Sean Hoffmann serves as the Director of Choral Activities in the Manteno School District in Manteno, IL. He is also a freelance arranger, writing charts for middle and high schools in the midwest.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
My arranging space is fairly simple, which includes a comfortable chair/desk and a piano arms length away. Finale has always been my “go to” notation program and I use a program called AnyTune to speed up, slow down and change keys on audio files. I highly recommend both programs.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
Number one is figuring out the kind of ensemble I’m arranging for. Some essential questions that need answering: What is the group size/makeup? What are the strengths/weaknesses of the group? What’s the function of this number in the show? Next, I think like most of the arrangers out there, it’s all about “seeing” the arrangement. Listening to each song constantly with a notepad to scribble ideas (i.e. SA only here, solo there, key change, etc.). Then, go.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
Coffee. And more coffee.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
Don’t force it… if you’re struggling getting through it, there’s nothing wrong with stopping and starting from scratch.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
I really am pretty quick at “Speedy Entry.” MIDI sometimes drives me nuts, so I can fly with manual entry, singing the parts along to see if they fit.
6. What is a favorite arrangement of yours?
7. How can people get ahold of you?
Easiest way is to email. You can reach me at email@example.com.