USC Thornton Classical Guitar and Music Industry program student and student ambassador Francesca Boerio highlights her activities and experiences from her own perspective.
As a current senior in the USC Thornton School of Music, looking back at my time, I am endlessly grateful for the breadth of opportunities, support and community here. I will be graduating this May with a double major in classical guitar and cognitive science with a minor in music industry. While my course load has kept me busy, I strongly feel that I would not have been able to experience the same academic opportunities elsewhere. I was only able to pursue these academic interests with the incredible support of my advisor and teachers within Thornton. Outside of the classroom, I am involved in the Thornton Community Engagement Program (TCEP), which I have been a part of since my freshman year. Additionally, I am in other clubs such as Women and Youth Supporting Each other (WYSE), Troy Camp, Gamma Phi Beta and Thornton Ambassadors.
Teaching the next generation
The TCEP has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a Thornton student. Through TCEP, I have been able to give back and teach music classes at various schools surrounding the USC campus. Courses I have taught vary from Jazz in the Classroom to Music all Around, the latter of which incorporates world music into the curriculum. With students of grade levels ranging from kindergarten to middle school, I have learned a lot about the community surrounding USC and learned about myself as a musician and an educator. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of my sophomore year, I was in the middle of co-teaching a kindergarten class and was saddened that I would not be able to teach in person any longer. I wanted to stay as involved as possible with TCEP during the pandemic because I wanted to continue to help musically engage these students, especially during such a difficult time. At the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, I recorded musical bedtime stories for some partner schools. I would read a short story, pause to explain any musical terms and play guitar in the videos.
One of the most challenging yet exciting classes I taught and wrote class-specific curriculum for was Arts Integration. The class kicked off while we were still in the virtual learning environment. The curriculum combines music learning standards with either English language or math standards to provide students with an interdisciplinary class experience. Adapting to online teaching and managing a virtual classroom was difficult, especially with a brand new class. I was teaching second- and third-graders with activities like having students make their own homemade musical instruments or identifying genres and discussing their history. When in-person teaching resumed, I taught this curriculum to middle schoolers, focusing on meter and rhythm with relation to fractions. TCEP is a program I highly recommend for anyone interested in working with kids or pursuing music education. It has taught me how to effectively communicate and present ideas with a specific audience, a skill that I have found very useful even outside of music education. Giving back the knowledge and education that I have been grateful to experience has been really rewarding, from seeing students get excited as they begin to understand a musical concept or share a comment relating music to their own life.
Building strong communities
Outside of TCEP, I am also involved in other clubs on campus that work with kids. I am currently on the executive board of Women and Youth Supporting Each other (WYSE), a feminist organization that aims to teach middle school girls about healthy relationships and sex education while building a strong community of women on campus at USC. I am responsible for managing the communication and relationship with one of our partner schools, Vista Charter, and working to maintain student engagement in the program, especially post-COVID-19. I also help lead sessions with middle school students each week and coordinate the curriculum schedule with other mentors to support them in leading sessions. Building relationships with these students is extraordinary; there is so much for us as mentors to learn from them and vice versa.
I continue to build these relationships with students through another club called Troy Camp. Troy Camp works to build long-term mentorship with students, offering programming for elementary, middle and high school, as well as a summer camp each year. I am the elementary school programming head for one of the sections and have held this position since my sophomore year. Helping to lead other counselors (USC student-mentors) and facilitating programming each week to engage our students as much as possible has been delightful virtually and in person. Getting involved in these organizations on campus has allowed me to support the community outside of USC, but they have also helped me build my own community, making campus life feel much less daunting and isolating.
Preparing to take my next steps
Given that I am graduating this May, I have worked to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to prepare me for the next steps in my career. Pursuing internships and networking have become increasingly big priorities as I approach graduation; these experiences have helped me learn more about my passion for the music business. Starting to work internships virtually as a sophomore, I have since worked for Apple Music, Ultra Records, Angry Mob Music Publishing and Groundup Management. These internships have allowed me to experience and learn about different aspects of the music business from streaming to publishing to A&R. I found most of these internships through the ConnectSC portal, which I would frequently check at the beginning of each semester.
My favorite experience from these enriching internships was working for Apple Music last summer. I was working on the business partnerships team, specifically helping with the original content for the streaming platform. I worked on a cross-functional team that touched on design, publishing, editorial and external label partners. Some campaigns I worked across included Up Next and First Listen. This experience helped me better understand the inner workings of a streaming company and learn more about the impactful potential of short-form video content for a streaming service.
After graduation, I hope to pursue a career within music streaming, A&R or music publishing, with hopes to continue to see how technology can impact how listeners experience music.
To anyone nervous about taking on something new on campus: go to that club meeting you keep getting emails for, reach out to that guest professor who led a fascinating discussion and take advantage of your time as a Thornton student. There are so many resources for support and so many opportunities to take advantage of. All you have to do is ask.
The USC Thornton Student Ambassadors are currently enrolled undergraduate students at the USC Thornton School of Music and are committed to enhancing the experience for all students, present and future.
Ambassadors are a great point of contact for prospective and admitted students to learn more about the USC Thornton undergraduate experience! To connect with a current ambassador, email Brittany Jimenez at firstname.lastname@example.org.