Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Your Summer Aca-Fix

One pet peeve I have about a cappella music is that the volume of interest seems to wind down during the summer. Obviously, this is the time when colleges wrap up their semesters, graduation looms upon us, and group members disperse to their home town/state/country.
I notice a dip in aca-internet traffic as well, as if we were a sports-ball team and this is our off-season.
But we are not a sports-ball team. We have no off-season. Sure, the competitions may be over, but do we really only get together to compete? Are we not able to perform over the summer? And what about the aca-holics, who live off a cappella music like junkies? Are we supposed to sit in the corner of our bedroom, rocking back and forth, singing bass lines to no one?
I refuse to believe it. For those of you who don’t want the fun to end, here’s a few suggestions on how to get your aca-fix this summer:
1) Conventions
VoCALnation is held in Philadelphia this year. Camp A cappella is in Ohio. The Real Workshop is in Sweden. The Women’s A cappella Association is having their first festival in Oregon.
Just because college may be over does not mean the world is slowing down. Now is your chance to take the big leap of faith/money/travel and go somewhere you couldn’t go before because of your academic priorities.
2) Record an album
The summer is the PERFECT time to record an album. The process of recording the vocals (called “tracking”) is a time consuming process and is best done one person at a time. In fact, the entire group doesn’t even need to be there simultaneously. You only need a group representative and the album producer with you in the room. Then you can go part by part, person by person, day by day.
3) Tour
Did you know that the members of popular a cappella groups like Musae and Overboard don’t even live in the same area? They live in opposite ends of the country. They get together a few days before a concert, rehearse, perform, and go home.
What’s stopping YOU from doing that with your own group members? Plan a performance, pick a location to meet, plan a blitzkrieg rehearsal, sing, go home.
4) Catch up on your listening
Chances are, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of a cappella albums you haven’t yet listened to because you just didn’t have time. Well guess what…now you have time! Get cracking.
5) Loop yourself
Who says you need an a cappella group to have fun? Download a free loop app on your phone and go nuts. Write some original songs. Improvise. Make a fool out of yourself in the privacy of your own home.
6) Train for a riff-off!
Start building a repertoire of songs now and figure out how the chord progressions move. Challenge a friend to a game of Hot Spot. Form a small team and challenge another team to a riff-off. Or…you could just completely abandon the riff-off idea and start a massively large circle song.
7) Get a jump start on next year.
Only one group can win the ICHSA. Only one group can win the ICCA. Only one group can win the Harmony Sweepstakes. Only a handful of groups can appear on BOCA, BOHSA, SING, or Voices Only.
If you are not one of those groups, now's the time to start planning. Your next ICCA set should be arranged during the summer. Your album that you will submit to BOCA should be mixed during the summer. Your choreographer should start planning moves during the summer. The sooner you get a head start, the more time you will have to perfect your set.
As far as I’m concerned, the end of another school year is not an excuse to stop singing. If you need your aca-fix, go make it yourself.
Marc Silverberg
Follow The Quest For The A cappella Major:

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