HomeBlogsbspaldin's blogBook Review: Brody McDonald's A Cappella Pop

Still waiting for the right resources to get your a cappella group started?  Well, you need not look further than this book.  Brody McDonald has built an amazing high school a cappella program and following, and he imparts all the wisdom and experience he has gained in this book.  I can also speak personally that my a cappella groups and my a cappella experience wouldn’t be the same without the resources and knowledge that I’ve picked up along the way from Brody McDonald. 

Brody McDonald is the head choral director at Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio.  For those of you that don’t know, his group Eleventh Hour was on Season 2 of “The Sing-Off”.  The Kettering A Cappella Festival that he puts on each year in November now gathers around 30 high school groups from across the country. Those are a couple of reasons that you could call him an expert in the field of a cappella. What may be even more impressive is that Brody was never in a contemporary a cappella group in high school or college.  Most of his advice comes from the knowledge he gained from his own trial and error and experimentation.  In this book, Brody is trying to save you from having to do all of the trial and error that he had to do.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Brody McDonald and seeing him in action many times, and this book puts all of that wisdom onto the written page.  It’s an excellent resource for both high school and college groups.  Not only does it impart wisdom from Brody McDonald, but he also has chapters in the book written by some of the most well-known names in the a cappella world.  There are chapters by Jake Moulton, Trist Curless, Nate Altamari, John Gentry, Christopher Given Harrison, Alex Phan, and Freddie Feldman.  And, not to mention, the forward of the book is written by Deke Sharon! 

So for those of you saying that you don’t know the first thing about contemporary a cappella….don’t fret!  Take the plunge.  Start by getting this book, which is jam-packed with information, and I think it addresses every concern that I have heard from directors that they have had about starting a contemporary a cappella group.  There are a lot of directors that don’t know how to do vocal percussion or to beatbox.  Well, in this book Jake Moulton has written an entire chapter about just that.  There are also many directors that don’t know much about live sound, but there is a chapter that covers all that you need to know about live sound.  What about arrangements?  Yes, this topic is covered in the book as well. 

One of the things I like best about the book is that it is very well organized.  It’s a great and enjoyable book to read from start to finish, but it’s also a great book to pick up when you are looking for information on one specific topic.  I’ve been doing contemporary a cappella for about 15 years now, and I still find myself picking up the book and referring to a particular chapter for information.  The way it is organized makes it very easy to seek out specific information in this book.

I would definitely give this book two thumbs up and call it a must have for anyone that is interested in contemporary a cappella.  From the beginner to the experienced teacher and college student, I’m positive that there’s more than one thing that you can learn from this book.  Take advantage of all the wisdom that someone who is at the forefront of the contemporary a cappella movement is willing to share. So if you haven’t already, run out and buy this book now!  You won’t regret it! 

Links to hear the sound samples that correspond to Jake Moulton's Vocal Percussion chapter: http://www.alfred.com/acappellapop

Link to purchase the book: http://www.alfred.com/Products/lp--00-38006.aspx

About the writer:
Ben Spalding is the head Choral Director at Centerville High School in Dayton, Ohio. At Centerville, Ben directs all of the choirs and the a cappella group Forte. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Kentucky. Ben’s a cappella roots go back to college, when he was a member of the University of Kentucky AcoUstiKats and a semi-professional group called 5 by Tuesday.  His love for music goes as far back as elementary school and music has and always will be a major driving force in his life.