Your Intro to Pop A Cappella

Hint: It might just be more approachable than you think!

Looking for new ways to get students to join choir and keep them coming back for more? 

From Pentatonix to Pitch Perfect, they’ve already fallen in love with pop a cappella. 

Here’s Rob Dietz to help you teach them to sing it.

Rob, a cappella teacher/performer/producer with Glee, Sing-Off and America’s Got Talent credits to his name, has put together A Cappella 101, a guide to help you teach students of all levels how to sing the music they love.

Rob also picked out a few songs to help your students apply what they’re learning. This list includes the showstoppers your advanced students are craving and also a strong set to engage those earlier in their journey and help them find success.

A Cappella 101 by Rob Dietz

In A Cappella 101, Rob Dietz expertly describes the nuts, bolts and artistry of creating contemporary a cappella music. Covering everything from pop vocal tone and vocal drumming to movement, arranging and recording, this book and the accompanying online videos are a “how-to” for newbies and seasoned experts alike.

Rob himself introduces the book in this video:

Approachable Pop A Cappella

Viva La Vida

By: Coldplay
Arranged by: Rob Dietz
SAT + Solo and Vocal Percussion

A great starting piece, no basses required! The tenor line is good for both changed and unchanged voices, and the vocal percussion is simple and easy to execute for a beginner.

The Way I Am

By: Ingrid Michaelson
Arranged By: MaryAnne Muglia
SSA

This arrangement features a simple, repeating bass line that’s a great way for altos to get familiar with holding down the bass part of an a cappella arrangement (and it’s not too low!). Lots of simple, well voiced, yet unexpected harmonies in this chart.

Dance Monkey

By: Tones and I
Arranged By: Bryan Sharpe
SAB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

This one is a really good introduction to slightly more complex bass/vocal percussion. The drums are simple, and notated to make them a little easier to pick up for a beginner. The bass sits in a very achievable register for younger voices, and includes some more advanced rhythms without being overwhelming.

When The Party’s Over

By: Billie Eilish
Arranged By: Rob Dietz
SAAB + Solo

Great for groups who want to try some easy, close harmony pop! The ranges are all fairly limited, and parts are mostly stepwise or easy interval jumps. The bass part sits in an easy register for young voices.

Kings and Queens

By: Ava Max
Arranged By: BK Riha
SATB + Vocal Percussion

Lots of block chord singing makes this chart powerful without needing to execute too many dense background textures. The bass and VP are very authentic, but also very easy to pick up quickly (and the VP is notated).

Up for a Bit of a Challenge?

Light In The Hallway
By: Pentatonix
Arranged By: Jacob Narverud
SATBB

Perfect for choirs who want to experiment with a pop sound, as well as beginning a cappella groups who want to do some beautiful close harmony singing. Lots of featured moments for lower voices, so good baris are a plus!

Stitches

By: Shawn Mendes
Arranged By: BK Riha
SATB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

This arrangement is a good introdution to trio-background texture, and features some simple, interwoven lines that will provide a small challenge with a big payoff. Vocal percussion is simple and notated.

Don’t Start Now

By: Dua Lipa
Arranged By: Deke Sharon
SATB + Vocal Percussion

A good step up for groups who want something accessible, but a little more challenging. Some parts are rhythmically more complicated, but repeated, so once you’ve got it, you’ve got it! The lead is shared across all parts, so doesn’t require a soloist.

If I Die Young

By: The Band Perry
Arranged By: Ben Bram
SATB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

A little more ambitious in terms of range and complexity of vocal percussion, but still a very accessible arrangement for a beginner or advanced beginner group. The bridge is a good introduction to singing a bell tone texture.

Aspirational Pop A Cappella

I Need Your Love

By: Ellie Goulding
Arranged By: Ben Bram
SATB div + Solo and Vocal Percussion

For advanced-beginner groups looking for a challenge. More advanced syncopation, bell tone textures, divisi, and intermediate vocal percussion make this arrangement great for leveling up your group.

Shut Up And Dance

By: Walk The Moon
Arranged By: Tom Anderson
SSATTB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

If your group is ready to move to more intermediate contemporary a cappella repertoire, this is a great place to start! Lots of pop syncopations in all parts will force you to find the groove, but a fairly straightforward, four-on-the-floor vocal percussion line will help tie it all together.

Somewhere Only We Know

By: Keane
Arranged By: Katherine Bodor
SSAATBB + Solo and Vocal Percussion

A great introduction to multi-trio, layered harmony. This arrangement allows a group to work on extended harmony stacking without too many intricate rhythms or complicated vocal percussion.

I Want You Back

By: The Jackson 5
Arranged By: Rob Dietz
SSATBB div + Solo and Vocal Percussion

Ready to step it up? This arrangement is a good challenge for a true intermediate group that’s ready to tackle rhythm, stacked harmony, agile bass, and vocal percussion all at once!

About Rob Dietz

Rob Dietz is a multiple CARA winning producer who has been arranging, performing, and teaching contemporary a cappella music for over twenty years. Rob is best known for his work as an arranger and group coach for NBC’s The Sing-Off. Through his work on the show, Rob has collaborated with some of the top talent in the vocal music world, including Pentatonix, Peter Hollens, and Voiceplay. His arrangements have been showcased on several TV shows, including America’s Got Talent (NBC), To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You (Netflix), and Pitch Slapped (Lifetime). As a performer he is an award-winning vocal percussionist, and his distinctive sound has been featured on FOX’s Glee and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Rob has a deep passion for a cappella education, and is a founding co-director of A Cappella Academy (along with Ben Bram and Avi Kaplan). In addition to his work with Academy, Rob is also the director of Legacy: an award-winning auditioned, community youth a cappella group. Rob is the author of A Cappella 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Contemporary A Cappella Singing. Alongside his work in contemporary a cappella music, Rob is also an avid choral composer – his pieces are performed by choirs from all over the world. Learn more at www.robdietzmusic.com. Twitter and Instagram: @rdietz55.

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