I get a lot of questions from singers about how to order musical arrangements for their show. I have been commissioning arrangements for over 20 years and now have had over 500 for all sorts of bands from jazz trio, big band and full orchestra. Most though have been for working on cruise ships and I have learned by my mistakes the best way to go about it. If you want to order some of my arrangements right now, scan down to the bottom of this article.
Commission your own charts
If you want to commission your own arrangements sit down with a pianist, agree keys, cuts, vamps (repeats), play-offs and anything special you want the band to do for you during a piece. Remember, it’s your show. You can do what you like. I love creating arrangements and putting medleys together, it can be a very fulfilling process. Take your time to get this right. A mistake here can be costly to correct later on.
In Cabaret Secrets I interviewed musical directors, pianists and arrangers and cover just about everything you need to know about commissioning arrangements and working with musicians, including:
- How to make a good first impression
- When to use instrumental breaks
- How challenging to make your arrangements
- The different compositions on bands on all the major cruise lines
- Tips of how to rehearse with the band
- Why musicians alter parts
The book’s out now in paperback and eBook formats. Click here to hear free Podcasts from musicians already headlining on cruise ships, Cruise Directors, agents and more. You can just skip to these podcasts from cruise ships MDs: Hamish Revell (Cunard), Joel Pierson (Crystal Cruises) and Joey Mix (Cunard). You may also like this from big band leader Joe Pettitt on how to get work with a big band.
There are a few guys I use to arrange most of my charts for ships. Here are their contact details but just as I earn no commission from them for referring clients, nor can I can’t take any responsibility for their work.
First, Phil Steel. He’s done some great small band and big band charts for me which were very reasonably priced and well received by the band.
Paul Campbell of MusicEtc. is a graduate of the Royal Collage and now arranging for full orchestras and big bands as well as small group. He’s done 100s of charts for me and produces stylish yet very playable arrangements.
Shaun Evans has a large library of cheap arrangements, but I cannot vouch for their quality. I hear comments from some people saying they are too simplistic or plain wrong, but they are cheap and could be a useful way to get going.
Simon Niblock arranges a lot for cruise ship production shows and numerous guest entertainers. He knows the business and what’s required better than most people.
Buy my tried and tested arrangements for only £20
I have decided to release a few of my tried and tested arrangements for sale. Click the button to see the list and make a purchase.