Mr. Alfera is director of the award winning show choir ‘Swingers Unlimited’ from Marysville, OH. Mr. Alfera received his Bachelors of Music Education from The Ohio State University, where he was involved in many ensembles, operas and musical reviews. Jeremy is an active music arranger, choreographer, show designer, and guest clinician for show choirs across the country.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
I assume I’m very bare bones by comparison. My set-up is: a midi keyboard hooked up to my laptop, headphones in! I work at a small table in my kitchen, where the best sunlight is in the house. Piano is around the corner in the dining room.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
This really depends on the arranging request. Some folks want something really specific (a cut track with instructions, or time-stamps with written descriptions) which I am always happy to do. On the other hand, when given creative freedom, I think about the overall show, theme/story (or lack thereof), and what this moment is trying to say. I LOVE the show-design process, so if a director/choreographer is willing, I love throwing out song suggestions to supplement their ideas (or I am happy to be a part of the show-design process from the ground up!). I ALWAYS have my Spotify and Google search open, ready to dive down the rabbit-hole looking for new and interesting songs. I keep extensive idea lists on all my devices and playlists of Spotify.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
COFFEE!. As I mentioned, I work in the kitchen. I start right after breakfast, with a steady flow of coffee as the morning goes on.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
I started arranging in college for fun, probably on Finale version 0.0 lol! Funny story, being primarily self-taught (and far from a technical genius), I arranged point and click style for almost a decade!! I will never forget the day a colleague showed me how midi input works. It’s shockingly comical how much faster the process is with keyboard input.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
Don’t be afraid of a copy/paste/edit situation! EDIT being the key word. A client is paying for this, so you want it to be original/interesting/custom. At MOST a chorus may repeat verbatim, but I really try to customize each section/moment in some way. BUT, if you know a new section (verse 2, dance break etc…) is going to have the same chord progression for example, it’s ok to copy/paste, then start changing it up. Use the similar melody of verse 1 and start altering it/revoicing it for verse 2, beef up things for a dance break (adding octaves, intensifying rhythmic patterns, alter chord progression if called for, etc…).
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
I imagine this is a tough question for lots of arrangers! I LOVE doing ballads, as I come from a choral/piano background, and I LOVE mashing up songs in general.
7. How can people get ahold of you?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram @jeremyalfera