Garrett Breeze

Show Choir Arrangers You Should Know (Ly Wilder)

As a contemporary vocal artist and educator, Ly Wilder exhibits an infectious energy and knowledge of style and technique that engages students and audiences alike in jazz and popular music. A prolific arranger, Wilder’s works have been performed by university and high school groups world-wide. Ly has taught on the staff of Show Choir Camps of America and serves as the Vocal Director of Bloomington Expressive Arts Training (BEAT). Among her varied musical adventures, Wilder has taught on faculty at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (2013-2017) and on the staff of Purdue Musical Organizations at Purdue University (1997-2003). She holds a BM in Studio Music and Jazz from the University of Miami and a MM in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University.

1. Please describe your basic setup.  (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
My Studio has a big picture window with great light on the second floor of our home.  I am a Sibelius gal and I use a numerical keypad with a little baby Akai LPK25 keyboard on an iMac when I’m home or a MacBook Pro if I’m traveling. I’ve got a set of Tannoy Studio monitors connected to a Focusrite audio interface and a Juno DS-88 keyboard so I can flesh out ideas as well. I’m surrounded by all my instruments, our kittens, and Brennan so I have lots of inspiration in that space!
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
I like to listen to as many versions of a song as I can, and to understand the story behind the creation of the song/lyric and how it might function in a larger work, like a musical or album.  And I always want to honor the connection that draws the director who commissions a piece to that particular song so we bring that viewpoint to life.  Then I start singing the melody until new melodies emerge that I can weave into the tapestry of that chart.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
Dunkin’ Donuts Hazlenut coffee with a splash of Vanilla Oatmilk creamer and a big ol’ Yeti of water! Hydrate to stay great, as my friend April would say;). I try not to eat in my Studio.  If I’m hungry, it’s probably time for a change of scenery and to give my ears a break so i can come back with a fresh perspective on what I’ve been working on.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
That some projects are just not for me! If I don’t feel drawn to a particular song, I want the director to find someone who can really bring their vision to life and I have a better sense of which projects are a good match now than I did when I started this journey.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
I love a good Copy & Paste situation for repetitive rhythm section patterns.  And I love the Mixer function on Sibelius so I can highlight certain elements I’m trying to focus on in the orchestration. 
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
I’ve had the honor of writing for wonderful programs so it’s hard for me to pinpoint one favorite. I would say my happy place is arranging ballads.  I love to hear a story unfold and think what it will feel like for each singer in the ensemble to have that moment of expression and connection if I can really write in a way that makes it possible for them to lose themselves in the lyric and share their heart rather than having to think of their part all the time.  When I hear that an arrangement has been a vehicle for that kind of experience for a group, that’s when a chart becomes a favorite!
7. How can people get ahold of you?
Email is a great way to reach me –

Related articles

Garrett Breeze


Garrett Breeze is a composer, arranger, and orchestrator whose credits include film, television, video games, Broadway stars, major classical artists, and many of the top school music programs in the U.S.