Drew Firkins is a freelance composer/arranger based out of Omaha, NE, focusing primarily on commissions for middle/high school and collegiate-level a cappella groups and show choirs. He is currently the vocal music teacher at Russell Middle School, where he directs the 6-8 choirs, two show choirs, an a cappella group, and a musical, in addition to being the show band director at Millard West High School. He is a proud graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he studied Music Education, Composition, and Music Technology.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
I use Finale and Logic Pro X for my arranging softwares, and I work on a desktop Mac and an Arturia KeyLab 88 keyboard controller in my little bedroom studio.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
When I’m getting started with a new arrangement, I like to listen to it over and over in the weeks leading up to the project. I find the process goes much quicker and I can be much more creative with a chart if it’s nearly memorized. It also makes the transcription process much easier, and I have more creative bandwidth to devote to making the arrangement slap. If there are covers or any live versions, I love listening to those as well to see what kind of things other musicians have done with the songs. After I know the song well enough, I start to map out the form and interest curve of the song, and then I start to get it on paper!
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
Dr. Pepper & Cream soda is my current drink obsession. For snacks, I love Dot’s Pretzels and Flavor-Blasted Goldfish.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
Where do I start? Haha. Honestly drum notation was the hardest thing to get used to at first but I had fun figuring it all out. Or that most guitarists can’t actually read music… that was tough for my high school piano-brain to figure out. 🙂
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
Command-4 (auto music-spacing) just makes my neatfreak heart happy.
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
Probably the Millard West varsity closer from 2020… we did a mashup of “Rewrite the Stars” from Greatest Showman and “Heaven” by Avicii. I’m a BIG Avicii fan so this was definitely one of my favorite songs ever both to write and direct. https://www.firkinsarrangements.com/pre-arranged-catalog/p/rewritethestars-heaven
7. How can people get ahold of you?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check my website firkinsarrangements.com. You can also message me on facebook messenger!