HomeAdvice Column: Ask Deke

Have a question? Need advice?

CASA founder and "father of contemporary a cappella" Deke Sharon is ready to answer your questions about all things a cappella!

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10/09/2017 - 09:00

Q: Do you have any suggestions on how a high schooler might get started in learning to arrange music for a capella?
 
A: For starters, I highly recommend studying music theory, as a knowledge of the technical aspects of counterpoint and 4 part writing are so very helpful.
Beyond that, this blog I wrote long ago remains a good first step, as it trains young writers to answer big questions before little ones.
That process is the first step in my book “A Cappella Arranging”, which even...
10/02/2017 - 09:00

Q: Is it possible to join a group that's already established? If so, how would I go about locating them in MN?
- Tracy
 
A: Hi Tracy
Indeed, it’s possible to join a group that’s already established. In fact, Pentatonix is looking for a bass right now, if you’re not averse to some serious hormone therapy…
But seriously, there are many options open to you:
The Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL) has many groups across the US, and more forming every month.
Sweet Adelines International...
09/25/2017 - 09:00
Q: Hi Deke! I was just at Camp A Cappella, and I had a blast! I can't wait to go back next year. I took advanced arranging as an aca major, and I learned a lot. I have a question, but just didn't get a chance to ask it: My group is relatively new (five years in existence, four years as a serious thing). Our VP just graduated this year, but we don't really have anyone to replace him. Is there anyway that I can incorporate VP into my arrangements using percussive syllables? Or is it better to...
09/18/2017 - 09:00
Q: Hi Deke!My small group from Camp A Cappella is looking to become an intact group called 'No Limits'. We love singing, working and performing together and we really don't want the music to stop even if camp ended. One of the obstacles of this however is that we live all around the US with no practical way to meet on anything near a regular basis. We were wondering if you might be able to give us some advice or guidence on what we can do overcome this obstacle, and what could be a good...
08/21/2017 - 09:00

Q: Old chorus… old members… old attitudes… old songs…

Resistant to improving or changing. We need help with trying to keep the chorus in pitch.
 
We have a younger director of 4 yrs who is an 11 year member. She sings in pitch when demonstrating as she teaches, but the group's default settings always take over, and the chorus is always flat.
 
How can I breathe new life and sound into our chorus?
~ Linda
 
A: “Change is hard. Nobody really wants to change.”

 ...
08/07/2017 - 09:00

Q: How can a brand-new just off the ground A cappella Chorus attract more younger members (10-20) and yet still be attractive to the seasoned singers?~ Kevin
 
A: This is a question that plagues many a choir, as they want new blood, yet don’t want to lose interest of their experienced members.

 
There is no perfect formula, but there are a few important considerations:
 
* Repertoire: We are all drawn to “the music of our lives” which for most people is the music...
07/24/2017 - 09:00

Q: My college group made a video that we're trying to get some attention for. Do you know anyone that's good at making aca YouTube videos go viral?~ Adam
 
A: What’s interesting about your question is not the answer (there is of course no one who is able to make a video go viral), but rather the perspective that such a thing is possible.
 
 
When I was in college, I was hungry for information. I studied music theory voraciously in hopes of learning formulas that would...
07/24/2017 - 09:00

Q: My college group made a video that we're trying to get some attention for. Do you know anyone that's good at making aca YouTube videos go viral?~ Adam
 
A: What’s interesting about your question is not the answer (there is of course no one who is able to make a video go viral), but rather the perspective that such a thing is possible.

 
When I was in college, I was hungry for information. I studied music theory voraciously in hopes of learning formulas that would help...
07/10/2017 - 09:00

Q: How do you handle handshake and verbal agreements that are broken or unfulfilled? For instance, suppose I was offered a gig and accepted it. Following that, there was much merriment and celebration. But then, when it came time for the gig, someone else publicly posted that they were doing the exact gig that was originally offered to (and accepted by) me.~ BrokenlHearted in Maryland
 
A: BHIM,

 
Well, the good news is that this rarely happens in a cappella. Good will is...
06/26/2017 - 09:00

Q: When is it appropriate in an arrangement to opt for echos/trios/duets/very fluid vocal lines, over more rhythmic parts like doos and dms. It's clear that winning collegiate groups are moving away from the latter and I was wondering if you had any comments on this currently popular arranging style.~ Nick
 
A: Before I answer your question, let’s do some math:

 
There are approximately 3,000 collegiate a cappella groups (this is an estimate, no one has a complete list),...