The Voice Festival recently collaborated with Cambridge Music Education Outreach (CaMEO) to host a workshop for young singers from the Cambridgeshire area as part of the University’s ‘Festival of Ideas’ programme. Led by former current Cambridge students, the participants spent an afternoon exploring various aspects of a cappella singing including rhythm and percussion, vocal technique, and stagecraft before taking to the stage that evening to perform their afternoon’s work.
One workshop leader was Jetson, a US student studying for a semester at the University of Cambridge, and using his time to explore the UK a cappella scene as voice percussionist for Cambridge group, Cadenza. He loved taking part, and we loved having him! Here’s what he had to say:
Working with the Voice Festival as part of the Find Your Voice workshop for schools was a really positive and uplifting experience. Having sung in a cappella groups for a number of years, I find that you develop skills which go beyond musicality. Of course, singing without accompaniment requires strong musicianship and hard work, but it also requires strong motivation and flawless collaboration with your group. By bringing the experience of a cappella singing to kids, the Voice Festival provides them with the encouragement to explore this rising genre of music, to strive to be betters singers, and to work in tight collaboration with their peers.
Running a vocal percussion workshop for this event was really fun! Beatboxing is widely utilised in the US, where I’m from, but in England my experience has been that there is much less emphasis on percussion. I believe it adds a great layer to the music, keeping the group together and giving a more powerful sound. Most of the kids I worked with knew about beatboxing, but very few had ever done it! They picked it up so quickly, and we were even able to get some students to do it during their performance at the concert in West Road Concert Hall later that evening. By exposing these young musicians to vocal percussion, I believed we furthered their understanding of a cappella and their performance skills set, while adding a new dimension to the music they’ll produce for years to come.