When people hear the words “a cappella”, they usually think of the film “Pitch Perfect” or the band Pentatonix.
If this is your thing, you’re in luck: There is a six-member a cappella group at MSU called Maverick Vocal Precision that just performed at Acapocalypse, an a cappella competition at Port Washington High School in Wisconsin.
“What’s nice about going to these (competitions) is you’re performing for people who do the same kind of thing. It’s college and high school groups, so you see your peers from all over the region,” said one of the directors, Doug Snapp.
The other director, Stephanie Thorpe, said she thinks attending these competitions is a great way to meet and learn from new people.
She also said the audience gets involved with what the group is doing.
“We get to learn more and to see what other groups are doing and meet people and network within the a cappella community,” said Thorpe. “One of our students has a really low female voice, and as soon as she started singing, you could hear people in the crowd go, ‘yes.’”
The process for preparing for this competition started in October of last semester.
“We had to record something that they did in the fall. We had some really great songs that they did in the fall with good choreography and stuff like that,” said Thorpe. “We had them come in after one of our concerts and then we recorded like we used a class period to record their set a couple times, and then we sent it off.”
Snapp said there were some struggles about recording the audition video in the fall.
“The audition part is a little more challenging for us because the beginning of the year, what kind of group do we have? They haven’t necessarily developed their blend and feel for each other. It’s like what’s going on?” said Snapp. “This group really kind of melded together pretty well.”
The group does many different kinds of music, from pop to contemporary. Students have a say in what type of music they sing.
“We have student buy-in, so we play stuff for the students that we think our group can do, and they are welcome to submit songs too,” said Thorpe, “We decide on them all together. Dr. Snapp and I have the final say, of course.”
Snapp said students giving them song ideas is helpful.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s unique about these groups compared to some of our traditional ensembles, where, you know, the director, picks the music. We’ll all listen to them, and we kind of vote, rank, and so forth. Then we have to say, ‘Well, does this fit the group? How many parts does it have?’” said Snapp. “On the way back from competitions, the students always play their stuff. So we’re constantly like, ‘Oh, who’s that by? Oh, this will be a good song.’”
This group is open to all students at the university, not just choral students.
“We have a lot of great singers that aren’t majors, and a lot of non majors. There are students that come from all these high schools doing a cappella choir or just choir and show choir,” said Snapp.
Last year, they got the chance to go to Memphis, Tennessee for another festival.
“We went to the One Voice Acapella Festival last year. We had to be selected to go there, too. It really lit a fire under them. It was really cool,” said Thorpe. “So most of them had been to a festival when we went this year, so they kind of knew what to expect and they were really excited.”
The group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts building. For more information on joining the group, email Dr. Snapp or Dr. Thorpe.
Header Photo: Maverick Vocal Precision, pictured above, have flexed their singing muscles all across the country, from New York to Minnesota. (Photo Courtesy of Maverick Vocal Precision)
Write to Lauren Viska at email@example.com