Garrett Clement is a new arranger who has worked with multiple show choirs in south Mississippi. He is the choral director of Pass Christian School District on the Mississippi Coast and was previously the assistant choir director at Oak Grove Middle School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Garrett started arranging music as hobby and it slowly developed into a freelance job. Despite only working with small, local show choirs, he has been eager to branch out and arrange for other schools within and beyond Mississippi.
1.Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
The setup is fairly simple; right beside my desk with my MacBook Pro dock is my keyboard, which has a large computer screen behind it so I can read and play my drafts. I have speakers right above the monitor on a set of shelves. I started arranging with MuseScore back in high school and I sort of stuck to it, despite learning Finale in college. I also use Sennheiser headphones to ensure I can hear the best quality possible. I’m still exploring software such as Logic Pro since my hobby has developed into a fun second job.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
I always ask if the client if they have any specific requests, of course. Sometimes I’m just told to get it as close to the track cuts as possible, other times I’m told to do whatever I think is best. I’ve even been asked to arrange music that the students have already learned choreography to! Regardless, I listen to the music… a lot. If nothing stands out, I listen to remixes. Typically for dance breaks I try to find the best part of the song to create a variation of or I parody another piece of music. Sometimes if a song doesn’t feel appropriate for show choir, I speed up or slow down the tempo to get a better feel of the song.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
Usually coffee or tea, sometimes I grab some popcorn.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
Don’t let your strengths become your weaknesses. For example, just because you’re a skilled pianist doesn’t mean the director or accompanist will be; “You’re arranging a pop song, not classical music,” my professor would tell me. Arrangements don’t have to be excessively complex to be great.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
A simple copy-paste helps me out a lot, but I also take advantage of keyboard shortcuts. I know most music software have a lot of tricks, I just have a difficult time recalling how to set them up. Also, I have a portable midi keyboard I use at home and while traveling that is really handy for quick arranging.
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
Some of my favorite arrangements are my “Earth, Wind, and Fire Medley,” “Larger Than Life,” “Clocks/No Time,” a couple of 60’s medleys, and “Turn It Up/Let’s Get Loud.” I am working on processing and uploading all of my arrangements to a YouTube channel, but a link to my “Earth, Wind, and Fire Medley” is below.
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.