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Artikel Tagged ‘Nick Girard’

Pitch Perfect Unpicked – Deke Sharon & Nick Girard talk, teach and make noises at LACF2014

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog – posted live from London A Cappella Festival 2014

Florian Steve Jobs live Städtler (Foto Ellen Schmauss)This is basically what I overheard in a London A Cappella Festival workshop by two a cappella big shots of the US vocal music scene: Deke Sharon, “the man who invented a cappella in 1991″, TV producer and overall a cappella mastermind and Nick Girard (singer and vocal percussionist with The Housejacks and Overboard) got up on King’s Place Hall Two and started talking. The workshop started according to its title with Deke rushing through the US vocal music history from Barbershop and Ivy League traditional collegiate a cappella to the successful a cappella movie Pitch Perfect. Then surprisingly (maybe a bit disappointingly for those who were keen on learning more that a few, quick anecdotes…and probably didn’t read the festival programme like me), this turned into beginners’ vocal percussionist and instrument imitation workshop.

So while two-hundred collegiate, semi-pro a cappella and choir singers “boomed” and “chicked” and “tsssd”,  fiddled, blew and picked imaginary instruments, I took out my laptop and tried to catch a few of aca-celebrity quotes, tips and tricks from how to make an a cappella movie and not spit at your friends while you lip buzz.

“You know the myth: In the US, a cappella is big and we’re all rich. – Well, that’s the myth.” (Deke Sharon)


Deke Sharon doing the trumpet, trombone, muted trumpet, violin et al

“Old England is great too, I’m talking about the US New England here.” (Deke Sharon)

“A cappella started out as Ivy League thing, but during the last years, it has exploded.” (Deke Sharon)

“We want to make an a cappella movie….!” “That’s a terrible idea.” (Deke Sharon)

“There was no vomiting involved in the non-fiction book.” (Deke Sharon)

“The movie ended up being made. But it wasn’t necessarily easy.” (Deke Sharon)

“The bottom line is: This will be a comedy, so we will have to make fun of our community. But on the other hand, the music had to be good.” (Deke Sharon)

“This was a movie that was on a very, very tight budget.” (Deke Sharon)

“I had no idea how these girls should win as it is written in the script.” (Deke Sharon)

“Here at LACF we’re literally preaching to the choir.” (Deke Sharon)

“Music is communication. You must be able to reach people with your voices.” (Deke Sharon)

“Vocal percussion and beatbox are essentially synonymous in our community.” “However, I as a vocal percussionist see myself as a member of band. It’s not about the beatbox competition pyrotechnics.” (Nick Girard)

“A great beatboxer often not makes a great vocal percussionist in a group: Vocal percussionists first and foremost will keep the time.” (Deke Sharon)

Nick Girard teaching vocal percussion

Nick Girard teaching vocal percussion

“Don’t listen to vocal percussionists – listen to real drummer doing their thing.” (Nick Girard)

“The breathing’s gonna get complicated.” (Nick Girard)

“The end of this sound looks like this.” (Nick Girard)

“If you’re afraid of looking stupid, you should probably not start with vocal percussion. And sorry, you will end up looking stupid even when you are very good at it.” (Nick Girard)

“It really sounds disgusting, this collective spiting, clearing throats.” (Florian Städtler)

“I don’t have to breathe anymore. Because I’m relaxed.” (Nick Girard)

“There have to be one or two trombone solos on YouTube.” (Deke Sharon)

“I learned this (the muted trumpet) after I got married.” (Deke Sharon)

“It’s that ugliness that you have to keep!” (Deke Sharon)

“Just say ‘Helluh, Gov’na!’” (Deke Sharon)

“Before you know it, you have a semi-marketable skill.” (Deke Sharon)

“A lot of what you hear when you sing bass, is your microphone.” (Nick Girard)

“I’m a baritenor.” (Nick Girard)

“The first thing you need for a cappella improvisation is no fear.” (Deke Sharon) “And maybe be a bit drunk.” (Nick Girard)

“It (improvisation Housejacks style) comes as a lovely soufflé of chaos and stupidity.” (Deke Sharon)

“We don’t mind if it goes wrong.” (John Pointer, The Housejacks)

“As members of the great British perfect music machine, you tend to forget about what this is all about: How does it make you feel and how can you share that feeling with other people.” (Deke Sharon)”

At work while the US guys are preaching :-) #VBontour

At work while the US guys are preaching :-) #VBontour

I’m Florian Städtler , a happy, happy man, because I can afford to spend four days in London meeting some of the coolest, most intelligent and lovely people I know. Vocal Blog has become my connection to this tiny, wonderful, nerdy, enthusiastic community of a cappella. If you like what you read and see, follow me via Twitter, like the Facebook fan page, join the Facebook group, watch 600+ videos at the Acappellazone YouTube channel. And you want to keep me and Vocal Blog going, buy vocal music CDs, DVDs, sheet music and cool stuff at my shop at






LACF 2012 Status Update: Backbones and a Vocal Jog World Record

by Florian Städtler, from London A Cappella Festival 2012 (#LACF2012)

It’s Saturday morning and it’s the third day of the third edition of the London A Cappella Festival 2012. We’ve seen wonderful concerts featuring The Vasari Singers (UK), The Boxettes (UK), Cadence (CAN) and FORK (FIN). The Schools on Stage project powered by Voice Festival UK made us smile and cheer, an arrangement competition supported by Oxford University Press resulted in fantastic music, countless foyer performances and encounters of both pro and amateur artists entertained us. We met and talked to a cappella aficionados and newbies, to visitors and vocal music tourists hailing from as far as San Fransisco, Taiwan, Toronto, Oslo, Torino, Boston and even a music lover from Milton Keynes…

I’ve been attending the London A Cappella Festival since it all started in January 2010 and I must say it here and now: What The Swingle Singers as hosts and curators together with super-pro organizers at Ikon Arts have build in less than three years is the perfect example of artistic vision and will combined with professional promotional execution. It’s impossible to name all the people here, who have contributed to the three-day vocal music extravaganza, but let’s just name two who in my eyes did an outstanding job: Clare Wheeler, alto with The Swingle Singers, has become one of the leading communicators of international a cappella. Thanks to her personal dedication, the number of overseas guest has become pretty impressive. The second mover and shaker who deserves special mention is Ikon ArtsJessica Hill. She has become the festival’s managerial backbone and seems to master the multiple tasks of running LACF with unbelievable friendliness and placidity. Along with Ikon Arts owner Costa Peristianis, Nicola Semple, Beccy Chilton and Natalia Franklin Pierce she made the festival happen and the growing number of attendants happy.


Besides the musical “core business”, countless special and hilarious things happen(ed) during this festival: A Cappella rockers FORK just twittered that they are going shopping (you will probably see the results on stage next time), recording legend Bill Hare (USA) just found a Pentatonix-lookalike in the British museum, Joan Hare flirted with an double-decker bus driver, the “Single Singers” (no typo) gathered for their first rehearsal after setting up a 20+ vocal group via social media (there will be a special on that later), this afternoon we’re going to see two panels discussing the state of affairs of contemporary a cappella and the pudding, cake and hi-heel-lovers found bliss in High Tea at Montagnue and at the buzzing after show parties at a pub called The Fellow.

My most important mission of LACF2012 was of a very different kind: On Friday, 13th of January, the first semi-official London A Cappella VOCAL JOG was to take place, another try to motivate a cappella people to get over their hangovers and join me on a little run during events like this. I have been running through cities during all my vocal music travelling life, but the maximum group of Vocal Joggers as of 2011 was two participants: Morten Vinther, baritone of The Real Group broke the spell on October 16th 2011 and went for the first ever non-solo Vocal Jog in my hometown Freiburg.

But for London A Cappella, I wanted to make it big time  – and I was supported by Willy Eteson former tenor and business director of The Swingle Singers who’s a slightly eccentric British foodie and hobby star chef today. While serving self-made pork specialties at Ikon Art’s desk all through the festival, he dared me: If I was able to run up Primrose Hill (the highest “mountain” in London City ;-) with a group of at least four other Vocal Joggers, he would be there at 8:45 on Friday 13th to cater the runners with home-baked power bars, bananas and water. At this point in time, there were 9 potential runners registered at the London A Cappella Vocal Jog Facebook page, so I was optimistic even though I knew that 4 of the listed 9 might have been a bit too optimistic regarding their being at the IBIS Euston hotel lobby at 8:30 in the morning.

Friday 13th came, I woke up at around 8:00 (after staying at the bar for much too long with the wonderful Hans Cassa of Montezuma’s Revenge), felt better than expected…but then got the first bad news: Line Groth, singer and arranger for Danish electro a cappella group Postyr Project didn’t feel well. Neither did Joakim Skog, executive producer of Stockholm’s The Real Vocal Festival. And I still had no confirmation of Nicholas Girard (House Jacks, Overboard, The Sing-Off) and John Buchanan Lau from Edinborough. So I went to the hotel lobby, thinking of Willy Eteson fighting his way through the London rush hour traffic all the way from Hackney, parking illegally and running up Primrose Hill with Vocal Jog delicacies…to find no more than two or three runners…

On top of the Vocal Jog world

As it turned out, Friday 13th was my lucky Vocal Jog day: The first one to show up was Hans Cassa along with the slightly jet-lagged US star Nick Girard and at 8:30h Annemarie Homann (NED, Single Singers founder), Claudia Appel Dom (another surprise guest from The Netherlands) and John Buchanan Lau, a cappella enthusiast from Edinborough joined and made me very happy vocal Jogger. The weather was beautiful, quite cold, but blue skies over London Town. So after passing two blocks we entered Regent’s park and after 20 minutes saw Primrose Hill – which for Londoners (and especially the Dutch guests) is the equivalent of the K2. In spite of general sleep deficit, transcontinental jet-lag and traces of hangovers we made it up Primrose Hill, but: No Willy Eteson…!

…but a fantastic Vocal Jog reception committee à la surprise: Bill Hare (he wore a jacket, which means it was freaking cold!), his mother Joan Hare and their good friend from Slovakia, Sona Killianova gave us a (shivering) big hand and took pictures with the proud runners in front of the London skyline and the rising sun. At around 9:10am with the photo session done, I told my running mates that I had hoped for Willy, but assumed that he got word of the declining number of participants or might simply be stuck in the morning traffic. Sure to be served something delicious later that day we said farewell to the trembling Californian-Slovakian reception committee and started to run down the hill…

…but only seconds later we heard Bill, Joan and Sona shouting and yelling, so we turned round and there he was: Mr. Aca-Deli, Richard “Willy” Eteson with the Vocal Jog catering that will go down in history. So we ran up again, took even more photos, got the right dose of doping, said thank you again and hit the road to make it to the hotels in time for breakfast. These, my friends, are true moments to remember, thank you London A Cappella for supporting this “crazy” (Clare Wheeler) project and spreading the Vocal Jog news.

The London Vocal Jog team 2012: Claudia Appel Dom, Nicholas Girard, Annemarie Homann, Florian Städtler, Willy Eteson, John Buchanan Lau, Hans Cassa

If you loved this story and are a runner (no matter what level, we do not run longer than 30-40 minutes, pace and distance don’t matter), send an e-mail to and you’ll be invited to future Vocal Jog events. Just to let you know: Jeeves Murphy from Washington DC has been appointed Vocal Jog ambassador for the US during the after show party yesterday. And the next European vocal music highlight, the Real Vocal Festival in Stockholm, Sweden is seriously considering making the Vocal Jog an official part of the festival’s progamme (August 16-19, 2012). Last but not least, Line Groth who will come to my hometown Freiburg next week to showcase Postyr Project at the Kulturbörse Freiburg (Jan 24, 20:30h) has told me that she persists to do the Vocal Jog with me there, no matter how tight the schedule may be. So I’m  looking forward to many more great pictures of fit singers & endorphine-addicted aca-fans from all over the world.

Do-doo-run-run-run, do-doo-run-run!

Florian Städtler is founder Vocal Blog and Chairman of the European Voices Association. He can’t believe how quickly this blog has developed a following of wonderful, intelligent and nicely-smelling people. Thanks for sharing the greatest ideas and the latest aca-gossip with a growing number of vocal music enthusiasts. If you can’t get enough of this stuff and/or want to get in touch with almost 1000 a cappella buddies like Vocal Blog on Facebook. If you want to make us of Vocal Blog as a filter and aggregator of a cappella news, links, tipps and hilarious tweets, follow Vocal Blog on Twitter.

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