We Love Our Grads: Lilly McCarty ’21, Music

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“I wholeheartedly wish for the incoming underclassmen that you too are able to experience the magic that is LMU, and when that day comes, do not allow fear to hold you back from trying something new. Embrace vulnerability in your work, play and relationships. Go Lions!”

With graduation upon us, we spoke to some of CFA’s talented #LMU21 graduates as they gear up to leave LMU and take on the world. In our We Love Our Grads series, we asked a graduating student from each of our departments to reflect on their time here, as well as share their plans for the future.

Lilly McCarty ’21
Major: Music, Minors: French and Philosophy
Career Goals: Radio and music production

How did you decide to become a music major?

I came to LMU as an undeclared liberal arts major. Growing up, I took piano lessons for 10 years but ultimately stopped playing in high school when I abandoned music-making to focus on soccer. During my first semester at LMU, I took a one credit piano lesson to help fill up my schedule—lightheartedly. Halfway through the semester, my piano instructor applauded my musicality and asked me what my major was, to which I responded I didn’t have one. The next day, I met with the chair of the Music Department and declared to be a music major. Within a day, I had thrown myself into the deep end of the music department, and I have never looked back!

Tell us a little about your time at LMU!

I am a music major with a concentration in theory and composition. My main instrument is piano, but I also sing in both the Concert choir and Consort Singers. With the LMU Choirs, I have had amazing opportunities to sing professionally including at the LMU Christmas tree lighting, in the LMU president’s office, for a Grammy Recoding Academy ad campaign, and at the Democratic presidential debate on LMU’s campus. I have double minors in french and philosophy, which has added richness to my study of music.

My passion outside the classroom has been my involvement at KXLU, LMU’s 64-year-old independent radio station that broadcasts from campus. KXLU has been my home for the last four years. I started as a freshman as a KLMU Online DJ and worked my way up to by General Manager of the entire station this year. I just finished spearheading a completely new digital format fundraiser for KXLU, which raised $100,000 for our station. This past year, in collaboration with Dr. David Carter of the music department, we created a new show on KXLU entitled “Music from the Bluff,” where we showcase performances from LMU faculty, staff, alumni, and students. I am the DJ of this program, and the experience has been incredibly meaningful to me because I found a way to join the two communities who have fostered my growth and celebrate them simultaneously.

In addition to my involvement at KXLU, for the last three years I have also been an orientation leader for the incoming freshman. I was involved in the program as it transitioned from the June format to the August format, and (this past year) to an online format. I also worked into the fall semesters with orientation to help co-facilitate orientation classes and act as a peer mentor. I really love working with orientation because I get to share in the excitement of coming to campus every year. I get to re-experience my first days on campus, which ignites in me a deeper passion for LMU and its community. In this role I have also been able to meet so many administrators and departments across campus which reinforces my love for LMU.

What are your post-graduation plans and how did you come to that decision?

My post graduation plans are not solidified yet, but I plan to continue working with music. I could see myself in radio, music production and engineering, composing for TV/Film, music supervision or even production/development for TV/Film. I have been networking extensively (virtually) this past year to figure out what the best next step is for me, and I am excited to see where I end up.

Did you have a particular experience that led you to this path?

I took a music supervision class my junior year which ignited me a passion to learn more about sync licensing, but also the music business at large. My professor and I have stayed connected, which has allowed me to begin connecting professionally within that industry. Working at KXLU also allowed me a taste of what professional life would be like in a studio environment.

Tell us a little about your career goals and aspirations.

While I am not sure where my career will take me, I do know that I am passionate about supporting music and the arts within communities. Music is not only a reflection of the world but a tool to heal those within it, and I would love to support that ideal through my work every day. I aspire to work in a creative space where music and the arts are valued and celebrated and where I can continue to learn and grow my own musicality.

How do you feel your experience at LMU prepared you for this next step?

The LMU music department re-ignited my passion for music. My experiences both through KXLU and as a member of the Music Department reinforced my desire to make music a career. These experiences have allowed me the vocabulary, emotional intelligence and maturity to regard, speak of, and feel music highly. This deep-rooted connection is the greatest gift received from LMU and one that has prepared me to take on the world of music head-on.

What will you miss most/what is your favorite thing about LMU?

The wonderful community I have built at LMU will be the hardest thing to let go of when I graduate. Both the Music Department and KXLU are very tight knit communities that have given me endless support over the last four years (especially in this past year of hardship) and have helped me grow in confidence to the person I am today. Collaborating with my mentors, teachers, and peers has been the most fulfilling experience for me, and I will sorely miss being so ingrained in their communities.

What advice do you have for underclassmen?

After a year and a half being away from campus, every day I think about how much I took for granted as an underclassman: being able to make music in the same room as my peers, DJ-ing in the KXLU booth, walking along the bluff at sunset, walking through the music building and hearing the low murmur of music in the practice rooms. I wholeheartedly wish for the incoming underclassmen that you too are able to experience the magic that is LMU, and when that day comes, do not allow fear to hold you back from trying something new. Embrace vulnerability in your work, play and relationships. Go Lions!