Monday, August 26, 2019

The A cappella Starter Package

Surprise! I’m back!

So…it’s been a little while…(2 years in fact…) since I’ve updated this blog. A lot has happened over that time, and my hope is that once you read this list of things I’ve been doing, you’ll stop being mad at me:

            -I finished my 509-page dissertation, “The A cappella Major” and earned my doctorate in music education.
            -I became the director of vocal music at Five Towns College, which changed my adjunct status to full-time associate professor.
            -I became the director of the FTC Chamber Singers, a traditional choir who recently performed at the Association for Popular Music Education’s National Convention.
            -I co-authored a reference book with Deke Sharon and Dr. J.D. Frizzell (release date: Spring 2020)
            -My wife and I bought a house—a process that was so long and painful that I now suffer from PTSD anytime I try to buy something from a store. 
            -My wife and I had a daughter. That alone should be enough to explain my 2-year absence.

So…yeah. The blog kinda fell off the radar. To be fair, I’m still convinced that only 4 people read this and that the 200+ hits I receive daily are just random bots from Russia (one of my videos was a victim of that—true story BTW).

ANYWAY, enough about me! Let’s talk about a cappella music!

This post is dedicated to the people who want to jump right in the deep end of a cappella but are afraid to swim past the kiddie pool. This post is all about the “A cappella Starter Package!”

Like Dungeons and Dragons (my character is a level 2 chaotic neutral Spanish Rogue), A cappella takes some getting used to. Yes, anyone who plays D&D says that anyone can “Jump right in! It’s just interactive storytelling!” And speaking as a noob, that’s true. Anyone can jump in and start learning. But there comes a moment when you’re ready to go full throttle and really learn the ins and outs of the game. And there’s A LOT of rules. Sooooooo many rules.

In other words, the suggestion that anyone can “jump right in” is…not exactly accurate. You can start, but if you want to be good, you need to know much more.

A cappella is the same way. Deke Sharon’s favorite proclamation is that we’ve been singing a cappella for centuries, and that it’s easier than ever to form a group. And he is absolutely correct. Anyone can form a group. Anyone can sing. 

But let’s think about the future for a moment. You’ve formed your group. Your group has a terrible name based on a music pun. You found a pdf of “Daft Punk” by Pentatonix online. But you want more. You really want to plant your feet firmly in the community.

All the resources are there. (They are…believe me) But they’re scattered in websites you’ve never heard of, books you’ve never read, and most importantly, passed down conversationally from person to person.

How do I get better? Is there ONE place that can tell me EXACTLY what I need to know to get started?

Yes. Yes, there is. Hi. I’m Marc and I’ve created the “A cappella Starter Package.”

Go here and add your name to the list:

This is the Facebook group for CASA, the Contemporary A cappella Society of America. More often than not, most breaking a cappella news, announcements, and releases show up on this group. This is your regularly updated newsfeed and your window to other avenues. 

AND this: A cappella

These are the most commonly referenced a cappella books. These will answer a majority of your questions and also help you get started arranging.

Now you need some arrangements.

Search “a cappella.”  

Every arrangement sold on these websites is 100% legal. By purchasing arrangements on these websites, you will never be treading the thin grey line of “is this arrangement legal or is this entrapment?”

The majority of a cappella groups commission arrangements or purchase stock arrangements directly from the arranger. But chances are, you probably don’t know the names of those arrangers.

Listen to the following albums:
“Bioluminescence” by ARORA
“Nothing But The Real Group” by The Real Group
“Take 6” by Take 6
“Rockapella Live” by Rockapella
“PTX Vol. 2” by Pentatonix
“Ticket To Ride” by The Swingle Singers
“Postyr Project” by Postyr Project
“Steps” by Cluster
“In This Together” by Accent
VOCALbularies” by Bobby McFerrin
“You’re The Voice” by Club For Five
“Collective” by Duwende
“Twenty for One” by Cadence
The latest volume of Best of College A cappella (BOCA)
The latest volume of Best of High School A cappella (BOHSA)
The latest volume of Voices Only

It’s a long list. I know. But this will give you a good idea of what’s possible with a cappella. Plus, every album is an A+ album. I guarantee it (guarantee not legally binding).

Don’t forget here:
Oh, right…here too:

These websites will help edu-ma-cate you in all things a cappella. Plus, they have details on all the happening a cappella festivals and competitions. Bookmark these websites.

Hopefully this is enough to get you started. Will it make you an a cappella expert overnight? No, but at least you’ll have the resources you need at your disposal. 

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It’s me! I have a Youtube channel! And since this is MY blog, I’ll post what I want. So there.

Marc Silverberg

Follow the Quest

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