John Gibson was born in Dallas, Texas, where he began taking clarinet lessons with Oakley Pittman, director of bands at Southern Methodist University and principal clarinetist with the Dallas Symphony. After John and his family moved to Denver, Colorado, he studied with the retired principal clarinetist of the Denver Symphony, Val (Tiny) Henrich. He continued his studies with David Etheridge, Jerry Neil Smith, and John McGrosso at the University of Colorado, from where he received a degree in music education and a masters of music performance. While in college, John discovered his interest in arranging, taking classes in that topic whenever possible.
Although not always working in the music business, John never stopped playing. While clarinet has been his principal instrument, he also played oboe in orchestras for about eight years, as well as flute and saxophone in other venues.
John has been supplying woodwind players with interesting, well-crafted arrangements since 1998 and has arranged hundreds of pieces ranging from solos to duets to large woodwind ensembles, which have been performed all over the world and reviewed in international woodwind magazines.
1. How long have you been arranging/composing?
I began arranging in college and while I was a public school band director. In 1998 I decided to market my arrangements through a new business based on the internet, JB Linear Music.
2. What inspired you to begin arranging/composing?
My clarinet teacher in college (Jerry Smith) did lots of arrangements for the University of Colorado Marching Band in the 1960s and I was fascinated with how he could take a tune and make something new and different out of it. I also took a few composition and arranging classes in college. Then, while teaching band, I discovered the need to provide marching band arrangements for my students as well as fresh materials for concerts for the younger kids.
3. Who are some of your musical role models?
I mentioned Jerry Smith above. Also: Henry Mancini (who wrote a great book about arranging) and other classical composers who did many arrangements…Franz Liszt, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Handel (who kept arranging his own music for different things), Arnold Schoenberg, and so on.
4. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
I use music of composers that is in the public domain and arrange or transcribe it for various groupings of woodwinds.
5. What appeals to you about the Digital Print Publishing Program?
I had been marketing my music via PDF download for about 10 years on my own website and decided to close it down and try other sales venues. Sheet Music Plus’ Digital Print Publishing fit right into what I had been doing and it has been a positive experience in getting my music to the public.
6. What effect has the Digital Print Publishing Program had on your career?
Well, I thought I was “retiring”, but the success of selling on Sheet Music Plus has postponed that a bit, although I am freed up from trying to run a website now. As I found out in my music performing, retiring is not that easy to do!
7. What do you feel has been the “secret” to your success with Digital Print Publishing? Any helpful hints for those just getting started?
Number one is to pick the right music to arrange. There is plenty of great music out there that simply does not lend itself to arranging for other instrument combinations. Also, become aware of what your sheet music audience wants and needs. For example, I specialized in doing lots of Christmas music, since there is a great need for musicians to have new music to perform around that time of year. Know your customer, in other words.
8. What advice would you give to arrangers/composers looking to get their music out into the world?
Make sure your offering is high quality in its musical interest and technical application. Don’t slack on the quality of music notation and have good audio files with decent instrumental sounds or even a live performance – that is best. Please, no horrible cheap MIDI stuff.
9. What are you working on now that may appear on Sheet Music Plus soon?
I am working with some music by Emmanuel Chabrier for woodwind quintet.