Bryan Sharpe is a 2008 Kettering Fairmont graduate who was extremely active in the music department as a trombonist and vocalist. We reached out to Bryan and asked him to share his story of how he went from the KMS trombone section to become a nationally-known choral music arranger. This is his story in his own words.
I graduated from KFHS in 2008 and actively participated in both the instrumental and choral programs throughout my four years at Fairmont. During my time at Fairmont and through the encouragement of my various music teachers and directors, I was challenged to write an arrangement for Fusion during my Junior year at the time under the direction of Fairmont alum Rachel (Henry) Mosher. After performing this arrangement throughout the year with Fusion, the arrangement carried over into my senior year and was performed by Eleventh Hour eventually being recorded and landing on Best of High School A cappella 2008. Though this particular arrangement may have left plenty to be desired from a musical standpoint, it was certainly the launching pad that began my trajectory in arranging.
Fortunately, after graduating from Fairmont and proceeding to Wright State to study music education, my former high school directors continued to educate and invest in my arranging interests. I soon began arranging for Eleventh Hour and before I knew it, due to Brody McDonald’s gracious recommendations, began arranging for more and more a cappella groups across Ohio and eventually the country.
Fast-forward to 2012 as I was graduating from Wright State and as Brody McDonald was working on his first book with Alfred Publishing, A cappella Pop. As Brody was developing this book and beginning a relationship with Alfred’s editor, he (again, graciously) introduced me to his editor at an OMEA conference where I provided him with some samples of my work. Hoping for the best but trying not to get my hopes up too much, I was approached by Alfred about publishing an arrangement of Forget You by Cee Lo Green which I arranged for Eleventh Hour. Needless to say, this was pretty cool but I honestly thought this would be a one and done kind of deal.
As the Forget You deal was developing, I was also beginning my first job out of college. Call it fate, a happy accident, or dumb luck, this first job happened to be for The Lorenz Corporation, a print music publisher in Dayton that is prominent in both school and church markets of the music industry. My position at Lorenz afforded me the immense fortune of developing relationships with our editors and composers and the ability to learn from them, examine their talents, and research the market on a day-to-day basis. At this point I began expanding my writing and arranging interests and endeavors from mostly pop a cappella music to more traditional choral music, both sacred and secular. Through plenty of arrangements that missed (and currently miss) the mark, the feedback, criticism, encouragement, and opportunities from the mentors and colleagues with whom I work closely has continued to challenge my writing and musicianship.
To date, I’ve completed approximately 500 commissions for choirs and a cappella groups and have over 20 published arrangements and compositions in print. I couldn’t be more sincere when I credit the music department at Fairmont for its contribution to my career and the supremely talented and invested music faculty at Fairmont for being remarkably good at what they do to educate, inspire, and challenge their students until graduation and beyond.
Check out his bio on Alfred Music