Category A cappella

A cappella in a show choir show? What?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to meet Jeremy Alfera. Jeremy has a great reputation in the state of Ohio, particularly for winning show choir competitions. Over time, I began to follow his success. I watched his show choir shows on YouTube, and then began to branch out into the videos of his AA-level Symphonic Choir. Yep – Jeremy Alfera does it all, folks. And very well.

Then I noticed that he had some students who were copying Pentatonix. They called themselves “Logarhythms” and were a joy to watch.

So… I reached out to Jeremy, asking if he’d like to bring Logarhythms to our a cappella festival. Little did I know that he also had a 40-person a cappella CHOIR!

One thing led to another, and I discovered that Logarhythms was going to do a section in his competition show choir show...

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What’s all the buzz about high school a cappella?

High school a cappella is all the rage right now. It has enormous buzz. Why is that? Why is there such an explosion of a cappella in high schools? And, after we explore that phenomenon, what do we do with all the recent hub-bub centered around this question: “How is it that many high school groups manage to outperform college groups?”

Let’s take a look first at why a cappella is blowing up in high schools. Then we’ll get to the core differences between HS and Collegiate a cappella.

A CAPPELLA IS EXPLODING IN THE HIGH SCHOOL RANKS BECAUSE:

The kids love…

-music that is familiar: students have always asked “can we sing insert song from radio here?” That song might not be appropriate for a freshman mixed choir, but it certainly will work for an a cappella group.

-the social aspect of sing...

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You can feel however you want, but you can’t do whatever you want.

Ultimately my accompanist, Bryon Dobbs, deserves all the credit for this one. He said something in class once that had a great impact on me. He said “You can feel however you want, but you can’t do whatever you want.”

Now, many of you reading this are all grown-up. You’ve already figured this out. You go to work even if your head is splitting or you’re low on sleep. You clean the house when you’d rather flop on the couch. I’m not talking to you personally (other than as a gentle reminder).

No, I’m not talking to you personally. I am, however, talking to you as a musician – one who inevitably is going to be (a) working with some young’uns OR (b) find yourself in a rehearsal funk in your own group. I’m also talking the choristers/your students/etc...

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Go to school on someone else’s dime

One of the most valuable things I ever learned from RD Mathey at BGSU was how to go to school on someone else’s dime. By this I mean I learned how to watch, listen, and think analytically every second of rehearsal. Let’s take a look at how getting into this mindset can help singers. If you are in a traditional choral setting, think director and choir. If you are in a self-run a cappella group, it still applies. Even if you don’t have a formal “director,” someone has to be steering the ship, right?

Some common ways “going to school on someone else’s dime” helps:

1) But I’m doing it – Most singers think they are doing what the director wants them to. They mean well, so they think their intention translates into action...

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Gearing up – one group’s experience with pedals

Eleventh Hour is no stranger to using pedals in their set. Well, to be fair, they are no strangers to using A PEDAL in their set. EH has been using a bass octave pedal for maybe six years now, ever since we worked with The Fault Line the first time. We’ve always known about pedals. We’ve hosted SONOS at least three times and always drooled on their pedals like fools. Still, we hadn’t ever broken out of our comfort zone. Until now.

As we have gone through this season, there were two forces that combined to make a perfect storm of interest to finally force us into using some new pedals. (1) Our vocal percusssionist is also a budding looper / tech geek and (2) we have a female singer who can flat out rock. I don’t mean she rocks like “she sings well.” We’ve had those kind before...

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Joint rehearsals – a great way to sharpen your group

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. Honestly, it never entered my mind. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you either that having a rehearsal combined with another local group can be amazingly beneficial. Recently, Eleventh Hour has been doing joint rehearsals regularly and we love them. They actually started by accident…

There is group just up the road from us in Dayton named V ega, from Chaminade Julienne High School. Their director, Joe Whatley, student taught with me and still calls me for advice from time to time. He wanted me to clinic his group, but my schedule was really tight. I told him that if he brought Vega to my school, I’d work with them on the night that Eleventh Hour typically rehearses without me.

Vega had really improved since I worked with them the previo...

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