Matthew Haltom was born in south AR, studied music at Ouachita Baptist University, and then completed a masters in Choral Conducting at the University of Missouri. He has taught in several states, but started his show choir career with Warrensburg High School in Warrensburg, MO. He has been officially arranging competitions numbers for 10 years and love the creativity that it involves. Currently, he is the choral director at Buchanan High School in Clovis, CA and is looking forward to getting his feet wet in SoCal scene.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
I’m pretty basic in this regard. I am still rocking Finale v. 2003 with a small midi keyboard plugged in. I usually find myself sprawled out on the couch with sheet music all around me. My neighbors enjoy the entertainment.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
When starting a new arrangement, I first ask myself what is this song trying to say. I want to make sure that the tone of the piece fits its intended purpose. I then settle in for a road trip where I listen to the selection on repeat, pausing throughout to open a new voice memo on my phone and sing phrases and motifs so I can transcribe them later. Eventually they all get woven together.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
I’m a Dr. Pepper man! Beverage in one hand and Reese’s Pieces in the other.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
Although I knew this before arranging, I wish I had spent more time studying the ranges for the band parts. I find myself referring back to college theory handouts often to ensure that they are playable and can enhance the arrangement.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
Learn to use the number and key pad to enter duration and notes….it will save you so much time!
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
One of my favorites was written for the Neosho Choraleers in their 2020 show. I call it the “Fire Medley” and it contains “A Bar in Amsterdam” by Katzenjammer, “Fire” and “Hell Fire” by Barns Courtney. (9:20)
7. How can people get ahold of you?