is a New York-based composer and songwriter for film, television, video games, and other media. Recently, she scored Call to Spy
and composed the music for Radium Girls
. The talented musician also dedicates her time to teaching film scoring as an adjunct professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Having graduated with general and departmental honors in Philosophy and History from Vassar College in 2011, Lillie began teaching at a private high school in Beverly, Massachusetts. "I loved so many different things it was just hard to choose, so I spent the majority of my twenties not choosing," the composer begins. Feeling like her world was too small, Lillie approached her future from a very analytical point of view — she drew a scatter plot, finding that the intersection of all of her interests was film scoring.
Although she played piano since childhood and had a classical background in music, McDonough started learning about orchestration and composition on her own, taking certain Berklee Online classes to prepare. "That, coupled with passion and love of learning, helped me get in[to Steinhardt]," she believes. Discussing what sets a great applicant from a good applicant, the composer emphasizes the importance of voice, which beats both experience and knowledge. "You can tell when they are trying to be like a composer they know, which is a great way to learn, but [the school] is looking for an authentic voice," she says.
At Steinhardt, the faculty focus heavily on practicality. Whether it is teaching you how to write a budget or using your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to its capacity, you will be able to apply these ideas and concepts to your life long after you've graduated. At the same time, the institution is cultivating its collaborations and growing its network. "We try to bring in a bunch of guests," Lillie mentions, describing a class that is entirely dedicated to this purpose.
Because the school is located in New York, the students also have access to Tisch School of the Arts (which is a part of NYU) and Columbia University right around the corner. This year, the students were also able to travel to Harvard University to build meaningful connections with the people there, although most of it was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Speaking of Covid-19: the pandemic has raised a lot of serious questions about how institutions are going to pursue education in the coming years. "We are currently planning to do a hybrid version of education," the composer tells me, explaining that while some classes are going to be done partially in-person, the curriculum will include a lot of online individual work. This is of course subject to change in order to maximize health and safety as the pandemic develops. "We have the opportunities to focus on what is the best experience we can give our students, and how we can absolutely maximize learning." With that comes a lot of re-designing of a big portion of classes offered. As Lillie says, while this is challenging, if anything, education should be improved from the coronavirus.