2016 Roundup: My Year In Review

I wanted to take a little time and reflect before finishing up my 2016 Roundup with this Year in Review. 2016 was a year to remember.


I published a new post on this site every day in 2016, a total 366 total posts. Unlike past years, I didn’t publish any guest posts in 2016: every word was mine.

I totaled over 72,000 words written for my blog this year; That averages to about 6,000 a month or roughly 200 per day. That’s always my goal – an easily and quickly readable post.

I maintained a weekly newsletter collecting my writings for that week, as well as occasional extras and updates on my work. (Apologies for letting that slip since Christmas…that will be coming back shortly!)


I wrote five a cappella SSAA arrangements for 2015-16 Noteworthy.

I set a rollicking Michigan lumberjack song, Once More A-Lumbering Go, for MEME, the Michigan Educators Male Ensemble. They premiered it at the Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses, Inc. Biennial Symposium at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in March. It’s currently being considered for publication.

I was lucky to be asked to set my former student’s powerful piece, Be The Change for premiere at the ACDA-Michigan Fall Conference by the Rockford High School Advanced Women’s Ensemble. It was a powerful performance of a beautifully rendered piece. I received several requests for the piece after the performance, and we hope to find a publication home for it soon.

I provided two re-orchestrations/arrangements of Christmas pieces, Schlafendes Jesuskind and Gesu Bambino, for the West Michigan Symphony (conductor Scott Speck). They performed them for their annual Christmas concerts this past December.

I wrote a TTBB a cappella medley of Christmas songs, The Manly Christmas Medley, a commission for two fine Michigan conductors.

I wrote thirty-three band charts in a single week for this year’s Rockford HS Cabaret. Phew!

I saw my 2016 sight reading for MSVMA published (both Choral Festival and Solo & Ensemble) and completed the 2017 editions. This is my sixth year writing sight reading materials for MSVMA.

The onset of full-time school for all my sons couldn’t have come at a better time – I have never had a busier commission schedule. I’ll be sure to point towards premieres as they come up. And if you’re interested in commissioning something for the 2017-18 season, now’s the time to hit me up!


The Rockford Aces 2015-16 made excellent music last year, performing much challenging music. They recorded in the studio for the Aces’ fourth studio album (aiming for June release) and performed their annual concert with aplomb! I’m always amazed at what a dozen committed and driven high school students can achieve when given the opportunity.

We premiered Michael McGlynn’s May, commissioned by the Aces with the help of the Rockford Education Foundation, in the spring of 2016. It was a humbling and enriching experience for all of us. I’m looking forward to getting their excellent recording out into the world!

We also had the premiere performance of the RAMChoir – an intergenerational TTBB choir that included high school staff members, parents, and students from band, choir, and the wider student population. I thought it was a great success – Aces acted as section leaders as we prepared four pieces for performance in June with only five rehearsals.

Aces 2016-17 are coming along well: they have given excellent performances, grown their ears and repertoire considerably, and are well-prepared for the festival season starting next weekend. We’ve set goals of visiting elementary schools throughout Rockford and recording six new tracks for the album in the coming months!

Professional Growth

I developed a new project, the Michigan Choral Commission Consortium, whose mission is to facilitate new choral works by putting together groups of choirs across Michigan. Ten choirs from across Michigan joined the inaugural consortium, which commissioned a brand new a cappella work (original text) from Alice Parker: We Are A Chorus. I am looking forward to round two: we hope to engage twenty choirs and commission two pieces, including an SATB work from Andrea Ramsey.

I remain on the ACDA-Michigan Executive Board as Webmaster/Editor and deployed a brand-new version of the website. I am working on establishing a weekly publishing schedule for the site with new choral content, though that has not been without hiccups.

I remain on the MSVMA Full Board, where I helped manage the 2016 Summer Workshop, plan the 2017 Summer Workshop, and have worked with Ginny Kerwin, Greg Jasperse, Mark Krempski, and Angel Gippert to plan the inaugural MSVMA All-State Jazz Choir. It will be hosted at the Michigan Music Conference in January, 2018 with Greg Jasperse conducting. I am so excited to be part of bringing this vision to life and providing a high-profile outlet for jazz vocal ensemble singing in the Michigan choral scene. It’s been on my radar for almost 15 years!

I took on roughly 10 private students, in piano, voice, and composition. Carving out time for these lessons is hard, but I learn as much as my students do in my attempts to express my insights and knowledge clearly to my students.

Every day I am looking for more and better ways to give back to my professional community – with my time, with my attention, and with my words. If you have an idea for a project we could work together on to make the choral community stronger, please contact me!

Personal Growth

I baked more than 110 loaves of bread in 2016, and probably made about 250 pizzas. Cooking remains an outlet for me to clear my head of music, and a tangible way to express my love for family and friends.

I read 27 books in 2016. I find it hard to carve out as much time for reading as I want to, but am also mindful that I read a lot more than many. It fills my spirit.

As I wrote in August, I ended my career as a full-time at-home parent in 2016. The transition was sudden and gradual and has been full of challenges and joys. I miss the hourly connection, but am loving watching my boys blossom ever more into themselves.

I earned my 2-gallon blood donor pin in late-2016. This is a challenge I have to face every two months, as getting that needle poke is not my ideas of fun! I was first inspired by an inaugural member of the Rockford Aces, and I think of Tom every time I donate. It is a tangible way to give myself to help other people. (Next donation is 1 week from today!)

I rediscovered and recommitted to Duolingo this fall, and have made substantial progress towards my goal of learning Swedish. The daily streak aspect and the digestible lessons and repetition have been a very positive experience for me; I recommend it for anyone interested in languages. It has reminded me that every skill is achievable in 5-minutes-a-day, with consistent deliberate practice. Duolingo currently pegs me at nearly 20% proficient in Swedish; not bad for a few months of work!

My life is full in the best possible ways, and on the horizon I see possibilities I couldn’t have dreamed even a few years ago. Every day I try to do the best I can at the job in front of me, and on most days I see positive change.