Laura Karpman is one of only a handful of A-list female composers with an active career in film and television, winning four Emmys and receiving an additional seven nominations, an Annie Award nomination, and a GANG award and nomination for her video game music. She was named one of the most important women in Hollywood by Variety Magazine, and is a professor at UCLA in the School of Theater, Film, and Television. Laura has scored dozens of game titles, including the large orchestral scores for Sony’s Everquest 2 and many of its updates. An active concert composer, her epic multimedia work Ask Your Mama was commissioned by Carnegie Hall.
I often record live for demos to make them sound as realistic as possible, because nothing is ever wasted. You'll use it somewhere, sometime, someplace. Recording audio locks things in a little bit. If I have to make a change, I either abandon it or I'll use it somewhere else. If I make less money, that's life. I have a musical morality and I won't avoid live performances.
I have never submitted a score in my life that doesn't have something live recorded on it. If there's air running through a mic it sounds better. Period. When I write I'm not fantasizing that I have a 100 piece orchestra and writing a cheap MIDI score, because no matter how good it gets you can always tell. I ask myself what's right for the project and how I can make it sound good. Always.
The first time I did a large string group in my living room it wasn't because I couldn't afford a studio, it was that I literally didn't have the time to prepare and move my sessions from my studio to another one. I decided do to it in my living room because it would still sound better than it would have without live players. Much to my surprise it sounded great, ergo a new discovery that my living room is a fabulous string room. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Why do formal and informal education have to be in opposition? Get as much education as you can. I have a doctorate from Juilliard, and that education I use every second of every day. I have also taught at several universities. As educators we want to think the tuition is fair. I have been inside of that system, and I know that they really care about that deeply. The fees are not charged lightly. They care about what the value is, what the students are getting, what the curriculum is, and justifying that huge expense. Do graduates keep learning from working? Of course. Does that go 100 times beyond what I or anybody else could have taught them? Absolutely. That's just the way it is.