GUEST BLOG: "Why Contemporary A Cappella Matters" by J.D. Frizzell
Date: October 15, 2013
WHY CONTEMPORARY A CAPPELLA MATTERS by J.D. Frizzell
"Contemporary A Cappella." When you hear that phrase, what pops into your mind? Glee? The Sing-Off? Vocal Percussion? The King Singers?
Regardless of your current feelings towards contemporary a cappella, I’m here to suggest to you that it is here to stay, and that is a very good thing.
Six years ago, I started an a cappella group once a week after school. Our program had never done any popular music in the past. The injection of some “musical dessert” into the program was incredibly efficacious. Not only did our concert attendance drastically increase, so did our participation. The choral program has more than doubled in size in six years.
It should come as no surprise to any of us that letting kids sing popular music would be, well…popular! However, what you need to know is just how effective it is at building musicianship, too. Many of the arrangements that my 12-member group OneVoice does contain eight to ten individual parts. You do the math — this means each student is responsible for an incredible amount of independent singing . . . for three to five minutes at a time . . . a cappella . . . with intricate levels of articulation, dynamic, and style.
Listen to a brief a sample of what we do.
Now that they can do this, they bring a much stronger skill set into our traditional chamber choir (which they all have to be in concurrently, by the way). Mozart, Handel, Brahms, and Palestrina are all met with enthusiasm and zeal.
I am the president of a new nonprofit, the A Cappella Education Association. The AEA is committed to the creation, proliferation, and development of a cappella groups, programs, and curricula across America through pedagogical guidance, musical resources, networking opportunities, and collaborative support. If you would like to support our cause or if we can be of assistance to you and your program, please contact us at www.acappellaeducators.com
(Today's "Stick Time" column exlpores this choral form as a way for the conductor to both continue their professional artistic growth and to broaden their musical awareness.)