HomeAdvice Column: Ask Deke

Have a question? Need advice?

CASA founder and "father of contemporary a cappella" Deke Sharon is ready to answer your questions about all things a cappella!

Submit your question for Deke to tackle.

Make sure you don't miss out on all the great advice by signing up for the Contemporary A Cappella newsletter.

08/21/2017 - 09:00

Q: Old chorus… old members… old attitudes… old songs…

Resistant to improving or changing. We need help with trying to keep the chorus in pitch.
 
We have a younger director of 4 yrs who is an 11 year member. She sings in pitch when demonstrating as she teaches, but the group's default settings always take over, and the chorus is always flat.
 
How can I breathe new life and sound into our chorus?
~ Linda
 
A: “Change is hard. Nobody really wants to change.”

 ...
08/07/2017 - 09:00

Q: How can a brand-new just off the ground A cappella Chorus attract more younger members (10-20) and yet still be attractive to the seasoned singers?~ Kevin
 
A: This is a question that plagues many a choir, as they want new blood, yet don’t want to lose interest of their experienced members.

 
There is no perfect formula, but there are a few important considerations:
 
* Repertoire: We are all drawn to “the music of our lives” which for most people is the music...
07/24/2017 - 09:00

Q: My college group made a video that we're trying to get some attention for. Do you know anyone that's good at making aca YouTube videos go viral?~ Adam
 
A: What’s interesting about your question is not the answer (there is of course no one who is able to make a video go viral), but rather the perspective that such a thing is possible.
 
 
When I was in college, I was hungry for information. I studied music theory voraciously in hopes of learning formulas that would...
07/24/2017 - 09:00

Q: My college group made a video that we're trying to get some attention for. Do you know anyone that's good at making aca YouTube videos go viral?~ Adam
 
A: What’s interesting about your question is not the answer (there is of course no one who is able to make a video go viral), but rather the perspective that such a thing is possible.

 
When I was in college, I was hungry for information. I studied music theory voraciously in hopes of learning formulas that would help...
07/10/2017 - 09:00

Q: How do you handle handshake and verbal agreements that are broken or unfulfilled? For instance, suppose I was offered a gig and accepted it. Following that, there was much merriment and celebration. But then, when it came time for the gig, someone else publicly posted that they were doing the exact gig that was originally offered to (and accepted by) me.~ BrokenlHearted in Maryland
 
A: BHIM,

 
Well, the good news is that this rarely happens in a cappella. Good will is...
06/26/2017 - 09:00

Q: When is it appropriate in an arrangement to opt for echos/trios/duets/very fluid vocal lines, over more rhythmic parts like doos and dms. It's clear that winning collegiate groups are moving away from the latter and I was wondering if you had any comments on this currently popular arranging style.~ Nick
 
A: Before I answer your question, let’s do some math:

 
There are approximately 3,000 collegiate a cappella groups (this is an estimate, no one has a complete list),...
06/12/2017 - 09:00

Q: As a preservice music educator, I often think about ways to incorporate contemporary a cappella into my future curricula. I know you've done work with ACDA on incorporating a cappella into the education standards. Can you elaborate more on what that could look like? Thanks!~ Steven
 
A: Hi Steven,

 
Jazz was created somewhere around 1900 yet it wasn’t until 1947 that the first degree program was established, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that you saw it really gain...
05/29/2017 - 09:00

Q: What is the best way of getting known as an arranger outside of your immediate area? Also separate question, what's the best way to arrange an effective intro? What are some strategies arrangers use that will catch the audience’s attention?~ William
 
A: Hi William.
 
 
Well, first the bad news for you (but the good news for a cappella in general): There are literally thousands if not tens of thousands of contemporary a cappella arrangers nowadays. This is a good thing...
05/15/2017 - 09:01

Q: Hi Deke!
How can groups / people / aca-lovers in countries like Australia and New Zealand help bring acapella more attention, and secondly, what does an acapella group need to do to survive over a sustained period of time?~ Alexander
A: Thanks, Alexander. It has been a labor of love, even when frustrating, as I’ve always known people would love a cappella if only they really knew. Ah, Down Under! Having been to New Zealand twice last year, and heading to Sydney this fall (I’ve been to...
05/01/2017 - 09:00

Q: My group is still pretty new. What tips do you have for us to get our name out there?
Thanks a lot,Tyler
 
A: Hi Tyler,

Welcome to the family! I say this because in many ways a cappella is like a giant family, and as such your first steps should involve your family. Visit any a cappella performance near you, get to know the local groups near you and perhaps put on a joint concert once you’re ready. Travel to festivals in the area, get to know local arrangers, coaches, directors...