Garrett Breeze

Show Choir Arrangers You Should Know (Ben Kambs)

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.)
My workspace is a well-lit office with a computer desk and chair, the digital piano positioned just to my right so I can easily pivot back and forth between on-screen and at the keyboard.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
A big part of my brainstorming process comes from careful dialogue with my clients. I want to be sure that I am giving them exactly what they want, so I ask a lot of questions! Once I have an idea of what they are looking for, I sketch out a formal “road map,” and start piecing thematic material together. I sing and play throughout the process so that I can ensure individual lines make musical sense. I also check in with my clients a lot during the process so I can quickly adjust if needed.
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!

6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
7. How can people get ahold of you?
The best way to contact me is via email, ben.kambs@gmail.com
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Garrett Breeze

COMPOSER, ARRANGER

Garrett Breeze is a Nashville-based composer and arranger whose credits include film and television, Broadway stars, Grammy-winning classical artists, and many of the top school music programs in the U.S.

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