Jeff Vyhlidal is in his fourteenth year of teaching, and his third year at Grand Island Northwest High School. Jeff has a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Hastings College and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He has served as a clinician and adjudicator for many choir and show choir events in Nebraska, Iowa, and Colorado. Jeff was named educator of the year for Douglas County, Colorado schools in 2009, the NCDA Outstanding Young Choral Director in 2017, and teacher of the year in Grand Island Public Schools in 2018. He is an active member of NCDA, NAfME, NMEA, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
I’m a teacher, husband, and dad so I often work at night when the family has gone to bed. I have an office, but my wife tends to use that so it’s generally full of her stuff. My physical arranging space is wherever I can find space. I have written many arrangements on my couch after everyone has gone to bed, I’ve also written in the waiting room at my kids’ dance classes as they dance. I’ve written some arrangements in my car in-between my kids’ activities. I use finale and a laptop, so I write wherever I have the time.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
Brainstorming/Inspiration: I try to become fairly familiar with the piece and begin writing the main components. Such as a particular hook or chorus. Then I’ll go back and figure out how the song is used, what components I want to make sure are in it, and then start creating a basic map-usually only one part with the accompaniment. From there I begin filling in the other parts as I go. Some times I’ll start at the beginning and move through the piece to the end-other times I’ll jump around in the arrangement. It all depends on how I’m inspired and how the ideas come to me.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
Go to snack/drink: I’m usually writing late at night, so I’ll drink coffee or Mountain Dew. Sometimes I’ll have some sort of snack, but I usually just drink caffeine and water.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
I wish I knew that I could sometimes just let the song breathe. When I first started writing I would definitely over-write. Whether it was an acappella pop piece or show choir chart, I’d tend to have a ton of instrumentation and harmonies to have thick arrangements. I’ve found that I don’t have to overwrite so much and I find I like the results much more!
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
Favorite shortcut trick: I love the “Piano Reduction” tool- especially when I’m writing an acappella pop arrangement. It really helps the accompanist and I used to have to do it all individually.
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
7. How can people get ahold of you?
I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much!