Episode 134: The A Cappella Connection with Deke Sharon

When you perform, it’s your job to go out there and save a life.

Deke Sharon

This week, I welcome the “Father of Contemporary A Cappella,” Deke Sharon onto the show. We discuss the origins of the modern “A Cappella” genre as well as the “family tree” of other types of A Cappella vocal music genres and their crucial connections with each other. We also get to hear the story of how the actors in Pitch Perfect learned to sing from scratch in a month! We covered the importance of commercial viability in our art forms as well as the incredible power of group music making to heal political divides, and encourage cooperation. Deke is a compelling story teller, so I KNOW you will want to listen to the end!

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Born and still living in San Francisco, California, Deke Sharon has been performing professionally since the age of 8. As a child he toured North America and shared the stage performing in operas with the likes of Pavarotti. Heralded as “The Father of Contemporary A Cappella” this performer, arranger, music producer, author, producer and coach is credited by many as being responsible for the current sound of modern a cappella. While at college, he pioneered the dense vocal-instrumental sound that we today take for granted as the sound of contemporary a cappella.

Deke founded the Contemporary A Cappella Society while in college, and is responsible for creating many seminal a cappella programs, including the CARAs (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards), the ICCAs (International Championship of College A Cappella), the BOCAs (Best of College A Cappella Compilations), the first contemporary a cappella conference (the A Cappella Summit), the Contemporary A Cappella League, several professional ensembles including DCappella, as well as the educational residential program Camp A Cappella. He’s a frequent emcee at events, and gives corporate speeches on business lessons from vocal harmony to companies like Google and Facebook.

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He is also contemporary a cappella’s most prolific arranger, having arranged over 2,000 songs, with over a thousand of them in print worldwide. He has written 6 books: “A Cappella Arranging” (2012), “A Cappella” (2015), “The Heart of Vocal Harmony” (2016), “A Cappella Warmups for Pop and Jazz Choir” (2017), “So You Want To Sing A Cappella” (2017) and “Teaching Music Through Performance In Contemporary A Cappella” (2020).

As the founder, director and arranger for the House Jacks for almost 25 years, the original “Rock Band Without Instruments,” Deke shared the stage around the world with countless music legends, including Ray Charles, James Brown, Crosby Stills and Nash, Run DMC, The Temptations, LL Cool J and the Four Tops, and even a performance of the “Monday Night Football Theme” with Hank Williams Jr. in 2011. He is also the vocal orchestrator for and a producer of the Broadway’s first a cappella musical: In Transit (2016), as well as the opening number of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Unmasked (2019).

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Deke has produced dozens of award winning a cappella albums (including Straight No Chaser, Committed, Nota, Street Corner Symphony and the Tufts Beelzebubs), created a cappella groups for Disneyland and Disneyworld, and frequently tours the world teaching a variety of topics to students and professional singers. His voice can be heard in commercials and video games, including “Just Dance Kids 2.” He is one of only 20 honorary members of the Barbershop Harmony Society since 1938, as well as an honorary member of BYU Vocal Point, and has received CASA’s lifetime achievement award in 2016 and the PT Barnum Award for Excellence from Tufts University in 2017.

Deke has also helped popularize a cappella in the mainstream. He vocally produced five seasons of The Sing Off for NBC in the US as well as international versions in the Netherlands, South Africa and China, and served as music director for Disney+ Best in Snow. He was arranger, on-site music director and vocal producer for all three of Universal’s hit films in the Pitch Perfect franchise. He was featured on camera in Lifetime Television’s Pitch Slapped, coaching the group Stay Tuned and on BBC1’s Pitch Battle as music director and guest judge. 2022 saw him working on two television shows: “Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin” (Peacock) and “Best in Snow” (Disney+).

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Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.

Car Thoughts: Student Led Sectionals

“Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning.”

Jen York-Barr

In this special car thoughts I will not only DESCRIBE how I use sectionals in rehearsal, I will show you! (Video recommended) I am a big believer in student ownership, and there are few better ways to accomplish this than building a culture of student led sectional work at all levels of choir. EVEN young singers can learn to work independently! Join me as a drive while describing the progression from a beginner’s first introduction to sectionals all the way to the point where they don’t need me anymore.

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Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com
www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!

Episode 133: Should We Pay Student Teachers? With Dr. Tina Beveridge

Is student teaching a “class?” or a “job?” Does this practice need a revamp in the face of the current teacher shortage? In this episode, I invited Tina Beveridge on to hash out a disagreement. A few months ago, I created a TikTok expressing my opinion that student teachers don’t “deserve” a paycheck. Mostly based on the idea that student teaching is a class, and a crucial final course in the training of teachers. Turning it into a job could potentially create a perverse incentive structure for entering the profession. Dr. Beveridge disagrees and responded with this blog by saying, “First, the internship is not a “class.” Yes, it’s credits they have to register and pay for, and in that respect it’s a “class” but it’s not a class in the respect that we expect them to go in knowing nothing. In fact, we expect them to go in and actually be able to do the full job.”

In keeping with the spirit and ethos of this show, I invited Tina on to discuss because a conversation is MUCH more productive than social media posts. The resulting conversation is proof of that. When the episode is done, please weigh in your thoughts in the comments!

@chrismunce

Replying to @gabeknott3 It’s a class. Not a job. Should you be paid to go to other classes?

♬ original sound – Chris Munce
Catch up on the conversation on TikTok
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Dr. Beveridge is an Assistant Professor of Music Education at George Mason University. Before entering higher education, Dr. Beveridge spent 17 years teaching music in K-12 public schools and community colleges, and her research on policy, equity and access in music education has been published in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education as well as Arts Education Policy Review.

Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com
www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!
Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

Resources Cited in the Episode

Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!
  • Michigan Future Teacher Fund —you will also see they have proposed legislation to pay mentor teachers (through block grants to districts) to host student teachers, and that there are requirements for how interns can use the money (1 semester tuition at a state university in Michigan is about $7000, the stipend can be up to $9600).
  • Choralosophy Episode with Maria Ellis
  • The Elpus and Abril 2019 study —this is free to view for anyone who is a NAfME member (you have to log in to NAfME and then click on the link, the full article should pop up. The statistic I referenced (African American students being less likely to enroll in music as achievement goes up) is “Predictive Margins of Race” just above the discussion section.
  • Dr. Beveridge wants to issue a correction: In Virginia, student teachers need 300 TOTAL hours. 150 need to be independent teaching.

Episode 132: Learned Helplessness with Christine Sefein

Is it possible that the over-politicization of classroom education could be contributing in some way to the epidemic of mental health problems amongst teens and young adults? Clinical Psychologist, and child of Egyptian immigrants, Christine Sefein thinks we should not ignore this possibility. The modern vogue for activism that kids are learning focuses on the “systemic,” and actually valorizes victimhood. We are framing things for them within a problematic oppressor vs. oppressed framework. To a young person, when confronted with ideas that present a “really big, really bad” world, these problems can seem so big that they are powerless to confront them. This perpetual victim/hero complex could be leading to nihilism and hopelessness in a generation of students. Christine and I share a candid conversation about the basic principals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that are being ignored or even contradicted in education. We discuss building gratitude cultures, the value of anxiety, and understanding the importance of “exposure therapy” when facing even the horror of performance anxiety!

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Christine Sefein, LMFT(Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), specialises in grief and trauma work and has held positions such as Clinical Director of OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center and Clinical Supervisor of the Interpersonal Violence programs at California Lutheran University. She has worked most extensively with grieving adults and children in a variety of communities and settings including dual-diagnoses residential facilities, intensive outpatient treatment, homeless shelters and in private practice. Christine was a full time Teaching Faculty in the Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program at Antioch University Los Angeles until 2021. She currently works as a diversity training consultant, public speaker, parental rights advocate in K-12 education.

Contact info: csefein@christinesefeinmft.com

www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com
Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!
Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
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