By John DeFerraro
Over the course of this issue of Choral Director, we have laid the foundation for how you can approach the contemporary a cappella world, from specific rehearsal tips, to arranging advice, and exemplary recordings that are inspirational! However, the next step you should take is to connect yourself to the a cappella community. A major part of what makes this genre unique is the highly collaborative collection of educators and music directors across America who will go out of their way to help you succeed.
Finally, ask questions! Don’t be shy — we are all on different parts of the path, but nothing brings us more joy than helping others. Almost all the teachers in the aca-sphere have built their groups from the ground up, and can share some tips that will help you successfully navigate through the early years.
Below, you will find several resources for networking and further learning. I encourage you to form a group and head to one of the following events, and read through some of the listed texts. This is by no means a comprehensive list; so please visit some of the professional organizations to learn more!
The A Cappella Education Association – AEA
The AEA was founded by teachers to help create and develop a cappella groups, rubrics, and curricula based on best practices. Dedicated to collaborative support, pedagogical guidance, and creating networking opportunities across the United States.
The Contemporary A Cappella Society – CASA
CASA was formed to create a community between singers and fans of contemporary a cappella. CASA produces the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and the Best of Collegiate and High School A Cappella compilation albums.
Women’s A Cappella Association – WACA
WACA celebrates what women are achieving in a cappella, and empowers women to push the boundaries of innovation. Produces an annual album that celebrates women in a cappella.
Contemporary A Cappella League – CAL
Dedicated to creating opportunities for adult a cappella groups (post-high school and collegiate). Wonderful resource for learning how to be a performer as an adult.
Intensive Professional Development Opportunities
The National A Cappella Convention – Late April
Over the course of two days, the AEA offers this event which features over forty different interest sessions, the National High School Championship, and showcases for middle school, high school, and collegiate groups. This official AEA event is the fastest growing professional development and networking opportunity.
Camp A Cappella – Late June
Fully immersive, week-long summer camp that allows educators to be participants in an a cappella group, and learn techniques from Deke Sharon and other innovative a cappella educators, professional performers, and audio specialists.
Next Level Workshops by The Vocal Company – Four sessions offered in the summer
Four different sessions are offered on topics, such as arranging, directing, production, and mixing. Each session lasts one week, and serves as a wonderful hands-on learning opportunity for any level of experience.
Kettering National High School A Cappella Festival – Mid-November
Currently the nation’s largest a cappella festival, with over 65-75 attending groups. Features headliners from across the country, along with performance opportunities and several interest sessions.
Informational Books About A Cappella
A Cappella Arranging – Dylan Bell and Deke Sharon
Music Pro Guides, 2012
A Cappella Pop – Brody McDonald
Alfred Music Publishing, 2012
A Cappella – Ben Spalding, Deke Sharon, and Brody McDonald
Alfred Music Publishing, 2015
The Heart of Vocal Harmony: Emotional Expression in Group Singing – Deke Sharon
Music Pro Guides, 2016
A Cappella Warm-Ups for Pop & Jazz Choirs – Deke Sharon and J.D. Frizzell
Hal Leonard Publishing, Coming in 2017
John DeFerraro is the Director of Choral Activities at Conner High School in Kentucky, and founder of RE:MIX a cappella. Under his direction, choirs consistently earn State Distinguished Ratings with Sweepstakes honors, and collaborate with internationally recognized artists, such as the African Children’s Choir and Point of Grace. He is an alumnus of the University of Kentucky acoUstiKats, featured on NBC’s The Sing-Off, and currently serves the A Cappella Education Association as the National Treasurer, board member, and producer for multiple events.