It’s that time of year…The birds are singing in the trees (a cappella of course), USA Network has original programming that people actually want to watch (Psych dedicated two episodes to a cappella ensembles…in case you wanted to know), and college semesters are winding down. For many groups, this means the end of another a cappella year.
But what if it didn’t? What if you’re a cappella bliss could go on, well into the summer? What if the group you spent so much time with, forged so many friendships, didn’t have to part ways for 2-3 months?
In my unending quest to eliminate the need to visit a public pool…I mean develop an a cappella major…here are some suggestions to keep the a cappella bliss going a little bit longer:
1) Virtual Choir
If you are involved with any type of choral ensemble, the name Eric Whitacre probably rings a bell. He’s the choral composer that every new composer wants to emulate; he writes the compositions that every trendy choir wants to perform; and he’s the guy breaking all sorts of barriers in traditional choral music.
In 2010, Eric Whitacre embarked on a unique idea that has spawned copycats around the globe: Virtual Choirs. Singers from around the world submit their audition videos via Youtube, and a large number of selected participants are invited to sing one of Whitacre’s compositions live using computer cameras and video feeds. If everyone in your a cappella group was able to sync to a metronome using a midi track, then you’re a cappella group could post a video on youtube without ever leaving the comfort of their couches and pajamas. It would be an interesting project…difficult, but do-able. Click the link to learn more:
Okay. I’m probably asking for a miracle, but think for a moment…Wouldn’t everyone in your group love to sing again, just one more time? (If not, see my previous article about lobsters) Put your nose to the grindstone, and plan a tour during the summer.
Is this going to be difficult to plan? Yep.
Is this going to be extremely difficult to plan? Absolutely.
Are members of your group going to whine about how they have to leave their comfy homes and X-boxes? Oh yeah.
Deal with it. We need more a cappella music during the summer. Summer is the best time to tour, because all the festivals, gatherings, parades, and miscellaneous performance opportunities happen over the summer, and they are dying to get a group like yours to sing.
3) Join/Form another a cappella group
No, it’s not cheating. If your group’s season is over and you are itching for another a cappella fix, go find a local group, or better yet, form one. It may seem daunting, because forming a group means a new slew of logistical problems, but what if you and your friends just wanted to enjoy singing? Get some buddies together, improvise a bunch of circle songs, read through a few Deke Sharon charts, and then play a healthy game of Apples to Apples. Done. A great night of music and fun, without the stress of managing and building a group.
4) Go to a reading session
Do you know what a reading session is? It’s the most fun thing a choral dork can do. You basically travel to a local college, you are handed a stack of choral music, and you just sit there and read. No practicing, no stopping, no drama. It’s a great way to improve your reading skills, discover new music, be inspired by new ideas, and have a stress free hour or two of singing for less than fifty bucks (usually). Just Google “reading session” and your hometown. You’ll find one. Trust me. If not, start one.
I think the best thing about contemporary a cappella recording techniques is the fact that a high-quality album can be made, without the group ever being in the same room at one time. If one person from your group recorded his or her part separately, once or twice a week, you would have a BOCA ready submission in 2-3 months without ever interfering with your practice time (of course…don’t quote me on the BOCA thing…but at least you would have something to send.)
6) Don’t break up
Wait…why is your group not singing over the summer? Has anyone actually explored this, or did you all just assume that the semester is over once the concert is finished? Is almost everyone from a local part of the area? Can anyone suggest a new meeting place? Maybe your group should open up a dialogue before assuming that the semester has to end.
Box videos are the new trend. They consist of one person, singing every part. Pick a song in a comfortable key, arrange it so that every part is sing-able, and hit the record button on your computer. Ta-da! A one man a cappella group. If it’s a good arrangement, you can even post it on the internet and probably get a fair amount of views (thought be careful with legal issues…don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
I hope this will keep your a cappella addiction fed for a little while longer. What can I say…I’m a pusher.
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