Writing this post is the very last thing for me to complete before my studio project is officially completed. I am incredibly excited to share this, but at the same time I am emotional; I have worked extremely hard on this Portfolio of A Cappella Arrangements and I know I will feel slightly lost before beginning my next project. This is a time for me to reflect, but most of all celebrate the massive achievement of managing and successfully overseeing the completion of my project!
Progress to Date
- Finished the Portfolio Section on Website
- The Way You Look Tonight
- Finished mixing
- Finished ‘Creating The Way You Look Tonight’
- Finished the Portfolio section on Website
- I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
- Finished ‘Creating I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues’
- Finished the Portfolio section on Website
- The Skyeboat Song
- Finished ‘Creating The Skyeboat Song’
- Finished the Portfolio section on Website
- The Website
- Finished structuring, organising and tidying
I have been incredibly humbled by the experience of managing this project; It feels so much larger than myself because it involved the contribution of so many people. I used to be someone who would never ask for help, particularly in regards to my music, because I felt that I was only good enough if I could do something on my own. This experience has taught me that it is NECESSARY to ask for help, and that projects cannot be completed without an extensive team and support network behind you. I know that I could not have completed this project without the team of people who helped me. But importantly, I also know that my project wouldn’t have been successful without me orchestrating it, organising it, and directing it. I am good enough to bring it all together, and this project is good enough because of me and the people who contributed to it.
As a result of this, I have also learned to take feedback and constructive criticism extremely well. It became vital to me that I not view feedback as a personal attack on my work, but instead view it as wisdom being passed on to me by people who are speaking from personal experience and a better-informed standpoint. Through this I learnt that everyone who is willing to help me is on my side; not a single person is wanting to see me fail. Changing my mentality in this way has made me a better artist; I can see massive leaps and improvements from my original three arrangements to my last arrangement ‘Polaroid’, both in arranging quality and recording quality. I have more techniques up my sleeve and I have worked with a variety of voice types and ranges, giving me a decent amount of experience in the area of arranging. In regards to recording, particularly the arrangements I recorded during the first semester, I know I definitely could have been more meticulous and pickier with the quality of some of the takes. For instance, there are times I was standing away from the microphone at inconsistent distances between takes, and sometimes the supporting vocalists weren’t singing at the right dynamic for the particular section of the song making it slightly more difficult to mix. I also definitely need to be more aware of headphone bleed during the recording process, as this caused me a significant amount of difficulty throughout the mixing process too. I know in myself that it is recording that I require the most improvement in since I have the least amount of experience in it, however based on the amount I have improved throughout the duration of this project, I am pleased with myself overall.
First Time Project Manager
For me, a successful project is one that is completed on time and to a standard that meets your own expectations and the standard of your peers in the field, and to meet these expectations and deadlines, I think the most aspect of being a project manager is to constantly check-in with yourself, your progress, your goals and update your project plan accordingly. This meant that I would give myself longer deadlines to complete tasks if I didn’t give myself a realistic time frame to do so such as recording all the parts for ‘The Skyeboat Song’ and ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ before semester two, and I would change which tasks were happening on different dates based on unexpected events or circumstances effecting my plan such as Dannie becoming sick. However, I think my biggest success as a project manager was that I would over prepare; with tasks that I wasn’t sure of how long it would take me to complete I would give myself more time to complete them. For instance, every morning from the beginning of semester two for half an hour I worked on this website and the content that was being published on it, when recording a single vocalist I always booked the studio for three hours to ensure we had ample time for troubleshooting any issues and getting the best takes possible, and I ensured all the recording would be done by the end of week eight so I had six weeks to make sure all my mixes were done and not rushed to completion. From a project management perspective, the only thing I would have liked to have done differently would be to have made more time in semester one to have finished recording all the vocal parts for the previously mentioned arrangements, otherwise I don’t think I could have managed it any other way. I am proud of my organisation, communication and the strong vision I carried with me throughout its duration. These are skills I will carry with me.
Where To From Here?
I am well aware that the genre A Cappella is a very niched and specific area, and there are not as many participants in it as there are other genres in music. However, it is important for me to think outside of an A Cappella only network. While I have asked to join different A Cappella Facebook groups where I can share my arrangements, I can also share my arrangements with several friends I have on Facebook who are members and directors of choirs, and talk to them about the prospect of their choirs using my arrangements. I also have my peers at Victoria University and my future peers at Melbourne University, with whom I’ll be able to share my arranging skills and potentially get work by arranging some pieces or vocal harmonies. Taking on a different perspective, I have also used my arrangements as part of my resume for an interview for the Masters of Teaching Secondary at Melbourne University, where they were evidence of my knowledge of the voice, music and my skills in the subject. I can continue using my arrangements as a resume in the future for being a vocal teacher, choir director with material ready to sing, or I could even use my project management as evidence of my ability to eventually successfully direct a musical or production. I feel that with this project I have given myself the opportunity to be extremely flexible within the music industry, and now that I have completed it, it’s time to start knocking on doors.
Am I Proud?
I am immensely proud; of myself and my team. I have been working tirelessly on this project for 18 months, and to finally see it completed is a really joyous moment. I am SO excited to finally share it with so many people; my family, friends, peers, my mentors, old music teachers who have been watching my progresses in university, my singing and piano students and their parents, and so many more people! There is a definite audience for my work in that respect, but I honestly believe that anyone who enjoys music, and who has an appreciation for arranging and the complexity of it, will want to view my work and will appreciate it. Is my work the best it could be? I don’t think that is something I will ever say with absolute confidence. In the moment I completed each task throughout my project I know my work was the best it could’ve been based on my skill level and ability. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and looking back now even after only a week since completing the final aspects of my arrangements and their recordings, I know there are things I could have done better in, such as double tracking the backing vocals. But as I said before, I am incredibly proud of my project and the quality I have completed it at. Please enjoy my Portfolio of A Cappella Arrangements
Written by Sir Elton John, Davey Johnstone and Bernie Taupin, ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues’ has long been a favourite song of mine. This was the third piece I arranged for an A Cappella group, and my main goal for the arrangement was to create more lyrical involvement for all the […]
The jazz standard written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern was only the second song I arranged for my Portfolio of A Cappella Arrangements, and given the harmonic structure of this piece, I must’ve been mad to tackle this so soon! I think I’ve done a decent job with the arrangement though and I’m proud […]
Who would’ve thought that such a big project as creating a Portfolio of A Cappella Arrangements would have stemmed from an idea beginning with the creation of this arrangement?! It was a no brainer for me that I would arrange this folk song, with Bear McCreary’s version capturing me from the moment I heard it. […]
Polaroid, written by Imagine Dragons, is the final addition to my Portfolio of A Cappella Arrangements. While I am proud of all my arrangements, I have to say that this one takes the cake for me. My aims for Polaroid were to; Work with more male vocalists since I have arranged mostly for women in […]