HomeKiely's beat wins outstanding percussionist title

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Imitating a beat-box without music isn't the easiest thing to do, but Northern Highlands Regional High School student Tom Kiely pulled it off, winning an award for his performance as he and the school's music group, Highlands Voices, entered new territory - contemporary a cappella.

Northern Highlands incoming senior and Highlands Voices percussionist Tom Kiely won the outstanding vocal percussion title in the International Championship of High School A Cappella for his ability to add beats and fills to contemporary a cappella music. Left, Kiely, fourth from left, performing with members of Highlands Voices.

Kiely was awarded the outstanding vocal percussion title in the International Championship of High School A Cappella, created by Varsity Vocals, an a cappella organization. Highlands Voices was also named Mid-Atlantic States A Cappella champions and came in third place in the International Finals.

"[As a percussionist] it's important to maintain a steady beat for the group," Kiely said. "It adds a new dimension for the song."

But it was also about adding beats and fills and knowing what would work, he said.

"I'd add in parts and see if it was good," Kiely said. "We needed to see what fit and what didn't."

But it was more than what Kiely wanted to add to the song.

"We needed to do what was best for all of us," he said.

Northern Highlands music teacher and Highlands Voices director Tom Paster was surprised Kiely won, "not because he wasn't good," he said, "but because a lot of other high schools had much more experience than we did."

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