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Paul Taylor | Grad goes from living in a basement to winning an Emmy
By Lisa Laughlin
It’s like something out of a movie: a young struggling artist gets his big break, and ends up triumphant at a major award ceremony. But that’s the real-life story of University of Idaho alum Paul Taylor—in a matter of two and a half years, he went from living in his parents’ basement to winning an Emmy Award. His journey began after earning his Bachelors of Music in Music Composition in 2010, when he moved back in with his parents to sort out his career options.
“I worked as a cashier during the day and I spent my evening diligently preparing and organizing my portfolio, searching for career opportunities, applying for internships, scouring for leads and contacting processionals within the industry,” he said. “I had around 80 applications floating around and only a couple of decent leads.”
One of those leads was a Music Composition Internship at NFL Films, for which Taylor applied on the last day of eligibility. After two Skype interviews and an interview via phone, the Missoula, Montana native flew to New Jersey to meet with the company and present his portfolio. He landed the job and successfully started his first day as a seasonal freelance Assistant Composer in mid-September—roughly four months after graduating from college.
He has since been promoted to a staff Assistant Composer, working with other composers on various projects.
“The process is usually like an assembly line of music composition,” said Taylor. “First the composer writes the music and acts as the producer for the remainder of the process, then one arranger acts as the supervisor and an assistant to the composer and is responsible for quality control. Another arranger is responsible for arranging and preparing the music for recording and editing, and finally the last arranger is responsible for recording and mixing the music.”
Taylor was the arranger responsible for arranging and preparing the music for recording and editing, and also edited the music post recording.
“We are constantly receiving and quickly finishing new music, whether it be for a show or library music that we send out to all of the television networks, or the music we specifically produce for the NFL Network,” he said. “Also, every year we work on a project called ‘Road to the Super Bowl’ starting around Christmas. ‘Road to the Super Bowl’ is an hour long recap of the season that airs before the Super Bowl and is always a fun project to work on.”
Outside of NFL Films, Taylor plays electric bassoon, accordion and organ in a Philadelphia rock band that is currently recording an album. He also works on two independent films, transcribes and arranges music for a jazz group in New York, and assists local musicians whenever the opportunity arises.
“It’s all very busy, but unbelievably fun,” said Taylor.
And Taylor’s busy schedule and variety of experiences paid off, as he was nominated and received the Outstanding Music Composition/Direction/Lyrics Emmy Award 2012 for his work on “Ed Sabol’s Last Football Movie: Men of Mettle.”
“I was surprised to be nominated for an Emmy and I am very excited to be this far along so early on in my career,” said Taylor. “Needless to say, I was elated.”
Taylor owes much of his foundational success to the University of Idaho, the music department in particular.
“The Lionel Hampton School of Music (LHSM) solidified and enhanced both my fundamental knowledge and my advanced knowledge of aural perception and music theory,” he said. “I was constantly able to write music and find musicians to read, rehearse and perform my music.”
Taylor cites his experiences in the department as helpful preparation for where he’s at now.
“There were many times where I was held to high professional standards, like helping to conduct during concerts, establishing a new performance group, preparing and rehearsing groups, and being asked to produce music with very quick turnarounds,” he said. “Also, I am most thankful for how the University of Idaho offered me the opportunity to receive a barrage of constructive, and sometimes planned-deconstructive, criticism both from peers and faculty, which helped strengthen my musical resolve and perseverance.”
He heartily recommends that current music students get as many experiences as they can from LHSM.
“Make sure to take advantage of all the possible music opportunities the University of Idaho has to offer you, build a portfolio and start work on your resume now,” he said. “Do not rely too heavily on your talent; instead, be diligent in your practicing because your hard work will help reinforce your talents and push you to the next level. In my opinion, the person who works the hardest and devotes themselves entirely to their passion will always come out on top.”
He also suggested that students create a rigid routine and follow it, because post-graduation it becomes a personal responsibility to further develop skills.
“Do not be afraid to take extra time to develop your skills. Your friends might give you a hard time initially, but it in the end they will understand,” he said. “Also, make sure to soak up as much information from your professors as you can. All of the faculty at the University of Idaho will work with you outside of class, and those moments are invaluable.”
Even with an Emmy under his belt, Taylor plans to follow his own advice—to continue to be devoted to his passion and develop his own musical skills at NFL Films.