Saturday, October 12, 2013

Reynolds Club
5706 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637



Introductory Intermediate Advanced Limited Enrollment All Levels
Harper 140 Harper 130 Harper 150 Harper 138 Harper 141
8:00 am A cappella Business Plan Contest
Patrick Hockberger & Matt Kania
9:00 am Arranging Basics
Amanda Cornaglia & Panel
Find Your Strength in Visual Performance
Alexandra Gilewicz
Riff Off and Improv
Marc Silverberg
Web Rage – Social Media and Webpage Planning
Emily Krulewitz
10:15 am Please Don’t Sing ‘Some Nights’: A Panel Discussion with Varsity Vocals
Amanda Newman, Andrea Poole & Sara Yood
Vocal Percussion: Intro
Carson Klingenberg & Loren Shevitz
Sing Like You Mean It
Ariel Arbisser
Taking Notice – Listening and Watching like a Critic
Mike Chin
Make a Bad Song Good
Lennie Cottrell
11:30 am Lunch Break
12:30 pm Showcase
2:00 pm Keynote Address
2:45 pm Women in A cappella panel
Amy Malkoff & Panel: Cornaglia, Arbisser, Poole, Newkirk, Yood
Create the Show
Rene Ruiz
Zero to Hero – Group Growth and Improvement
Chris Rishel
All Ears – Listening Skills
Danny Ozment
Vocal Percussion: Mechanics and Theory
Carson Klingenberg
4:00 pm Essential Listening
Ben Stevens
Group Therapy for A cappella Success
Ariel Arbisser & Heather Newkirk
Get Your Album on Track
Alex Koutzoukis & Alex Green
Original Songwriting
Bri Holland
Danny Ozment
5:00 pm Dinner Break
7:30 pm Professional Showcase

Class Descriptions

Arranging Basics

A cappella Business Plan Contest – Limited Enrollment
This hands-on workshop will start as a class on a cappella entrepreneurship. We will help people find an idea and go over features of a quality business plan: market needs, customers, competition, management, operations, marketing, expansion strategy, and financial projections. Then you will have the chance to craft your own business strategy with the help of VoxLabs. At the end of the class, you will present your plan, receive feedback, and leave with a solid business plan for your a cappella group.

All Ears
A workshop in listening and how to improve your listening skills as an individual singer and group. Based on the Real Group’s All Ears classes, participants will actively participate (all-together) in exercises in group cohesion, tempo changes, tuning, timing, and cleanliness.

How to Make a Bad Song Good – Limited Enrollment
Have you ever heard a song you wanted to sing a cappella and thought “I love that melody and those lyrics, but the accompaniment is so boring!” The good news for a cappella arrangers is that we have the power to make bad songs good. With enough creativity and knowledge, we can turn any song, no matter how repetitive, monochrome, or dull, into an exciting and entertaining a cappella song. In this workshop we will listen to and look at a variety of songs, covers, and arrangements, and discuss ways to make songs more interesting for both the singers and the audience, as well as spend some time discussing your own ideas for songs you might want to arrange for your group.

Create the Show
You’ve spent long hours perfecting those chords and rehearsing the perfect blend. Now it’s time to present your music to an audience. Here are the important things to remember when creating, designing and presenting your “show”. I outline the important steps to take when turning your music into a “visual” medium.

Essential Listening
What is there to listen to, how might we listen to it, and why? In this interactive workshop we develop our critical-listening skills so as to recover our fundamental human capacity to be moved by music. A special focus is on songs, performances, and other moments that have been central to contemporary a cappella.

Find Your Strength in Visual Performance
There has been little innovation in the visual elements of live a cappella performance, with many groups retreating to minimal blocking or movement for comedic effect. This stagnation, particularly in collegiate performance, can be attributed to the misconceptions that interesting staging requires extensive dance experience or skill, and that movement necessarily detracts from the musicality of a performance. I intend to address both of these concerns in this workshop, with a focus on the former.

Get Your Album on Track
How to plan and execute an album from the producers’ side of things. We constantly have groups come to us out of what appears to just be habit or routine. “Well, we record every two years, so it’s about time.” But WHY? What’s the goal? We want to talk about ways to create a vision for your project that will get the group AND the producer excited, and as a result, extract a better product from all involved parties.

Group Therapy: For A Cappella Success
Face it: your a cappella group could use a little therapy. Every group falls on hard times, whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned pro. We’re prepared to coach you through all of the struggles facing your group, from song selection and arranging, to publicity and branding, to the fundamental structure of your a cappella group. Come! Tell us what issues your group has (or just listen!), and we’ll talk them out. We’ll give you some pro-tips on how to become the group you’ve always wanted to be.

Melodyne – Limited Enrollment
How to work with Melodyne, and make Melodyne work for you.

Original Songwriting
The past few years have seen more a cappella original music than possibly ever before. Where does one begin in writing a song? Where do ideas come from, and how do you keep them organized? What kinds of tools can be utilized if you hit a roadblock? How can you make your ideas as effective as possible? This course will break down the process of songwriting into manageable steps and give you the tools necessary to express your ideas and emotions in music.

Please Don’t Sing ‘Some Nights’: A Panel Discussion with Varsity Vocals
Your Varsity Vocals producers want to make this the best competition season your group has ever had. Come hear Amanda Newman (Executive Director), Andrea Poole (ICHSA Director), and Sara Yood (ICCA Finals Producer) speak about the application process, competition format, and competition rules (please don’t break them, we hate it!) We’ll also get into common pitfalls, personal experiences (we’ve all competed previously) and how not to piss off your regional producer. (No seriously, please don’t break the rules!) Your questions are our priority in this panel, and we’ll get you prepped to cruise through the competition events this season with confidence and poise.

Riff off and Improv
It’s time to riff-off! Participants will experience group improvisation games, learn how to train their group for a genuine riff-off, and then take part in a winner-take-all showdown, just like the movie Pitch Perfect.

Sing It Like you Mean It
Have you watched soloists perform their songs exactly the same way every single time? With no feeling or passion? Have you ever fallen into the same trap? Through interactive voice coaching, the introduction of Sanford Meisner’s Acting Technique, and the implementation of some specific methods and exercises, this class will help you transition from a robotic soloist into a dynamic performer who connects with the lyrics and gives your audience an authentic, committed, in-the-moment performance every single time. Come to this class with an open mind and a portion of a solo ready (a verse and a chorus). Be prepared to step up and work!

Taking Notice – Listening and Watching like a Critic
Successful a cappella groups are reflective and use constructive criticism to better their groups. Groups that can evaluate their own performances in objective, meaningful ways stand the chance to develop and improve their live performance and recordings over time. In this session, groups will get hands on practice looking at a cappella through the eyes and ears of a critic. Attendees start by discussing big picture questions including what audiences notice most about groups, what identity a group projects, and how song selection affects audience perception. From there, attendees listen to segments of recorded a cappella songs and watch videos of live performances, first to take in holistic performances, then to focus in small groups on more granular elements of performance. The session reveals macro- and micro-level creative choices that can define an a cappella group’s level of success.

Vocal Percussion: Intro
Learning and putting into practice the five basic sounds of college vocal percussion – /p/, /t/, /ts/, /pf/, and inward /k/. We will practice sample lines and we will create a new line from an existing pop song. Basic instruction on proper use of fills and crashes.

Vocal Percussion: Mechanics and Theory – Limited Enrollment
An analysis of the mechanical aspects of vocal percussion. The class is aimed at intermediate vocal percussionists, but beginners will be able to follow, and more advanced percussionists will learn some new things. Topics include how dialect and native language influence vocal percussion style and technique; the combinatorial nature of VP, how to add different linguistic aspects to reach the sound you want, and the intra-phonemic differences in sounds we produce.

Web Rage
This class will help you develop a brand for your group and then make sure everyone on the internet knows it. The class covers basic website design but still includes more advanced methods. The class will also cover the role of social media and include a discussion and many examples of appropriate usage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more!

Women in A cappella panel
Historically, women have been the minority in the a cappella world. That’s an anomaly, as generally in the performing arts, there are more women than men. That percentage is now evening out, and women are finding their way in the world of vocal music, in groups and ensembles with and without men. Join us as we discuss the future of women in a cappella – what are our strengths, what we can improve upon, where are we headed? Men welcome!

Zero to Hero
With hundreds of collegiate a cappella groups vying to make their mark, standing out from the crowd can be a challenge. This is especially true for new (or newly ambitious) groups lacking the power of name recognition from previous achievements. While it’s certainly possible to get very lucky with a viral video or celebrity tweet, a much more realistic first step is to make an impact within the a cappella community, as the metrics of success are reasonably well-defined and accessible. In this workshop, we will discuss how to objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of a group (both artistic and logistical), consider the group’s context within the broader a cappella world, and use this as a framework to set realistic goals and develop specific strategies to achieve them.


Ariel Arbisser
Ariel Arbisser currently sings with The Funx, but may be best known for her time singing with the Cornell Chordials at Cornell University where she won the 2010 CARA for Best Solo and was featured on the CARA-winning track “Ramalama (Bang Bang).” Her solos have been featured on Sing, Voices Only, and Voices Only Forte. While singing with the Chordials, Ariel served as President and CD Producer for two award winning albums. She guest soloed with the professional group Overboard on the track “Dog Days Are Over” in 2011 and frequently reprises her performance with The PickUps at CASA conventions. She lives in Ithaca, NY where she coaches voice students, sings with two bands, serves on the Board of Trustees for a non-profit musical theater company, and performs with and recently graduated from the Actor’s Workshop of Ithaca where she studied the Meisner Acting Technique.

Mike Chin
Mike Chin, content manager and co-founder of The A Cappella Blog, has reviewed over 250 different sets at over over 40 different a cappella competitions and festivals and co-authored The A Cappella Book. He earned his MA in writing at Johns Hopkins University, won the Ambassador Apartments Scholarship for Excellence in Journalism, was a finalist for the Nelligan Prize for short fiction, and winner of the A Cappella Community Award for Favorite A Cappella Blog. Mike currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and works in gifted education.

Amanda Cornaglia@acaldag
Born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Amanda started her a cappella career as musical director of Special K at Hamilton College. After graduation she moved to rural Japan for 4 years where she founded, trained and performed with an international a cappella group called the Amigos. Since moving the the DC area in 2005, Amanda has founded and performs with Euphonism (CAL) and Snowday, a group that primarily provides a cappella educational programs in the Mid-Atlantic. She has served as a CARA nominator and judge and written numerous arrangements for groups around the world.

Lennie Cottrell
Lennie began singing a cappella in high school when he founded his high school group, The Overtones, an all-male group. He continued his bromance with a cappella at Northwestern University, singing with Freshman Fifteen, where he business manager, music director, vocal percussionist and a frequent arranger. Lennie was a music education major, and now works as an In-School Conductor for the Chicago Children’s Choir. You can hear three of Lennie’s arrangements (“I Can Change”, “Summer Romance”, and “L-O-V-E”) on Freshman Fifteen’s latest album, “High Five Friday”

Alex Gilewicz
Alex is the Creative Director of Voices in Your Head from the University of Chicago. As the group’s head choreographer and visual performance coach, Alex helped propel Voices to a first place finish at the inaugural BOSS:Boston Sings collegiate competition, earning a Best Staging Overall nod in the process. Her choreography was recognized at 2012′s ICCA Quarterfinal and Midwest Semifinal, and contributed to the group’s fourth place finish at 2012′s ICCA Finals. When not demanding every last bit of angst and emotion of her fellow Voices, Alex works at a public interest law firm in Chicago, IL. She plans to one day save the world through the potent combination of law and slick aca-dance moves.

Alex Green
Alex Green is a producer, recording engineer and co-owner of Plaid Productions with Alexander Koutzoukis. He spent his college career singing with and directing the Tufts Amalgamates, and has since worked on albums with groups from across the country and the world, and made countless soups. He enjoys the fruits of both labors.

Patrick Hockberger
Patrick Hockberger is a Chicago-based musician and entrepreneur who specializes in composing, directing, and performing vocal music. He has been a RARB reviewer, writer for CASA, and a CARA nominator and judge. While attending Northwestern University, he music directed The Undertones and oversaw the production of their album Rock Paper Shotgun. Today he sings with Vocal Chaos, the a cappella group that founded AcappellaFest in 2007. He has sung in venues all over Chicago including Orchestra Hall in Symphony Center, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Grant Park, and the Chicago House of Blues. As a composer he specializes in writing music for film, video games, and the stage. Earlier this year Patrick co-founded VoxLabs, a new a cappella business exploring experimental ventures in vocal music.

Brianne Holland@briholland
Bri’s relationship with a cappella began as a student at The University of Chicago. While serving as Music Director of Men in Drag, President of Voices in Your Head, and President of the UChicago A Cappella Council, Bri won the 2012 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) for Best Female Collegiate Arrangement and 2013 CARA for Best Scholastic Original Song, and her arrangements and solos have been featured on compilation albums Voices Only, Best of Collegiate A Cappella, and Sing. Bri is currently a producer with The Vocal Company, and is a founding member of vocal group, Lady Jaye. She’s completed the Soup2Nuts seminar with Deke Sharon and Bill Hare, served as the Assistant Educational Officer for CASA, is an Ambassador for the Women’s A Cappella Association, founded and directed high school group/camp FReestyle in her hometown, and was a counselor at the inaugural Camp A Cappella 2013. Bri is an avid songwriter and performer, and is looking forward to a lifetime career in music.

Matt Kania

Carson Klingenberg
Carson graduated in 2012 from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Applied Linguistics. While at Washington University, he sang with After Dark and implemented an artist outreach initiative, where the group regularly received feedback and advice from the original artists of their songs. Upon graduating from Washington University, Carson founded Unchained Acappella with a small group of WashU alumni, focused on creating high-caliber recorded acappella tracks. More recently, Carson, along with Kristine Gage and Ryan Starks, co-founded Soul Discretion, a collection of some of the most talented Midwest acappella alumni

Alexander Koutzoukis
Alexander is co-owner (and producer, and engineer…) of Plaid Productions, a full-service a cappella production studio based in Boston, along with Alex Green. While attending Tufts University for computer science, he spent five years in the Beelzebubs, for two of which he was Music Director. He got his start in the field of a cappella production while working closely with Ed Boyer and Bill Hare on two award-winning Bubs albums (Pandaemonium and Play The Game) and continued along that path to help record and edit the most recent, BATTLE, as well as about half of the Warblers tracks from Season 2 of Glee. He won a 2010 Best Male Collegiate Arrangement CARA for his arrangement of “All The Love In The World,” a 2012 CARA runner-up in the same category for “Kings and Queens,” and was also runner-up for Favorite Vocal Percussionist in the 2010 ACAs (which is ironic because he had just finished competing with the Bubs on the first season of the Sing-Off, where they were the runners-up).

Emily Krulewitz
Emily Krulewitz started her aca-career in 11th grade with Girls Meet World of Westborough High School, and then continued on to sing with the X-Factors of Northwestern University. During her time in the X-Factors, Emily served as both the Business Manger and the Creative Director, where she focused on marketing, goal-setting and developing a brand for the Factors. Having now graduated, Emily has relocated to Washington, DC and is hoping to start singing again as soon as she can! Emily started volunteering with CASA for ACF 2012 and enjoyed it so much that she hasn’t stopped since. She also taught a class at BOSS 2013 and had so much darn fun that she decided to teach it again!

Amy Malkoff@amalkoff
Involved in a cappella since college (Kenyon College), Amy Malkoff is a founding member and bandleader of the group All About Buford, and she has appeared on stage and in the studio with such luminaries as Wayne Brady, Jonatha Brooke, The Persuasions, Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, GrooveLily, Patty Griffin, and Dar Williams. She has a degree in music from Kenyon College, with music studies at Youngstown State University and masters-level coursework at the New England Conservatory of Music. Amy is a Certified Adjudicator and Producer for the International Championships of Collegiate and High School A Cappella, and was the launching editor-in-chief of She is a writer and designer (, as well as a singer/songwriter ( Amy’s music has appeared on both the Rounder Records and Hear Music/Starbucks labels.

Heather Newkirk
Heather Newkirk (@heathernewkirk) is a very small girl with a very large love for music. She began at Syracuse University with the all-female and fabulous Main Squeeze. In four years, she served as business manager, public relations director, music director, arranger, vocal percussion, and choreographer (Yes, all of those). She has been awarded Best VP and Best Arrangement at ICCAs, and led Main Squeeze to record their first EP. Her arrangement “Wolf & I” can be heard on Voices Only 2013. She also helped to co-found Volta who competed in the 2013 BOSS Collegiate Competition. When she isn’t doing a cappella things, she’s probably off being a nerd about computer games or eating food, or usually both at the same time.

Amanda Newman
Amanda Newman has been on the Varsity Vocals team since 2002. She spent a year serving as ICCA Midwest Producer before becoming Executive Director of the company. Amanda came to Varsity Vocals after serving as business manager and choreographer for the University of Illinois a cappella group, No Strings Attached, and was awarded for Best Choreography at the ICCA Midwest Semifinals. Amanda holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. She plays piano and cello and has sung with the University of Illinois Concert Choir, the Augustana Choir and the Handel Oratorio Society. Amanda has served as Publicity Manager for the Apollo Chorus of Chicago and Operations Coordinator for Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. After becoming the owner of Varsity Vocals in 2008, she began selecting tracks for the company’s BOCA and BOHSA compilations.

Danny Ozment
Danny Ozment grew up in Richmond, VA and began his a cappella career at James Madison University where he founded Exit 245 and also sang with The Madison Project and The Overtones. He received a masters degree in conducting from JMU and then settled in Washington, DC where he conducted and prepared professional choirs at the Kennedy Center for the Master Chorale of Washington and the National Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, Danny started Emerald City Productions, a recording studio based in Springfield, VA offering recording, editing, mixing, coaching, and arranging services. He has received over 30 CARA award nominations in the professional and collegiate categories and his work has appeared on the SING, BOCA, BOHSA, Voices Only, and Voices Only Forte compilations. Danny has served on the CASA Board of Directors since 2011.

Andrea Poole
Andrea Poole works for Varsity Vocals as the Director of the International Championship of High School A Cappella. She has produced numerous ICCA and ICHSA shows in the Midwest region over the past six years and recently served as the ICCA Great Lakes producer. Andrea is an alumna of Michigan State University’s Capital Green and continues to arrange music for the group and other college and high school groups across the region. She graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2007 and a master’s degree in public relations in 2009.

Chris Rishel
Chris Rishel was first introduced to a cappella music when he sang in a barbershop quartet in 8th grade, and has been hooked ever since. Throughout high school and undergrad, he continued pursuing barbershop until he finally entered the realm of contemporary a cappella during graduate school at the University of Chicago. There, he directed Voices in Your Head and has produced the group’s recent recordings, including the award-winning album, I Used to Live Alone and the singles “We Found Love”, “Titanium”, and “Life of the Mind”. He has won 3 CARAs for both songwriting and arranging, and has had his work featured on Sing, BOCA, Voices Only, and Ben Folds’s a cappella album. Additionally, several of his arrangements have won “oustanding arrangement” awards at ICCA quarterfinals and semifinals, and helped propel Voices in Your Head to a widely acclaimed appearance at ICCA Finals in 2012. He also founded the A Cappella Council at the University of Chicago, and has arranged, recorded, and edited for a number of groups in the midwest and beyond.

Rene Ruiz
René Ruiz is an accomplished voice actor, stage director and narrator. He created, directed and performed with the Off-Broadway acappella theatre show TOXIC AUDIO. This piece showcased the power of the human voice with smooth harmonies, vocal sound effects and musical improv. It won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for “Unique Theatrical Experience”. The group became the Harmony Sweeps National Champions in 2000 and their album “Chemistry” was crowned CARA Album Of The Year in 2003. He has performed as an announcer, director and vocalist for the Walt Disney World Co., Universal Studios Florida, Six Flags New England, Kennywood and Hershey Park. He has also narrated numerous audiobooks, documentaries, corporate videos and commercials.

Loren Shevitz

Marc Silverberg
Marc Silverberg is a doctoral fellow at Five Towns College. He is the author of “Quest for the A cappella Major,” a blog that discusses the continuing education of contemporary a cappella music and group improvisation. He has presented workshops on vocal improvisation at several sponsored festivals, as well as the American Choral Directors Association’s 2013 national convention. His CAL Group, Satellite Lane, was recently crowned the 2013 New York Harmony Sweepstakes “Audience Favorite,” as well as the recipient of “Best Arrangement.” In addition to being an a cappella clinician, conductor, and performer, he also writes original musicals and plays. His original work, He’s Not Himself, premiered Off-Broadway in 2012 as part of the New York Music Theatre Festival. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Westminster Choir College.

Benjamin Stevens@beldonstevens
Benjamin Eldon Stevens, Ph.D., is a professional educator and clinician. In a cappella he has directed education for CASA, coordinated RARB, and judged for the CARAs, ICCAs, and ICHSAs; currently he directs education for The Vocal Company. Outside of a cappella, Dr. Stevens specializes in Latin, Greek, and classical traditions, focusing on how ancient literature has influenced modern genres including science fiction and fantasy; he is currently at Hollins University. Follow him on facebookTwitter, and his poetry blog.

Matt Woodward
Matt Woodward sang tenor in a barbershop quartet called the Nile Manski Trio, which took 3rd place at the International Collegiate Barbershop Contest in 2002 and 2004. He was a tenor section leader of the San Marcos Marcsmen, the 2008 International Youth Chorus Grand Champions. He frequently records learning tracks for the TMEA Region music in San Antonio. In 2012, he taught a class on warmups and overtones at BOSS and SoJam. He currently teaches choir at MacArthur HS in San Antonio. His group, PFC, was the 2011 ICHSA Champs, 2012 Southwest ICHSA Champs, and has won every award Varsity Vocals offers except 3rd place. His passions in life are his gorgeous wife, arranging, cooking (eating), and snobby hi-fi audio.

Sara Yood
Sara Yood has been a producer with Varsity Vocals since 2003, serving as Midwest Producer, Northeast Producer, and now as Finals Producer. An alum of the Washington University Amateurs, Sara led the Amateurs to their first appearance in Varsity Vocals competition. After moving to New York in 2004, Sara sang with Treble, New York’s all-female a cappella group, and then went to law school and directed the law school’s a cappella group, The Tortfeasors. Sara also served as the CARA Award Director at BOSS 2013. In her spare time, Sara is an intellectual property lawyer, a runner with Team in Training, and singer in the New York City Master Chorale.