England’s Queen Victoria was the first person to begin referring to herself in the plural: “We are not amused”.
Classical Collection Inc was started in 1994 by myself, John Montgomery, and a partner, another musician, who has since “bowed out” of the company. So “Classical Collection Inc. - about us” is really about me - so I’ll stop using the plural, so that I won’t be mistaken for Queen Victoria.
John Montgomery’s background
(Referring to myself in the 3rd person is better than in the plural - but from now on maybe I’ll stick to “I” and “me”.)
I began playing (I can’t really say “studying”) the Clarinet in Grade 5, adding the Saxophone & Flute five years later - eventually gaining an Associate of Music (in Clarinet Performance) from the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music, a Bachelor of Music (in Music Education) and a Master of Music (in Music Theory) both from the University of Western Ontario (Canada).
After graduation I began a career, which continues today, as a freelance professional musician (Flute, Clarinet & Saxophone), private teacher/tutor and musical arranger/copyist.
It is this last area (musical arranger/copyist) that brought about Classical Collection Inc. After decades of work doing hand copying of music, I began noticing more and more computer generated scores & parts - which were beginning to look very professional. Computer scores & parts started out as very “clunky” and difficult to read dot-matrix printouts but quickly progressed to Laser and Ink Jet.
With handwritten parts, because it took years to gain a good “hand” (i.e., look), you could usually tell by the script (handwriting) how good (or bad) an arrangement would be, before you even played it. In addition, errors or ambiguities because of illegibly in the parts were not acceptable, especially at the professional level. However, with the advent of good computer notation programs and printers in the 1990’s, an amateur could now produce a score & parts that actually looked better than the most seasoned professional’s handwritten copies.
Because of this in late 1993 I began using the music notation program Finale . My original idea was to enter complete orchestral scores of Flute or Clarinet solos and use Finale to create piano reductions. But when I heard the playback of the complete scores with each instrument on a different channel, each with different pan (right/left spacial placement) - it seemed anticlimactic to create a reduction - why not have the entire score as an accompaniment.
Saving the scores as MIDI files (MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
would allow a Soloist to use a MIDI player to play back the complete
score (with dynamics, pan, etc.) and have the option of changing the
speed without changing the pitch - and so Classical Collection Inc was
Our first publications (oh no, there’s that plural again - but I guess it is alright, at that point in time there were two of us) were Volumes of Flute & Clarinet (and eventually Saxophone) Solos with MIDI Accompaniment on a 3.5 inch floppy disc (I don’t even know if they exist any more!). This series continued and expanded from Collections of Elementary & Intermediate Level Solos to Advanced Level Books of individual major works. See: Other Flute Solos with Full Orchestral Accompaniment , Other Clarinet Solos with Full Orchestral Accompaniment and Sax Solos.
But MIDI was a “hard sell”. The ability to change the speed without changing the pitch and to start or stop wherever you wanted was available on almost any MIDI player and there were many free ones available for download. However, how good (or bad) the playback sounded did depend on what was being used to produce the sounds. A good sound module sounded, well ... good; samples sounded like real instruments, because, of course, that’s what they were - samples of real players. But most people used synthetic electronic sounds - which in the 1990’s ranged from awful to really incredibly awful (“Is that a kazoo, an accordion or a clarinet?” - the answer was often “Yes”, because it was indeed the same sound being used for all three).
By 2002 Finale’s softsynth used for playback had improved so dramatically that I began using it to make audio CDs of the MIDI accompaniments. The series now comes with a CD containing an audio version of each solo, with and without the solo part, in addition to the MIDI files.
A new series called Exam Preparation Kits (see Other Flute Solos with Full Orchestral Accompaniment and Other Clarinet Solos with Full Orchestral Accompaniment ) was also begun in 2002. This series comes with the Solo Flute or Clarinet part, piano accompaniment part, etc.., and an audio CD.
Again Finale’s playback capabilities and sounds have improved each year - beginning in 2005 it including actual sample sounds of Garritan Personal Orchestra.
The realism of the playback sounds on an audio CD is fantastic, but I still missed the ability to be able to change the speed.
In 2004, MakeMusic , the manufacturer of Finale and SmartMusic asked me to become a Clinician, demonstrating and showing how to better use both Finale and SmartMusic. I had used Finale for over a decade with Classical Collection Inc publications and also as a freelance arranger and copyist for many organizations from Symphonic Orchestras to Professional Musical Theatre. The Clinicians training session in November 2004 was my first direct exposure to SmartMusic and I was quite impressed by it.
I immediately began using SmartMusic in my private teaching (using a lap top computer) and began adapting many of the Classical Collection Inc solos and accompaniments to SmartMusic. In 2005 I became a MakeMusic Clinician (the 2nd in Canada) and began doing clinics demonstrating both Finale and SmartMusic.
Classical Collection Inc series: Flute Solos with SmartMusic Accompaniment and Clarinet Solos with SmartMusic Accompaniment is the result of “all of the above”
I am able to use Finale to create both top level professional printed Flute and Clarinet Solo parts and the SmartMusic smp files to play the Full Orchestral Accompaniments
- the best of all worlds.
I had an adult beginning level Saxophone Student who, after six
months of lessons asked the seemingly simple question: “When do I get
to play The Blues?”
I discovered that there were several intermediate and advanced level books dealing with The Blues but there were no simple or beginning level books. Blues for Saxophone was created (for ANY Saxophone) with a CD containing 36 Audio Tracks (12 Alto, 12 Tenor & 12 C Melody) and 120 SmartMusic Files (for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone & C Melody Saxophone).
Similarly, a parent of a beginning level Flute Student asked about “simple” music which could be performed at a friend’s wedding. Again, I was quite surprised that no such collections existed so Easy Wedding Music for Flute was created along with Intermediate Level Wedding Music for Flute and Wedding Music for Flute (Advanced Level) . All include a Piano Accompaniment part and a Play-A-Long Audio CD and also have a compatible Flute Duet Book available.
Complete Solo Collections for Flute & Clarinet was created as a simple and convenient way to have all of the Solo Flute or Clarinet parts of one composer available for practice, study or performance in a single volume.
Conservatory Books for Flute & Clarinet were created at the request of numerous music stores.
A continuing project, begun in 2009, has been creating Piano Accompaniment parts, which also come with Play-A-Long Audio CDs. The goal is to have piano parts available for ALL Classical Collection Inc. publications. Several works already come with or have Piano Accompaniments available: “Exam Preparation Kits”, “Conservatory Books”, “Wedding Music (for Flute)” and “Christmas Collection”.
A recent project, begun in the fall of 2010, has been adding Contemporary Works. With a name like “Classical Collection Inc”, this is a totally new area. All of my publications have been “Public Domain” - which in Canada, means that the composer has been dead for at least 50 years. I am starting small (2 works) but definitely plan to expand in this area.
The most recent project, begun in 2013, is Orchestra Solos. Until this new series, all pieces have been works for Solo Instrument (Concertos, etc.) featuring Solo Flute, Clarinet or Saxophone. This new series presents standard works for full orchestra (such as Overtures, Suites and even Symphonies) with a Play-A-Long Audio CD, which also contains SmartMusic Files. Available for Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone, most works have a compatible Duet Book (for two similar instruments) and Piano Accompaniment Book (with Audio CD) - both sold separately.
The Solo part is not be merely an Orchestral Excerpts book using the 1st Flute or Clarinet part of the work. The melody, regardless of the original instrument, is featured throughout. This means that in order to maintain “friendlier” key signatures, the work is often transposed up a semitone from the original.
The purpose of this series is to:
- better understand or study the work and its composer
(you can’t get more “inside” a piece than actually playing it)
- perform the work as a Duet or Solo with Piano Accompaniment
- simply experience the fun of actually playing the piece
Vivaldi Complete Flute Concertos - 16 Concertos (including 3 for Piccolo and 2 for Recorder) with SmartMusic accompaniment (and Piano accompaniment with Audio CD)
Christmas Collection (originally available for Flute, Clarinet or Alto Sax) has now been greatly expanded and available to a wide variety of instruments.
If you have any comments, suggestions or requests for future projects, please feel free to contact me at Contact Us.