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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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

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),...
06/12/2017 - 09:00

Q: As a preservice music educator, I often think about ways to incorporate contemporary a cappella into my future curricula. I know you've done work with ACDA on incorporating a cappella into the education standards. Can you elaborate more on what that could look like? Thanks!~ Steven
A: Hi Steven,

Jazz was created somewhere around 1900 yet it wasn’t until 1947 that the first degree program was established, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that you saw it really gain...
05/29/2017 - 09:00

Q: What is the best way of getting known as an arranger outside of your immediate area? Also separate question, what's the best way to arrange an effective intro? What are some strategies arrangers use that will catch the audience’s attention?~ William
A: Hi William.
Well, first the bad news for you (but the good news for a cappella in general): There are literally thousands if not tens of thousands of contemporary a cappella arrangers nowadays. This is a good thing...
05/15/2017 - 09:01

Q: Hi Deke!
How can groups / people / aca-lovers in countries like Australia and New Zealand help bring acapella more attention, and secondly, what does an acapella group need to do to survive over a sustained period of time?~ Alexander
A: Thanks, Alexander. It has been a labor of love, even when frustrating, as I’ve always known people would love a cappella if only they really knew. Ah, Down Under! Having been to New Zealand twice last year, and heading to Sydney this fall (I’ve been to...
05/01/2017 - 09:00

Q: My group is still pretty new. What tips do you have for us to get our name out there?
Thanks a lot,Tyler
A: Hi Tyler,

Welcome to the family! I say this because in many ways a cappella is like a giant family, and as such your first steps should involve your family. Visit any a cappella performance near you, get to know the local groups near you and perhaps put on a joint concert once you’re ready. Travel to festivals in the area, get to know local arrangers, coaches, directors...
04/17/2017 - 09:00

Q: What can make a good arrangement an outstanding arrangement?
A: Too often arrangers think of arrangements in terms of their involvement in it: how can I make the chords more interesting? How can I find a new style, a new voice, a new direction? These are all valid questions, but beside the point. An arrangement has a single fundamental task: to connect performers with their audience. As such, it is a road map, and just as every road map differs based on time of day, weather, road...