Benjamin Kambs is a PhD student in music education at Michigan State University. Prior to this appointment, he was the director of choirs at Fairfield Junior/Senior High School from 2003 – 2021. Kambs received his Master’s degree in Music Education from Western Michigan University in 2013 and a B.M. in Music Education from St. Olaf College in 2000. His advanced high school chorus was a seven-time state finalist in the Indiana State School Music Association’s concert choir competition, and his mixed show choir was named ISSMA Class B State Champions in 2016 and 2019.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
I like to have pistachios or sunflower seeds nearby. The extra shelling process keeps me from too much stress-eating!
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
My early arrangements suffered from “arranger-brain,” trying too hard to “be creative” and not thinking about performability. My years as a director really helped me understand what high school singers can do, and my later work benefits from this perspective.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
I’m actually pretty lousy with shortcuts, but I definitely know all of the Finale keystroke commands by now! Being proficient with Finale takes a lot of time and a lot of visits to online forums, but I’m too set in my ways to change now!