provide feedback for each other.

Outside of the classroom, Weigel has a flourishing career as a film composer, working on films such as Green Lantern, the last six of Tyler Perry's films including Meet the Browns and Madea Goes to Jail, HBO's Little Britain, I Love You Phillip Morris, and numerous documentaries and independent films.

Students holding instruments
Grounded in History

In the class, Weigel begins with the history of film composers and the history of film music. Students learn about famous composers like Hans Zimmer (The Lion King), John Barry (Bond films), and the late Alan Silverstri (Forrest Gump). In order to understand the industry, Weigel believes students need to also know the important names and contributions.

Student playing a piano
Critical Analysis

Students learn the fundamentals of film scoring by taking a specific style of film, analyze the scores of famous films and reduce the music down to an instrument level. They also analyze the musical tools the composers tend to uses in the different styles of scores, and then while implementing all the techniques they’ve learned - the students sit down and write their own piece of film score. Using scenes from famous films or films that Weigel has worked on, students write music to those scenes and work together to provide feedback for each other.

Student holding an instrument and reading sheet music
An Accomplished Composer

Outside of the classroom, Weigel has a flourishing career as a film composer, working on films such as Green Lantern, the last six of Tyler Perry's films including Meet the Browns and Madea Goes to Jail, HBO's Little Britain, I Love You Phillip Morris, and numerous documentaries and independent films.

It’s really important that you give feedback because learning how to give feedback that inspires your collaborator, doesn’t shut them down. It’s learning how to talk with one another and collaborate so we can all learn from one another to be better.

– Jay Weigel

Weigel was approached with an opportunity to produce some of the music for Green Book, the Best Picture winner at the 2018 Oscars and a movie shot in New Orleans. Through his connection with the music supervisor, he was able to put a band together of Loyola jazz students who portrayed musicians performing Weigel’s arrangement of the classic song “That Old Black Magic” in Green Book.

Weigel enjoys creating opportunities like this for Loyola students because it gives them a chance to be on set and see how many different people and different talents come together to create a film.

The College of Music and Media, due to consistently bringing in faculty who still work in the industry, have created an environment where students have opportunities, like perform in an Oscar-winning film, that don’t normally come their way.

What makes it powerful in my mind, on the one hand we’re still doing the work. The day I teach full-time is the day I quit being a value to the program. I’m valuable because every six months I’m learning new things, new software, what people want - and I share that with the kids.

– Jay Weigel

In the News

Sheet music for

Read the WGNO story about the students' involvement in Green Book

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Did you know?

The faculty in the College of Music and Media have more than 50 Grammy nominations, several Emmy awards and nominations, six Grammy awards, and one Sundance award?

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