Ep. 17: Listener Success Stories (& Music!)

Episode Description:

Today marks the one year anniversary of the podcast and we’re celebrating with a special episode featuring success stories and music submitted by seven of our listeners: Anthony Susi, Dan Bennett, Eric Copeland, Marc Paquette, Stepehen DeCesare, Connie Boss, and Steve Danielson.

Music Featured in this episode:

A Joyous Sleigh Ride

Mingulay Boat Song

Hope For Planet Sea

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Summer Rain

Lost and Found 

Take Me Back

Episode Transcript:

*Episode transcripts are automatically generated and have NOT been proofread.*

Hello, I’m Anthony Soussi from Meriden, Connecticut.


I had a hard time choosing one success story because a number of my compositions and arrangements have been passed over multiple times by various publishers and reworked as many as six times before they hit the right set of ears by a reviewer. Goes along with the old saying, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I thought I would share the story behind my top-selling piece for string orchestra as an example of success.


I wrote a joyous sleigh ride for my dad when he was dying from cancer around Christmas time of 2011. My dad loved classical music and was also a big fan of Aaron Copeland’s music, so I wanted to compose something in those genres. I wound up taking Handel’s Joy of the World and setting it in a style similar to Copeland’s Hoedown from Rodeo.


Fortunately, he got to hear my computer-generated version before he passed away, and I included it on my instrumental CD Christmas Canticles that I sold at my gigs and online. Fast forward to 2019, I submitted it to Grand Mesa Music. The owner, Walter Cummings, suggested I add a sleigh bell part, and the string editor, Cameron Law, thought it got bogged down in D major and that there was too much drone from the cellos and basses.


They ultimately passed on it. I really believed in this piece and wanted to have it published in my dad’s honour, so I set to work rewriting it, incorporating their feedback. I created more interesting lines for the cellos and basses, modulated two-thirds of the way through from D major to A major, and added an optional sleigh bell part as well as a tambourine part.


Because of COVID, I had to wait until 2021 to resubmit it, and this time it was accepted. The piece was released in May of 2022, and I’m proud to say it not only sold 133 copies by December, but it was also performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. The moral of this story is persistence in patience can pay off.


Not taking constructive comments personally, not giving up, and willingness to rewrite a piece as many times as it takes to get it right can get you far in this very competitive business. Thanks to all the composers who tuned in today for listening to my success story, and I sincerely wish you all the best. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Hello, my name is Dan Bennett.


I’m a choir conductor and arranger from Canberra, Australia. I love this podcast. Keep up the great work, Garrett.


The arrangement I’m sharing with you is my SATV arrangement of the Scottish folk song called the Mingolet Boat Song. I first heard this song sung by the Canberra Shanty Club. There’s also a lovely version by the Longest Johns.


I’ve sold a few copies via Arrange.me, but the reason I really love it is because my community choir called Strange Weather loves singing it. I arranged it for them. It’s in a rollicking 9-8 time signature.


The melody is passed around, and I’ve tried to create variation between verses by changing the texture in the vocals and the piano part. It’s a lot of fun to conduct. The recording you hear was recorded at a workshop in a pub, so it does sound a little rowdy, but we had a lot of fun.


Thanks for this opportunity. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ And we’ll light the sunsets on Bingley Lane. Give a ho voice, let a glo voice, sing ahead, let a glo voice say we love you.


Ships return now from those golden islands. They’ll return, yes, when the sun sets. Say we love you.


Give a ho voice. Say we love you. My name is Eric Copeland, and this is a sheet music story.


I composed a piece for one of my master’s recitals, and since it was COVID times, we had to make videos of our pieces for an online graduation recital. Now, one of my pieces made a particularly nice video, so I decided to put it up on my John Eric Copeland Composer YouTube channel. Some time later, I was contacted by a lady who led a group that performed with a similar but strange ensemble as the song, which was flute, marimba, piano, and violin.


She wanted to know if the piece was available as sheet music, and since I did have the score finished, I told her it was, and she asked how she could buy a copy of the score for her group to perform. So I quickly uploaded the score to arrangeme.com and put what I thought was a fair price for the length and instrumentation, which was $49. Well, the group quickly bought the arrangement, and it’s even premiered it as well, so it has really spurred me to get more of my pieces up to sheet music sales pages, including classical pieces, but also solo piano and other duet and ensemble pieces, and I’m even writing pieces just for this use.


So another great source of passive income for my music, and that’s my sheet music story. Hey, Garrett. This is Mark Bukett from Stanford, Virginia.


I recently found your podcast after hearing you on the Make Music Income podcast. Due to family needs and health issues, I’m going through a season in life where I do not have time to perform. I’ve been looking for some creative outlet, and I thought that I would take a stab at arranging after hearing your podcast.


I’m a former marine musician and have a passion for playing music for ceremonies and significant life events. My goal is to create arrangements for small ensembles and unique instrumentation so musicians can build a repertoire for these special events. The arrangement I’m submitting is from my first published arrangement of Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.


I’ve arranged it as a wind trio, or it can also be a wind duo with the first and third parts only. So far, I’ve published a flute trio, clarinet trio, saxophone trio, double reed trio, and bassoon trio. By the time this recording is out, I also hope to have some brass trios published.


The recording I’m submitting is of the double reed trio with oboe, English horn, and bassoon. I really enjoyed how this arrangement sounds in StaffPad, and this is the audio extract from StaffPad. Thank you again, Garrett, for this past year of content that I’m getting caught up on, and I look forward for next year’s content to come.


Hello, everyone. This is Stephen Desessary, and I am from Johnston, Rhode Island. You know, that state on the eastern seaboard that some people seem to think is a part of Connecticut for some reason.


Well, I pretty much am a self-taught composer and arranger. I do have degrees in music, but I never was taught anything about composition or arranging. I was pretty much told that if you want to learn anything, look at what the masters did.


So I also musically directed shows, Broadway shows, opera, all that kind of thing, pretty much anything with a note in front of it, and learned what they did and how they did it, because I saw techniques that I’m going, oh, that sounds interesting, and just incorporated it, and it just caught on. And I have been of the time period where you send pieces to publishers and spend a lot on mailing, and then you wait that three to six months for that infamous letter to arrive saying, oh, we can’t use this, for whatever reason or whatever they give you. But I’ll tell you, I have over about 24,000 pieces now, and self-publishing has been a godsend.


And it is extremely humbling to see people make videos of my music on YouTube, and they write me saying how they’ve been inspired by it, and I see recordings of it here and there, and I’m going, this is unbelievable. And I mean, it’s not just here in the United States. This has touched a lot of people all over the planet, and it’s a dream come true.


So I hope I can do this till I pretty much can’t anymore, and I hope you enjoy the piece that I have submitted, and it is a piece called Summer Rain. And the musical pretty much says everything about it. It has a lot of classical style plus Broadway style and impressionistic style.


I don’t like labeling my things. If it makes you feel good, I’m happy. All right, again, so this is Stephen Desessary, and I thank you so much for listening to my piece and my little story, and I hope everyone has a great day.


Hi, my name is Connie Boss, and I live in a small town called Salisbury in Missouri. I’ve been composing songs for probably over 20 years now, and I kind of find that the best thing is to write about something that you’ve ever experienced or something you know a lot about. This song in particular is, I went through a divorce years ago, but I found new love, and so the song is more about finding new love.


And I will be married 40 years in September. I hope you enjoy this song, and thank you, Garrett, very much for this opportunity. And I was feeling a little lost and down Until I found this one lost and found Yeah, baby, I was so lost You don’t know just what it cost Cause I was sitting here all alone Then you called me up on the phone You found my broken heart You mended what broke apart I loved having you around I was lost but now I’m found My heart got broke last time around It shattered with a hit of ground And I was feeling really lost and down Until you found it in the lost and found It was a big surprise I could hardly believe my eyes You found my heart and gave it back to me My broken heart was finally free And you found me, baby, I know All I know is that I love you so I was lost and now I’m found And I love having you around My heart got broke last time around It shattered with a hit of ground And I was feeling really lost and down Until you found it in the lost and found I love you, baby I love you, baby I love you, baby I was lost but now I’m found Hey, this is Steve Danielson.


I’m a composer, conductor, and teacher from Olympia, Washington, though I’m going to be shortly moving to Meridian, Idaho. First of all, Garrett, thank you for this opportunity to share this piece with your audience. It’s so crucial for composers to have a place to get their voices heard.


The piece I’d like to tell you about today, where I think I’ve found some success, is called Take Me Back, a New American Folk Song. I haven’t sold an exorbitant amount of copies of this piece yet, though I feel it’s gaining some traction. No, I feel more success in the journey of this piece as I’ve been finding my voice as a composer.


I wrote Take Me Back in 2015 in preparation for a choir tour that I was taking my students on to New York City. It was going to be a big trip for us, culminating with a performance in Carnegie Hall. I also knew that one of the first things we would be doing on this trip was to perform on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building.


For those that haven’t been there, you usually take an elevator up to the 80th floor and then either take the stairs or a second elevator up to the last remaining flights to the observation deck. So I knew a lot of people would be coming by while my choir was singing, so I thought it’d be really cool for my students to have something brand new to perform. Since we would be singing in the Empire State Building in New York City, I wanted to write something with an Americana flavor.


I looked at several folk songs and decided instead of arranging something that already existed, I would write a new folk song. I mean, how hard could it be, right? It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say with my modern folk song. We just don’t sing or make folk songs like people used to do.


We live in a very different world today than that of days gone by. Bingo. That became the heart of my piece.


Let’s look back to a, shall I say, simpler time when people sang for work, for play, to mourn, to celebrate, to connect with others and to share stories. Let’s look back at that time and learn what we can that will help us move forward. Can we use the past to learn for the future? I took this idea and sketched out some basic text.


Now, one of my favorite aspects of some old folk songs is the nonsensical nature of some of them. So I wrote some nonsensical verses about little Robin Ross and his mule, Master Dave. I see their antics as a reflection of that simpler time when things could just be fun for the sake of being fun.


The premiere of this piece in New York went well. We sang it again later at our spring concert. And then later, when I attended the University of Washington to earn my doctorate, Dr. Gisele Weyers asked if I had a piece that would be appropriate for the UW Chorale.


So I brought her Take Me Back, and they gave a stellar performance of the piece. I knew then that I had something special. Then in 2018, I got the job of conducting the Ensign Symphony and Chorus in Seattle, Washington.


I had done some arranging for the group before, but only choral parts. Now that I was the conductor, I wanted to go big. So I set myself the task of orchestrating Take Me Back.


I had never orchestrated anything before, so it was a pretty bold move. But I got some advice from a friend to trust my ear and my compositional instincts. I worked and tweaked and worked and tweaked, and finally, I had something I was happy with.


What made me happier was that my orchestra was happy playing it. We premiered the orchestration at the June 2019 concert, and we are performing it again on June 23rd for what will sadly be my last performance with the ensemble before I move. This piece has been gaining more attention and more performances in the past couple of years.


It’s currently still published and available on my website, sdcomposed.com, and I recommend that everyone go check it out. So here is Take Me Back, a new American folk song, here performed by the Ensign Symphony and Chorus, with me, Steve Danielson, conducting. Can’t you feel what you see You’ll find I love you to see Mr. D D went to school And ran some errands And taught Robin to behave Can’t you feel what you see I love you to see Can’t you feel what you see I love you to see Into town came Robin Master Dave in tow They reached the town square And jumped in the air And danced the door-side dough Robin was a miser His mule was a gent He gave sweet kisses To all the missus Everywhere they went Been a busy man Never seen him Never seen him Turn the world around And we’ll sing it to the end