Episode 89: Writing Music People LIKE to Sing with Alan Bullard


For this Oxford Press conversation, I was able to speak to composer Alan Bullard about his life, career and approach to choral music. We talked about what it was like to study with Herbert Howells, the need for music for flexible voicings, the contrasting economy of sheet music sales in the US and UK, as well as his approach to “compositional imposter syndrome.” I especially enjoyed his advice to younger composers. It’s ok to promote yourselves! It’s not bragging! It’s how the business works. So, sit back, relax and get to know Alan Bullard.

Alan Bullard
Episode 89

Alan Bullard was born in 1947, grew up in London, and studied with Herbert Howells and Antony Hopkins at the Royal College of Music, and with Arnold Whittall at Nottingham University.He has been writing music all his life, and frequently undertakes commissions for choral societies, church choirs, orchestral societies and many other ensembles. His choral music, both sacred and secular, has been performed in a wide range of venues in the UK, the USA, and elsewhere.

Many of his choral works are published by Oxford University Press, and he is the editor of, and contributor to, The Oxford Book of Flexible Anthems, The Oxford Book of Flexible Carols, the Oxford Book of Easy Flexible Anthems, and the Oxford Book of Flexible Choral Songs. His works are recorded on CD by such ensembles as Selwyn College Choir, Kings College Choir, The Sixteen, and are regularly broadcast in the UK and the US.As well as music for a wide range of ensembles and soloists, he has also written much educational music, including the Joining the Dots sight-reading series, the Scale Explorer series (both ABRSM) and, jointly with his wife Janet, the Pianoworks series (OUP).He holds an ARCM from the Royal College of Music, a BMus from London University, an MA from Nottingham University and a DU (Honorary Doctorate) from Essex University, and he lives in East Anglia.

More Oxford Conversations

Episode 88: Music is Inherently Raceless with Theron Jenkins

Episode 88: Theron Jenkins

When discussing how music and education intersects with race, gender and culture, I find that we are often pretty quick to apply reductionist labels to the idea or concept. For example, phrases I have come across too often include “That’s a boy’s song,” or “Choral Music is an inherently white art form,” or “sight reading is a European value in Music Education.”

If we label these things based on their past origins, are we sending unintentional signals to students about who is welcome NOW?

Now, it’s possible I spend too much time reading through comment threads in Facebook groups, but it raises the issue of the unintended consequences for students and educators when they see or hear such blatant essentialism, though often well intended. In the latest addition to my Choral Music: A Human Art Form thread, Theron Jenkins and I discuss this issue in hopes of bringing some alternative discourses to light for the purpose of making choral music more accessible and inviting to people from every background. After all, Choral Music does not inherently have a race, nor is group singing European. Music is INHERENTLY human. From all to all.

  • Literacy has value that transcends culture, and does not replace culture
  • Removing standards for honor choirs doesn’t help students
  • A well rounded music education can’t achieve all things for all people. Teachers must pick and choose with finite resources.
  • Representation matters!
Episode 88 audio

Teacher Burnout Town Hall- Live Stream


Teacher morale has reached a crisis point. If you’ve ever felt the crisis or seen the crisis, this episode is for you. In this Livestream episode I got input from some of my Patreon supporters, as well as people listening on Facebook which was fun, and kept the conversation spinning to topics of teacher pay, our attitudes toward our job, the role of having a “good boss” who treats the teacher as the expert and many other “usual suspects” that lead to burnout. In addition, I suggested that we look at two causes that almost no one mentions: Anxiety Contagion and Moral Injury.

Special thanks to Nathan Connell, Jeff Wall, John Sargent and Christopher Boemler for chiming in their ideas via Patreon.

Live Stream!

Articles Referenced

Most recent post on burnout.