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My friend and I have been desparate to start an a cappella group with our friends, but we need major help. We have no clue how to do this sort of stuff.

Can anyone reccomend a good, relativly simple peice to start out with?

Any good hints, tips, or tricks for practicing?

Any answers or just stuff in general is greatly appreciated.


For arranging help and other stuff

Check out http://www.smartermusic.us, they have a lot of resources about arranging and group management. If you're looking for arrangements, there's tons of arranging services, but I'd be happy to do some free counseling and pointers through my service, MusicaRanger (http://musicaranger.us). Kick me an email!

Welcome A cappella Anime

Welcome A cappella Anime Girl!

CASAcademy provides several useful resources that can help you get started.  There's even a booklet called "Getting Started"!  There's some great instructions for holding auditions, learning to arrange for a cappella, vocal percussion, and several other useful things.  Check it out:


--Dave Brown

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun

you came to the right place :)

Start small and surround yourself with talented, friendly people that have similar goals to you and your friend.  You can make just about any song work for you - just find one that fits the range of your group and that you enjoy singing!  And come back here often - there are plenty of people here that are willing to offer advice and resources on everything a cappella A-Z.

Thank you so much!

Thank you for your advice! We are all just highschoolers, so we can't do much damage, but we'll do our best! Also, is there any stuff you reccomend we have, other than voices?

start simple!

Your group doesn't need all of the fancy sound equipment to get started.  Until you are really established as a group you should be able to use sound equipment provided by the places you are performing.  It also doesn't hurt to have some money saved up for the group before you start thinking about expensive gear!

One thing I would think about getting is arranging software - Finale, Sibilus and Encore are ones that are used frequently.  Members of your group who are stronger in music theory will have an easier time arranging new songs and it also makes it a little easier for anyone who is new to arranging to give it a try.  It also opens your group up to people who don't read music (or can't play an instrument to learn their parts), as the programs will scroll through the music and play the notes at the same time.  The programs will allow you to play the whole arrangement or isolate one part.  It really can be a great learning tool.  And if you don't have any in-house arrangers yet, many arrangers use these programs and can send you files that will be compatible with your program.

If one of your members plays piano well, having a piano or keyboard at your rehearsal space is useful for learning difficult parts.

And don't forget your pitch pipe :)

Baby Steps

First of all, welcome, and definitely listen to the very good advice above!

I started a college group with five other students four years ago.  It's important to not try to do everything yourself.  Delegate.  Don't be afraid to step on each other's toes, but respect each other as capable human beings as well.  If you feel overwhelmed, let your comrades know!

The basics are these: voices, music, a space to sing, and something that gives pitches.  A piano or keyboard is best, but you can get by with a pitch pipe, if you're creative.  If your school has a choir director or other music teacher, you might consider asking them for help.  Let them know that you want to do it yourself, if that's the case, but they could be an invaluable advisor and advocate.

Pick a rehearsal time BEFORE you hold your auditions.  You might lose a couple prospective singers, but people are hesitant to commit to something when they don't know how much time they're committing.  That's true in high school especially, when you have so many extra-curriculars.  Plus, finding a good time with a handful of people is WAY easier than trying to work around 8-18 people's crazy schedules.

If you have neither the money to buy nor the skill to arrange a song, there's nothing wrong with making it up by rote.  Sing along with the song at first, then take it away, let everyone find their notes that way.  That's obviously not the best way to do things, but it works if you're desperate.  Deke Sharon (who, if you haven't heard of him, is a fantastic performer and arranger with the House Jacks, and was once a member of the Tufts University Beelzebubs) has done a great many simple arrangements of oldies and pop tunes that you can purchase in volumes for not too much money online.  They're not too hard, they're a lot of fun, and my group still pulls them out from time to time when we need to learn a new song fast.  You can find female, male, and co-ed arrangements.

Running rehearsals is a lot scarier yet a lot easier than you might think.  Check out those sites above for some great tips, but here's what I say: Have a plan.  Follow the plan.  If you get frustrated, move on to something else and come back.  Never specifically call someone out, but speak to the section instead, even if you know who it is.  Finally, don't be a perfectionist.  The more a director (or any other leader) tries to show how much they care by obsessing, taking all the responsibility, and trying to force things to be perfect, the less the group is going to care.

My last bit of advice is have fun!  If you're not having fun, something is very wrong.  Don't expect to be uber-successful overnight.  It's gonna take work, blood, sweat, and tears.  However...it's totally worth it.  Just take baby steps.

Thank you.

That was one intense comment! But greatly appreciated. And the having fun, that's the entire reason we're doing this. Both my friend and I are in choir, but everyone else interested (but not yet commited) has little or no choral or singing experience besides the shower. The rehearsal time tip will also be greatly appreciated, because with all of us on ultimate frisbee, ballet, marching band or cross country running, at least, scheduling practices would be torture. Thank you very much!

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