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From: Kay Bromert

Hi everyone,
I'll bet you all just can't wait another minute to hear about exciting things like voice leading, chord progression, and the other wonderful curriculum arrangers study! :-) Well, encouraged by email responses from a few folks who said they enjoyed yesterday's report, I'll give you some info from today, which was the first full day of classes. The dorms here are air conditioned, and our particular one doesn't have individual controls in the room. It was so cold in our room last night that Muriel and I couldn't sleep. We got very creative to add extra covers to our beds, so she wants to know if any of you could please email us some blankets! We did complain today and the temp was turned up a bit, but due to a mixup on our part, we won't be able to pick up extra blankets until tomorrow morning. So blankets would be greatly appreciated asap!! The dining hall was open for breakfast from 6:30 - 8:30, so Muriel and I got up early (under protest - both of us would rather have slept awhile!) and went to breakfast a little after 7.

That worked out just right to get us to the opening session at 8:15, where Rumors opened and entertained us with a song I'd never heard before, "Baby You Can Drive My Car", Cute number, definitely not for the Kibbers, but they were all dressed alike this time, so apparently no one was late today. Betty Clipman taught us a new vocal warmup from a little book called "Sing Legato" that's available from International for $2.95. It's got some excellent new warmup exercises in it, so I'm sure the supply at the sales office that International brought with them will be depleted very soon. And we sang "Just One of Those Things" again. It's a fun arrangement.

My first class this morning was How to Do a PVI (Personal Vocal Instruction), taught by Betty Clipman. She gave us some excellent information about procedures we might follow, what to look for, how to put the student at ease, and showed a video clip that she has made (also available through Internatioal) with a student "guinea pig". Then a brave soul volunteered to come up and let Betty do a brief PVI on her. It takes guts to get up in front of a class like that. Another lady was even braver - she volunteered to do a PVI on someone while we all watched and Betty critiqued her. It was a very interesting class and worthwhile because more and more choruses are moving toward PVI's as a way of individual improvement and growth that in turn is a huge benefit to the chorus.

Next was a class called Develop and Train a Musical Staff, taught by Sally Wallace. It was an elective for me, and apparently I had stumbled into the Director's Track, because I was the only non-director in the room! I am a certified director in the DCP, I have been a front-line director, and I'm currently the coordinator for our YWIH chorus, so I guess that's why they let me in. ;-) Our chorus has just gone through goal setting, and I learned about several different organizational plans that would be useful for us to implement. Obviously no director can do everything that needs to be done to make the chorus be as successful as it can be, so the idea is to tap into the resources of the people in your chorus, so that people feel needed/appreciated/involved and share ownership with what happens musically in the group. Very beneficial class, I felt, and I'm going to bend my director's ear with the info.

Then it was time for lunch. We have learned the secret to the dining hall - as soon as your class gets out, run fast to the dining hall and get in line before they open the doors. You will then be one of the first ones in, you can eat and leave your table for someone in the "second shift", and there's time in our 2 hr lunch break to relax a bit before the next class. In my case it left me time to go to the sales room, where I stood in line for 40 minutes to pay for a new pitchpipe (my very old one is dying because it's full of popcorn, among other things!), the Sing Legato book, and other goodies. Even after that much time in line, however, I ended up putting my things in a little pile in the back corner so I could get them later, because I could see I wouldn't get to my next class on time if I stayed in the line. The only positive note in this was a nice half-hour chat with Lynn Carlson from my chorus, who is here in the Regional Leaders track. She's also the lead in Premiere, our Region 20 champs, who will be competing in Atlanta.

Afternoon classes took me into the Arrangers track with two classes in Voice Leading. Only approved and certified arrangers were allowed into these classes, because they are very specific to our craft. We spent some time in discussing how we first learn the rules, then we learn how and when it's OK to break the rules. Both classes were taught by Marge Bailey. The second one involved moving to a different building, which didn't seem to make much sense, since it was all the same people and the same instructor. But we're obedient if nothing else, so off we went in between to find the next building.

In the second class, we sang through snatches of several arrangements and looked at the voice leading, whether it worked or not, and tried to guess whose arrangement it was. That was fun, because the top arrangers tend to leave their "footprints" on arrangements they do. One dead giveaway was part of a David Wright arrangement of a jazz medley. David has very LARGE footprints in his arrangements! We found that we could almost instantly identify ones that were done by men because they often are more willing to take risks. One point of contention seems to be our keyboards. We arrangers always have instructions to bring keyboards and earphones with us to these seminars, but often we carry them along to our classes and seldom if ever use them. I carried mine to both afternoon sessions but never took it out of the bag.

Then it was time to dash to the dining room again, this time with Muriel and Jean Shook, a certified arranger from my region. Jean went to the front of the dining room building and stood in line while Muriel and I dropped her and our unneeded keyboards and other things off in our room (we are close to the dining room, but Jean is not). We got into the line before the doors opened and were finished eating by 5:45. Then we had free time until 7, so we relaxed a bit and then went up to the sales room so I could rescue my unpaid-for items and pay for them. I only stood in line behind one person, quite a switch from the loooonnnnnggggg lines after lunch.

Then we found the room for our evening session, which was called Arrangers Network Group. This was facilitated by Carolyn Schmidt and Barbara McNeill, both CMA's, but it was a discussion group and the place for us to ask all the burning questions we are sometimes afraid to ask or, more likely, don't have time to ask in the classes. Topics included reasons for switching to sound as the tie-breaking category instead of music, the procedure to apply for advancement in IMAP (International Music Arrangers Program), various methods we use to clear copyrights on our arrangements, and other relevant topics. I finally was able to put a face and a name to Linda Edmunson from Oklahoma, who was my "mentee" two years ago when she was a trainee arranger. She applied to advance and was moved up to the approved category, which was no surprise to me because she was doing excellent work already when I was reviewing it back then.

And now I'm back in our room, ready to see if I can stay warm enough to sleep tonight. (I'm still waiting but no blankets have come popping out of my email box, unfortunately!) Muriel has been for a swim, but I couldn't join her because my swim suit is resting comfortably in my dresser back in Des Moines. Oh well - to steal a line from Jean Shook's famous sister Margaret (for those who remember the Galatones, Queens of Harmony in 1968, I believe - may be off a year or two - Jean was the lead and Margaret was the wise-cracking tenor who kept audiences in stitches), it's just as well I don't have my swim suit because I look like a sack full of doorknobs in it, and besides, it has a hole in the knee! So with that chuckle, I'll wrap up today's report and get to bed so I'm bright eyed and ready for How Arrangements and the Music Category Relate, first class of the day tomorrow. I'm sure you can hardly wait for THAT report!

In harmony,
Kay Bromert, Approved Music Arranger
Baritone, Harmony Central Chorus (formerly Des Moines SAI) and Special Arrangement Quartet

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