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home : music : music August 19, 2014

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8/12/2013 2:44:00 PM
Get Your Harmony ON with Contemporary A cappella
Susannah Martin
Susannah Martin

We want you and your voice for some groovy harmony singing third Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m., August-October, including this Thursday, Aug. 15. If you can carry a tune and are 16 or older, that's all that's required to join 'Circle Song' the contemporary a cappella class/choir in West Sedona (location information below). Circle Song, coached by professional vocalist Susannah Martin, is on-going and always accepting new singers, but don't wait to join the fun! This is a great opportunity for all you karaoke buffs and shower singers out there and other lovers of song to dust off your vocal cords, have a great time and make some harmony together! $10 per class for a great time singing pop, folk, rounds and lots of other groovy, creative stuff. Walk-ins most welcome.

"It's a great treat to have such a skilled musician as Susannah showing us how much fun a cappella singing can be. I like our nicely balanced group and how we always find a fun way to groove together." ~Mary Morris, Sedona.

" Susannah gives people, like myself, a chance to sing who normally don't have the opportunity. The class is transformational for me spiritually and biologically. Our singing gets the energy moving and leads me into a transcendent state. I can feel the oxygen moving to my brain and it seems like my very blood moves more freely because of the singing." ~ Chad Graf, Sedona.

A cappella, which means "sung, without instrumental accompaniment" has a long and varied history, from Gregorian chants and madrigal groups, to field hollers, gospel choirs, barbershop quartets and large choruses. Although much newer on the musical horizon, contemporary a cappella is also very eclectic, exploring, in a purely vocal fashion, the music of pop, folk, rock, jazz, R&B, world music, and more. Its popularity has been showcased professionally in doo wop groups of the 50s & 60s like The Platters, The Coasters and The Flamingos. More current manifestations include vocal bands like The Nylons, Rockapella, M-Pact, SoVoSo, The Housejacks, Voicestra and some of the repertoire of The Manhattan Transfer. It is also wildly popular on college campuses across the nation.

According to vocal coach and professional vocalist, Susannah Martin, "This is music that appeals to the masses. It's focused on fun, popular styles that we enjoy listening to and, with the help of a coach, are also relatively easy to sing, even with little prior experience. It is easy enough to learn the songs "by ear", so the choir members don't need to be able to read music, which is often a requirement in other music ensembles. As well, the contemporary styles and songs can easily be adjusted to the abilities of the singers. Another important factor is the group experience, which supports everyone in singing their part and also adds the joy of creating something as part of a community."

Also included in the class and choir experience will be training in healthy vocal production, some basic instruction in music theory and harmony singing, and as a great bonus, the creativity-enhancing 'Circle Song.' Circle singing is a fun and stimulating vocal format made popular by Bobby McFerrin in his workshops and in his Voicestra vocal ensemble. Members gather in a circle and are assigned sections of a 'groove', whether it be mostly melodic, rhythmic or entirely percussive. Parts can be either pre-determined or improvised and creatively changed. 'Soloing' on top of the vocal groove is highly encouraged as well.

Instructor: Susannah Martin has a 25+ year career as a vocalist singing with Big Bands, Jazz combos, Latin Jazz, Avant Garde and A cappella groups, as well as Motown, Classic Rock, Top 40 and R&B/Funk bands. She has a degree in Music from Willamette University and has taught jazz choirs, vocal workshops and private students. In addition, she has directed numerous music programs, including Urban Harmony, a network of community a cappella choirs in the San Francisco Bay Area, and served as program manager for Sedona Jazz on the Rocks, cultivating jazz education among youth and producing a national jazz festival. Now residing in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, Susannah is a prized performer throughout the region, appearing at jazz festivals, concerts, clubs and private events.

Class Information: A cappella class/choir is on-going and meets 6:30-7:45 p.m. at private homes in West Sedona. (8/15 is at 48 W. Plumage Dr. )- call or email for directions) class is open to ages 16 and up. There are no auditions, but participants are asked to have some minimal experience singing and at least the ability to hear a pitch and sing it back accurately or "carry a tune". Cost is $10/class. For more information contact Susannah Martin at, call (928) 593-9113 or Just Show UP!

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