Choral student has first song published

What began as a school project has now made Drew Mills, a senior at UNA, a published composer. Mills now owns the rights to “All Blessings Flow,” a choral arrangement he had published through St. James Music Press.

The song is Mills’ adaption of the familiar hymn “Old Hundredth,” commonly used as a doxology in church services. Along with being published, the arrangement was recorded by members of the Grammy-winning male vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

The arrangement began as part of a weeklong project assigned in a choral techniques class taught by Ian Loeppky, associate professor of music. The project was to arrange a popular melody into a choral piece for 16 bars of music, Loeppky said. He intended to challenge students to think on their feet to prepare them for a career in music education.

Mills said he chose to adapt the “Old Hundredth” melody because he was familiar with the song and said it was easy to work with for the assignment. While Mills considered the project to be an experiment, his professor was impressed with the results.

“Drew went the extra mile and made a full-fledged arrangement of the melody that was long enough for a church choir to sing on Sunday,” Loeppky said.

The professor studied Mills’ piece and thought it was worth submitting to a publisher.

“I took that as a compliment at first, but I also thought it was a joke,” Mills said. “Then I realized that Dr. Loepkky was serious about submitting it. He suggested I send it to St. James Music Press, so I did. I was still surprised when they called me back.”

The publishing company’s editor expressed interest in the piece and offered Mills some advice on how to develop it.

“There were little changes that had to be made in my arrangement, such as the key and certain transitions,” Mills said. “It was a great experience to collaborate with their editor and arranger on how to improve the piece even more.”

When all arrangers were pleased with the changes, the song was accepted and published to the company’s online-subscription database. With a yearly fee comes access to all music on the database with recorded demos of each piece.  

Dr. Loeppky said that among the singers who record for the company are members of the group Chanticleer, the only full-time choral ensemble in the United States.

“They are exceptional, and Drew’s piece sounds pristine as a result,” Loeppky said.

Mills said he is humbled to think that such great artists performed his arrangement. Mills also expressed how happy he was to have the experience of publishing a song at such a young age.

“It’s been a great experience and I’ve always wanted to do it, but I still have a lot to learn,” Mills said. “There are plenty of things about this process I don’t understand, but I would love to do it again.”