Programme: Composition for Screen - MSc

Year: 2016

Since graduating from ECA in 2016 with an MSc in Composition for Screen, Jessica Kelly has written music for games, short films, apps, theatre, documentaries, a web series and various festivals. Jessica won 'Best Music Video' at the RoundGlass Music Awards in New York in January 2018, and has performed her music live at the Soundtrack Cologne awards ceremony.

Tell us about your time at ECA

Prior to my MSc, I graduated from the BMus (Hons) Music programme at ECA.

I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in composition. After experiencing what the University and the city of Edinburgh had to offer for music and creativity, it made sense to return and study the MSc in Composition for Screen at this respected institution.

The conducting experience I received on the course was a real highlight for me, as were the chances to develop my recording and production skills in the studios. We also collaborated on an international project called 10x10 with animators from ECA and other universities around the world. Everyone really enjoyed it.

For me, the best part of my postgraduate studies was meeting others who were on the same journey and who shared the same appetite for learning and developing. ECA attracts students from all over the world, making for a range of backgrounds and experiences. Everyone on my programme had a unique area of interest within music for screen, it really was an amalgamation of cultures. I was able to learn so much from my peers and was amazed at the level of their talent. Their enthusiasm has profoundly stayed with me and I am grateful for everything that I have learnt from them. 

Little Thing - Animated Short Film
Directed and animated by Or Kan Tor, Lyrics and voice by Jessica Kelly

"Take the opportunity to collaborate with others within ECA and beyond, such as directors, animators and students from the theatre, film and TV societies. The connections you make at university can be very fruitful"

Jessica Kelly, Composition for Screen - MSc (2016)

Tell us about your experiences since leaving ECA

Since graduating, I have had opportunities above and beyond what I imagined. I’m now working full time as a media composer with a focus on games. While the media music industry is challenging wherever you are on the ladder, I think that the programme has eased me into life as a working freelance composer and introduced me to contacts who have become central to my current work.

In January 2018, I had the honour of winning 'Best Music Video' for my score for the multi-award winning short film Little Thing at the RoundGlass Music Awards in New York. This was the result of a collaboration with an animator who I met through the contacts I was introduced to while at ECA. During the course of the evening, I got to see cellist Tina Guo perform the Wonder Woman main theme: a moment I will never forget! At the Soundtrack Cologne awards ceremony I was invited to perform my music for Little Thing live, which was one of the most amazing experiences of my career so far. It’s funny to think that one introduction resulted in these opportunities and experiences, all of which would not have happened had I not done this programme.

ECA gave me a lot of momentum to go straight into freelancing, as well as the confidence to make this career work. Since graduating, I have written music for games, short films, apps, theatre, documentaries, a web series and various festivals.

Jessica Kelly conducting in the Reid Concert Hall
Image courtesy of Jessica Kelly
Jessica Kelly conducting in the Reid Concert Hall
Jessica Kelly was invited to perform her music for 'Little Thing' live at Soundtrack Cologne awards ceremony
Image courtesy of Jessica Kelly
Jessica Kelly was invited to perform her music for 'Little Thing' live at Soundtrack Cologne awards ceremony

Alumni wisdom

Take the opportunity to collaborate with others within ECA and beyond, such as directors, animators and students from the theatre, film and TV societies. The connections you make at university can be very fruitful, and in the future, many of those connections will look to you first for their music needs. Studying at ECA will provide you with a wealth of opportunities and experience that you will draw on time and time again throughout your career.

If you are about to leave, then networking is everything. It is very much about who you know, but you should always try to establish genuine friendships first. Focus on how you can help someone, not how they can help you. Create and maintain friendships within your network and musical opportunities will soon follow, often where you least expect.

You should never stop practising your craft, but ensure you learn the business side of what you are doing as well. Finally, no matter how many times you fall down, or how many rejections you receive, get back up again and have another go. Be open to moving in directions you never expected. And enjoy the journey!


Are you interested in studying Composition for Screen - MSc at Edinburgh College of Art?