Jan Ward is a music arranger, adjudicator, accompanist and composer currently residing in Independence, Missouri. During her thirty-plus years as a teacher she has served several schools in Iowa and Missouri as a science instructor, accompanist, and choir director. As an accomplished music arranger and composer, she has winning arrangements featured in national show choir competitions and at music conventions across the country. She retired from teaching in 2011, but has continued to be active as an arranger, accompanist, adjudicator, composer and performer.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
My basic setup includes my computer (an old ASUS All-In-One), my printer/scanner (HP Envy 4500) and my keyboard (Williams 88 key). They are all old, but they work like champs and get the job done! My setup is in my bedroom right now since our house very small. I also have a new Microsoft Surface Pro 8 which is going to store all my files and sheet music so I can use it to play from instead of the standard binder. It was used for arranging last week when I was away from the house for a few days.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
Usually when I’m asked to arrange, the client wants a specific song. I start by finding out why they want the song and how it fits into their show. Sometimes they like the feel or the beat of the song for dancing, sometimes the lyrics but not necessarily the style of the original piece. Other times, it’s the accompaniment, big brass or simple guitar that is the appeal of the song for them. That’s always where I start, along with the original recording, and then I make sure to include what they like about the song.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
My snacks are varied and occur frequently since I hate to sit for too long at a time. Usually apples, oranges, a little chocolate, or nuts can be found on my desk. Drink is usually tea of some sort, either mint or chai.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
I wish I had known what a rewarding and amazing way to meet wonderful people it is. Arranging has allowed me to help small schools and students for many years, and forged some of my closest friendships, both students and directors alike. Technically, I have always just written down on paper what I heard on the recording, but I also wish I had realized how much it is about the singers and getting across the point of the song.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
In Finale, getting out of the Chord Symbol mode was always a few clicks until I read a handy tip that said to hit ESC twice. So simple, and therefore my favorite.
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
My very favorite arrangement is Ready To Fly by Richard Marx. I don’t have any links for it yet, but they are coming!
7. How can people get ahold of you?
Right now, people can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to be adding arrangements to a web based service this coming year so they will also be available to purchase.