American singer-songwriter David McMillin, ’06, visits campus


For David McMillin ’06, the jump from writing prose to writing songs was an easy one.
“I think there are so many connections between writing prose and writing songs,” McMillin said.
McMillin majored in English writing while at DePauw, but took what classes he could in the School of Music. He fused what he learned with Professor Graham’s non-fiction creative writing course to his own song writing and has been pumping out songs since. Several of his songs, especially those used early on in his solo career, were written while he was at DePauw. Now, he is in a rising band named The Hopewells.
“The band is sort of a mix between americana and indie rock,” McMillin said.
McMillin noted that the band gets a lot of their influence from newer artists like Modest Mouse, but also from classics such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Next week, McMillin will be coming to DePauw to teach a song writing workshop and to perform as part of the Performing Art Series. The workshop will be on Tuesday April 9 at 4 p.m. in Kerr Theater, in addition to sitting in a couple classes. Although no preparation is necessary, pre-registration is requested. Those interested can email Dye to register. McMillin will also be performing Wednesday April 10 at 7 p.m. in the Theta Garden or, in the case of inclement weather, Thompson Recital Hall.
“I don’t think there was a song writing course when I was at DePauw,” McMillin said. “I think it’s a great addition to the curriculum.”
McMillin wants to connect with students that are interested in learning about song writing.
“I just want to share what I have been doing since I graduated from college, and how I continued making a career in music,” McMillin said.
Professor Ron Dye, coordinator of the Performing Art Series, is responsible for McMillin’s upcoming visit to campus. Dye, as part of his job, is in charge of booking various music and other art programs.
“Besides myself, there are a couple of other people, here on the faculty, that teach a bit of song writing when we can,” Dye said. “It’s not even a formal part of the creative writing program.”
Dye says that composition isn’t taught as much as he would like and that it is more widely part of graduate programs.
“This semester, we only have one composition class, which is general composition,” Matt Skiba, a freshman in the School of Music, said. “We’re working on expanding the program. The reason we don’t do it here is because we stress more education of performance.”
He noted that there is direct benefit of having an artist like McMillin come to campus, but wishes that the visits of these artists were better publicized.
Despite the lack of a composition degree, Dye, McMillin and Skiba agree that the creative writing program is a strong start that allows interested students to apply similar skills to song writing.
“Songwriting is similar to poetry writing,” Dye said. “It’s probably the thing that it is closest to, but it is different. A lot of people argue that they’re radically different. I don’t think poetry and song writing are that different.”
Dye believes that even students within the College of Liberal Arts can enjoy the performance because of the type of music that is going to be played.
“For a lot of people [seeing it as an art form] is a revelation,” Dye said.
Dye had McMillin for a playwriting class, where they would schedule conference times during Dye’s office hours to play music together for fun.
Dye said his only regret was they didn’t do it enough.