Making an a cappella medley - for Christmas or any other time of the year
With the immense popularity of Pitch Perfect, preceded by Glee, and backed up by Gareth Malone’s TV programmes including the recent Naked Choir, there has never been a more conducive time for getting students to sing a cappella.
There are lots of great things about this idea. It will take some work to get a cappella sounding good, and along the way students will need to think about tuning, timing, communication and their own vocal range. The modern a cappella tradition is all about devising arrangements, so harmonies and textures will need to be considered and used in a creative way. The development of listening skills is fundamental to any foray into a cappella. It needs a minimum of resources. You can branch out into choreography and exciting techniques such as beatboxing and throat bass. In fact there’s almost nothing not to like.
It does, however, need to be tackled in a systematic way to anticipate some of the pitfalls and head them off at the first opportunity. To do a cappella well is difficult and requires perseverance.
This resource uses some Christmas songs as a starting point for a cappella. However, everything covered here could be used equally as effectively with other songs, and I will give non-Christmas starting-points too, for use at any time of the year. Your a cappella project could last a few lessons or anything up to a whole term. You could start with Christmas songs, and diversify in January – the aim is to be as flexible as possible. All the ideas here can be combined with the now legendary Musical Futures Find Your Voice project.