Friday, June 24, 2022

We have 85 titles on Pepper!

 


Dr. Earlene Rentz, Composer/Arranger/Publisher

We now have 85 titles on the J. W. Pepper website! I hope you will visit the site and enjoy the convenience of purchasing from them. It seemed that since choral directors already had accounts with Pepper, this would provide a major convenience to all of our customers for future purchases. 

In addition to publishing with Pepper, we look forward to seeing many of you at professional conferences. I'll be in the Pepper booth at TCDA in San Antonio from 3-4 PM on Thursday, July 21st, for a "Meet and Greet." If you are in Texas, and plan to come to TCDA, please come by and say "Hello!" Wanetta Hill and I will also have our own booth in San Antonio (#1336). 

I will be presenting a reading session at TCDA on July 21, from 2-3 PM. More details will be forthcoming in regard to the specifics (I don't have them at this time), but I can tell you that I will be presenting SSA and SSAA titles from Earlene Rentz Online Publications, LLC. Yes, the website is still selling music, if you prefer to receive the extra audio files and Rehearsal Preparation Sheets. Those are a few of the perks for website purchase. Please feel free to use your preferred method of purchase; whatever works for you, works for us.

We're well into the summer in regard to temperature! For those of us in the "Hot Zone," we are fortunate to have AC (at the moment) and lots of water. Stay safe, be cool, and keep on singing!




Wednesday, June 1, 2022

We go to J. W. Pepper!

 

Big news! After having been an independent online music publishing company for over a decade, things are changing...for the better! In order to provide greater convenience for church and school choral directors to order our music, Earlene Rentz Online Publications, LLC will now be associated with J. W. Pepper, the world's largest sheet music distributor. You likely know lots of the personnel there, and you already have contacts in place to continue purchases from EROP and others, making it so very easy to continue as EROP customers. Why the change? Read on....

Technology is galloping these days, and with the gallop comes the necessity that all components of one's system consistently operate successfully. In these days of planned obsolescence, that is becoming more and more challenging, given the required upgrades, installs, certificate issues, etc. So...why not let someone else handle that aspect of the business, while I do the thing I love the best....choral composition/arranging?

Have you noticed that everything has changed since the most challenging days of the pandemic...when the unknowns were terrifying and the results more so? Yes...everything has changed, and I truly don't mind changing with it. That's life, and that's the way it works. So...I'm delighted to send many of our compositions to J. W. Pepper, and let them handle all the issues. It really has given me a sense of freedom and alleviates the stress of unknown technological issues with unknown ways of solving for myself and my technology experts. "Support" is a misnomer. Yes....let someone else handle it!!

How to order? When you choose to order, just search for "Earlene Rentz," and EROP publications should show up first on your list of results (at least that's the way it works on my machine). 

Is your website still up and running? Yes! You may still order from the website, where there are additional materials that are yours only from this source: Rehearsal Preparation Sheets, Individual Voice Parts, etc. Your choice. 

Will you be working with other distributors? No....sorry. J. W. Pepper and our website will be the only places where our music will be available. It just keeps things simple, and allows time for me to continue writing music. I also have a church job that can be demanding in the busy seasons of the church calendar, so I appreciate your understanding.

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We want to make things as easy as possible for purchase of our music, but with new limitations from school districts regarding purchase, we have found that music distributors are the best way to go, and we chose J. W. Pepper.

Thank you for your continued support of our company, and we are excited to offer you convenience for purchase through J. W. Pepper. 

Many of our compositions will eventually be located on the J. W. Pepper site. Currently, we have 61 appearing on the site, with more to come. 

Thanks so much! Have a restful summer!! See you at summer conventions!!

Saturday, February 19, 2022

A few more convention photos

 Emily Stanton Brackney and her husband Doug Brackney came by the booth to visit. It is so heartening to know that a former student (Baylor) is now an incredible professional in music education, conducting sessions with "standing room only." I'm so proud of Emily and the person she has become in many areas of life...Mom, choral director, educator, etc. It was great to hear all about her family, and know that she is delighted with serving our state and nation in music education. Emily's sister Megan was also a former student (Baylor) who has developed into an impressive music educator, as is one parent. The whole family is singing and playing!

Emily, Me, Doug

How wonderful that friends from my church (South Main Baptist Church - Houston), Larry and Jacque Koch, came by the booth to meet other friends of EROP and see our presentation of materials for TMEA! They are so supportive, and have worked as international music educators all over the world. Their daughter is also a music educator. Their lives are exciting, rich, and compare to no others in my circle, in that they go across the globe teaching and preparing students in music education. They are an amazing couple! To hear of their experiences is fascinating. We need not stay in one place all of our lives to be contributors in sharing the power of music. We can go abroad to teach!

Larry and Jacque Koch, and Me

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Wanetta Hill has taught for so long in Texas...she knows everyone in the state! I have been delighted to get to know many of her friends from areas around Pampa and San Antonio. Wanetta introduced me to Eric Hindman and Michael Matlock. Eric's daughter Arin teaches with him in Seminole, Texas, where they have a wonderful choral program, and Michael teaches in the thriving Andrews High School choral program, a school that experienced a huge tragedy this fall when they lost their band director in a highly publicized bus accident. My thoughts and prayers have been with his school for a while. We hope for healing.


Eric Hindman, Me, Wanetta Hill, and Michael Matlock

Wanetta and I are grateful for each person who visited the booth, spoke a kind word, purchased music, allowed us to speak with them about our company....every interaction was delightful. We wish every choral music educator the very best in the spring of 2022 as they prepare their students for competition and festival. There is more to accomplish, and until then, we will do the very things we have been called to do in music...compose, teach, perform. It's a wonderful life! What a great title for a song...or a movie!

Friday, February 18, 2022

Conventions 2022: Any new insights?

 

Earlene Rentz

It was great to be back with music educators for a convention recently. I attended the Texas Music Educators Association Convention (TMEA), and I saw posts from numerous individuals all over the country via social media that all spoke of their delight in being back among "kindred spirits."

Music educators enjoy attending sessions and hearing wonderful performances. TMEA decided several weeks ago that there would be a mask requirement. Texas is like the rest of the country; COVID-19 cases are down in a huge way, and we are hopeful that musical "normalcy" will soon be "the norm." In all of the excitement among attendees, you would hardly know it was an inconvenience to wear masks, until it affected the choral sound or conversation between friends.

In Texas, some students in the All-State choirs were allowed to remove the masks on the last day of rehearsal. I spoke with someone who said the removal caused the need for choral adjustments that were undetected during masked rehearsals. I had not given that possibility much thought. How might the sound be different? What adjustments are likely? When I wear a mask in rehearsal, I can tell that I am pushing my voice in order to be heard clearly. Though the person did not elaborate, it makes sense that we would likely decrease the volume a bit in order to bring about the beautiful dynamic variations within most repertoire. Maybe there were too many explosive consonants that had to be tempered in sensitive passages. Adjustments were made, and the concert was beautiful.

It is obvious that the last day of the convention is "family time!" So many family members are roaming the exhibits to shop a bit before they attend their loved one's concert. To see the support of family is wonderful. Parental/Family support is worth its weight in gold. One important thing to realize is that even if no one shows up for the student, the power of music and the support of caring teachers sustain many students through the entire All-State process. A beautiful concert and the entire experience are enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Carmen Conaway is a choral parent from Midway ISD in Waco (one child in concert; one in All-State). Such a committed parent! Carmen and Eric joined South Main Baptist when my husband was pastor.


Look at these happy faces!! We're happy to be "out and about." Yes! Cedar Park Middle School!

I was particularly amazed at the enthusiasm of the attendees' desires to attend concerts. More than once I heard, "It was 'standing room only.'" I was totally thrilled to know that music educators are seeking out beautiful music, shown by their attendance. As you know, masks are not really comfortable, so I was doubly glad the crowd was willing

The highlight for me was to be able to see friends whom I had not seen for the entire "pandemic era." It was also great to make new friends, too. Per the photos on this blog post, four persons shown were choral musicians I had met for the first time at TMEA. They took the time to come by the booth to see Wanetta Hill and me. I enjoyed meeting Aaron Hufty, Susan Malone, Gabi Guest, Emma Graves, Texas King, Nancy Bransom, Gabriel Trevino, Ryan Brown, and many others! 

"Returning champions" were people like Megan Cooper Weston, Eric Hindman, Debbie Talley, René Combest Brain (and Jeff!), Morris Stevens, Ronnie Sanders, Larry and Jacque Koch, Priscilla Ouelette, Carmen Conaway, and Lizette Ochoa. Sooo many others too numerous to mention, but equally appreciated. I was so delighted to meet all who came by the booth!


Priscilla Ouelette, whom I met 20 years ago in Edinburg. She is in Mission, Texas now.


Susan Malone...I know many members of her family from Waco and Houston. She is in Midland.


Aaron Hufty from First Baptist in San Antonio dropped by the booth. Yes...we have Sacred Octavos!


A new friend!! Gabi Guest - Middle School Choral Director

Choral music educators love our profession! We love our students. Who would know that we committed our lives to one of 2020-2022's most dangerous professions? I found an article yesterday where it listed things "too dangerous to do" and (drum roll), singing is listed!! However, we are making it work! I am so proud of the choral music profession. 

In the years past, when experts mentioned the word "pandemic," I wasn't even sure of its meaning, and frankly, I didn't listen very closely to issues I was sure would never happen. Wrong!! Thankfully, we have made it "thus far," and we have a plan to make our lives work in the future. We're hanging in there.


I have such respect for my choral colleague and friend Morris Stevens (Austin, Texas)

So....music education marches onward!! TMEA was a great place to re-connect with positive philosophies of musical well-being among ourselves and our students. The financial affect of the pandemic has hit the music publishing industry in a huge way. Thankfully, we are seeing glimmers of hope, and I look forward to the day when we can share and sing our music in its most effective forms.

I was delighted to represent Earlene Rentz Online Publications, LLC. I was also grateful to see many persons return to our booth for "the latest in publications." Wanetta Hill, one of our lyricists who I think knows everyone in the state of Texas, was my booth-mate, and we were happy to sell our music as well as speak with music educators about that they need in their classrooms. 

"Thank you" for coming by to allow us to put a face with a name and know a little more about each of our faithful customers/colleagues/friends. You are our friends, and you are appreciated more than you know.

We repeated over and over the unique components of our company:   

1) Every octavo arrives to you within 3-5 seconds of purchase (files sent via links for downloading).

2) We can custom-make many aspects of all our octavos (key, voicing, simplified accompaniment, addition of an obligato instrument, range).

3) Every octavo comes with a Rehearsal Preparation Sheet, accompaniment mp3, individual voice parts (electronic) mp3, and the copyright allows for multi-copies for your choir.

In other words, our company goes the second and third mile for music education. We are delighted to be working for you.

Next? TCDA! Come by the booth and Wanetta Hill will take your photo!!




Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Greg Funderburk: Best-Selling Author, Lyricist, and Minister for Pastoral Care

 

Greg Funderburk  


The members of South Main Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, are fortunate to have a skilled author and lyricist as the Minister of Pastoral Care. Greg Funderburk has the knack of saying the appropriate things, in the appropriate ways, at the appropriate times. Hundreds of us have been comforted by his words during our most painful moments in life. As a result, some of us seek out Greg when we cannot find the "right word," and...he eventually finds it and expresses it with a clarity that we could only dream of conveying.

In addition to his lyrics, Greg Funderburk is now a best-selling author. His book The Mourning Wave recounts traumatic days in 1900 when the deadliest storm in America made landfall in Galveston, Texas. Another book by Greg, with an interesting perspective for our current lives is Let It Be Said We've Bourne It Well, a book about following God in the time of COVID-19 (we might be needing this for a while). It is available from Amazon. A new book entitled The Hurdles will be available in 2022. As you can see, Greg writes about navigating challenging times and assists us in finding ways to experience the presence of God in our difficulties.


Earlene Rentz Online Publications is fortunate to have Greg as a lyricist, and his creative, profound words continue to be worthy of our utmost consideration.

We often seek "home" in our journey of faith; a return to a moral center, a literal home, a return to normalcy, a return to comfort, peace, and that which we know to be who we really want to be. Greg's words send us into an acknowledgement of the darkness, then lead us into hope for the future. Click on the "Preview" to follow the score as you listen to the recording. SATB, Keyboard, and Cello

This text documents the literal journey of a "seeker" in search of a family of faith. As music draws the journeyman closer to a place of worship, they enter into fellowship with a congregation who welcomes them with open arms. The theme: "You are welcome here. You are not alone." SATB, with Baritone Solo and Cello

This meditative octavo in a reflective mood emphasizes the communication between an individual and the Almighty, as the listener is still and quiet. Written for SATB, Keyboard, and Cello.

Greg reflects on the challenge of being a graduate going out into the world during these days of uncertainty. Written for SATB Voices and Cello.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded to listen as we encounter the Almighty in our daily journey of faith. SATB

Greg Funderburk's lyrics, as set to music by Earlene Rentz, come from a creative place of kindness, insight, comfort, and hope. As we sing and read his words in these uncertain days, we can be confident that with a few "tweaks" along the journey, our faith is enough to withstand the uncertainty as it leads us with hope toward the future.






Saturday, October 23, 2021

Be Thou My Vision - SSA Voicing (Chapelwood UMC Women's Choir)


I am once again enjoying conducting an ensemble of women at Chapelwood United Methodist Church here in Houston. The Women's Choir sang my arrangement of Be Thou My Vision a few weeks ago, and I was delighted with their performance. 

Because BTMV is a Celtic hymn, I wanted to use instruments that are familiar in the Celtic tradition. Most churches can find three or four instrumentalists in their own congregations who will enhance this arrangement. Most of the Celtic hymn arrangements I heard in my research incorporated the use of cello and piano (maybe harp), and all other combinations varied. For example, sometimes there were various groupings that might have included a dulcimer, guitar, mandolin, tin whistle, flute, harp, bagpipes, etc. 

The wide variety of appropriate instruments makes this arrangement very accessible to most music programs. My philosophy is this: Use whatever is available. There are enough instrumental parts written that you can make it work easily. If your instrumentalists are skilled enough to improvise, please allow them to do just that. This is the Celtic tradition.

For this performance at Chapelwood, we had a flute, mandolin, guitar, organ, piano, and cello. The choir joined the women for the last verse, even though the entire congregation may also have joined. 

There are a variety of ways to present Celtic music and most can be effective, given the preparedness of the players. Listen to this performance by the Chapelwood Women's Choir. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVeDVueu5Gs




Sunday, October 17, 2021

Best of Friends

 

Andy Meginniss

In my previous blog, I introduced you to Andy Meginniss, an inductee into the Alabama Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2011, and a member of the bluegrass group Three on a String (based in Birmingham, Alabama).

As I indicated, Andy's group (and several other groups Andy has joined during his long career in music) sings Best of Friends as their closing number. With the assistance of my high school choral director, Dr. Bill Caldwell, I was introduced to Andy and the song. My first thought was..."What a wonderful way to leave a concert, with the audience knowing "presence" was appreciated." Such a great thing! It seems to be a perfect song for these days of singing with our friends.

As I listened to the words, I thought about all of us in choral music...students, choral directors, choir members in churches, choral professionals, retired choral professionals, those who play instruments in ensembles, those who sing in small ensembles, those who perform professionally on the stage, and those who write for "all of the above." 

Best of Friends speaks for all of us who love making music with our friends (as Willie would say). Willie Nelson has been the voice of wisdom for decades, and I think we finally "got" that song in 2020, as everyone was "chomping at the bit" to get on the road again. We had to wait, and it was the most incredible exercise in patience I've experienced in a while...wait on the vaccine...wait to sing again...wait for normalcy.

If nothing else came out of 2020, it was an immense appreciation for our friends...our unaccessible friends (for many months). It was an emotional time for some. Singing is the aural representation of pure joy, and without it, life becomes quite empty and we lose our way (just like the St. Francis reference). 

Since we have this amazing gift at this moment (we won't take singing for granted again!), let's use it to celebrate our friends!!

Best of Friends is available in Unison2-Part3-Part MixedSSATBTTB, and TBB.

When you visit Earlene Rentz Online Publications, you will find an audio example of Andy singing Best of Friends at the bottom of each page. There is also an electronic choral example provided as well. In addition, Andy has created an MP3 accompaniment with guitar, bass, drums, and piano (free).

The focus of the song refers to the love of friendship, knowing that we remain in the hearts of those with whom we enjoy music, whether in their presence or not.

"We know even best of friends must sometimes be apart, and we'll always keep your memory in our heart."

Enjoy making music with your friends!