Wes Carroll's Seminars in Vocal Percussion and A Cappella Performance

Contact: Wes Carroll at wes@mouthdrumming.com for booking information.

Vocal Percussion Seminars

Kick-off and/or Wrap-up Seminar

A Cappella Performance Seminars

 

Wes Carroll has organized and presented public and private seminars in the US and Europe for the past eight years. He has been a featured speaker or presenter at workshops in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Vienna, and throughout Germany and Italy.

Wes has worked with choral conductors, pop stars, high school singers, recreational vocalists, college music majors, fans, and everything in between. Once he knows who will be attending, Wes can make sure to deliver a presentation that's interesting and informative for everyone involved.

The clinics are designed to be fun and educational, increasing the students' exposure to professional music while providing immediate results for their improvement. Topics can be reviewed with the organizers before the workshop in order to customize the event for the needs and abilities of the attendees.

Wes is always happy to tailor a day's events to the needs and interests of the attendees. So, when you sponsor an event with Wes Carroll, please take your choice of any number of the presentation topics listed to the left.

Wes' mission as a vocal performance service professional is to advance the art of contemporary a cappella music performance in general, and of vocal percussion in particular.  He is committed to active practice and research providing accurate, up-to-date information regarding vocal percussion and a cappella performance, as well as complete and specific attention regarding each individual student's needs and recommended treatment.  His overall objective is to provide fun and enthusiasm in a personal and helpful environment and to enhance the power of musical rewards.


 

A Cappella Performance Seminars

Master Class (30 to 90 minutes per performing group)

Master Class performers should come prepared with at least three songs. Other attendees should be prepared to listen critically and to discuss what they hear.

In a master class, a group or individual performs several times for all attendees. Between performances, Wes guides a discussion highlighting particular aspects of the performance, leading to improvements in various areas - some of which the performer may not even have been aware.

All styles and levels of groups are welcome to perform as part of the master class, as the topics covered relate to groups and singers universally.

Common topics include vocal warm-up, group sound, tuning, blend, balance, presentation, stage presence, stage focus, and the arc of a successful performance.

This is Wes's most popular seminar outside of vocal percussion, as it can easily involve all event participants simultaneously.

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Group Performance and Coaching (30 to 90 minutes per performing group)

Performers should come prepared with at least two songs.

This is the private version of the Master Class, conducted with only the performing group and Wes. Instead of involving an interested audience, Wes gives feedback directly to the performers.

Common focuses include vocal warm-up, group sound, tuning, blend, balance, presentation, stage presence, stage focus, and the arc of a successful performance.

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Vocal Improvisation (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants will vocalize in a supportive and encouraging environment.

In this seminar you'll learn the fundamentals of improvising pop songs, how to sing a "circle song," and how to improvise a piece of music without any rules or boundaries.

The primary focus of this seminar is on active listening while performing, as a fundamental musical skill. In addition, sensitivity to musical shape, direction, and space will be explored.

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Singing with a Group (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants will learn to be more effective musicians in a group context. Participants should be prepared to sing simple melodies as directed.

This clinic is an opportunity for beginning vocalists to experience the joy of group singing, and for more advanced singers to learn or reinforce some of the skills that contribute to successful group interplay, including active listening, sensitivity to space, and musical shape and direction.

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Basic Studio Preparation (30 to 60 minutes)

This seminar is recommended for all people considering making an album or demo.

In this seminar, we will discuss the basic components of a studio recording session, from concept through delivery of product.

Most people interested in recording an album or demo do not have a clear picture of the necessary steps involved in a successful recording project. This short seminar gives participants an understanding of how to successfully create an album or demo, focusing special attention on the ways in which recording projects usually become much more costly, both in time and money, than is often anticipated at the outset.

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Advanced Studio Preparation Clinic (60 to 120 minutes)

Participants should be actively preparing an album or demo. Participants may be called on to sing songs and/or parts of songs that are ready to be recorded in a professional studio.

This clinic is an opportunity for those who are about to create a recording to go through the many facets of album creation, and determine whether they have forgotten any important part of preparation. The goal is to find the mistakes here, and thereby avoid making expensive mistakes in the studio, where mistakes cost by the hour.

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Vocal Percussion Seminars

Introduction to Vocal Percussion (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants are assumed to have no experience in vocal percussion.

This is Wes' most popular seminar. Beginning with nothing more than a mouth and an open mind, each participant will be guided through a series of questions and exercises that will result in the ability to perform simple vocal percussion lines, including hi-hat, snare, and kick drum sounds, as well as some additional percussion elements.

This seminar has a strong focus on reinforcing fundamentals of basic musicianship and technique, but requires no musical experience other than as a music enthusiast.

Habits acquired here will be of interest to all, and will be vital to those who go on to practice vocal percussion regularly.

The session ends with a question-and-answer session, time permitting.

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Intermediate Vocal Percussion (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants are assumed to have attended the Introduction to Vocal Percussion seminar, or to be comfortable performing simple vocal percussion techniques for an audience.

This seminar picks up where Introduction to Vocal Percussion leaves off, and reinforces its lessons.

The primary focuses of this class are improving the quality of the basic sounds, and reinforcing the rhythmic and contextual elements of percussion lines.

In addition, some of the following topics will be covered, depending on participants' interest and ability:

The session is often presented in an open-ended question-and-answer format, so as to best cover the topics of most immediate interest to the participants.

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Advanced Vocal Percussion (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants are assumed to have attended the Intermediate Vocal Percussion seminar, or to be comfortable performing sixteen bars of vocal percussion, including at least one fill, for an audience.

This seminar picks up where Intermediate Vocal Percussion leaves off.

The primary focus of Advanced Vocal Percussion is to increase the “palette” of sounds available to the participants.

However, this class is guided by the composition of its participants, and will also include some of the following:

Advanced Vocal Percussion includes some basic principles drawing from psychoacoustics and physiology.

The session is generally presented in an open-ended question-and-answer format, so as to best cover the topics of most immediate interest to the participants.

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Live Sound Reinforcement for Vocal Percussionists (45 to 90 minutes)

No previous experience needed; no scary physics or math performed.

This class gives the vocal percussionist the tools he or she needs to adjust a sound system to maximize clarity and impact. In addition, participants will gain a vocabulary for working with sound technicians who are unfamiliar with vocal percussion, to maximize his or her effectiveness.

If needed, this class will begin with a primer on the basic issues of sound reinforcement, including the frequency spectrum, principles of equalization (EQ), basic sound system design, and the role of the sound technician.

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Percussion Improvisation (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants are assumed to have attended the Intermediate Vocal Percussion seminar, or to be comfortable performing sixteen bars of vocal percussion, including at least one fill, for an audience.

If feasible, the venue should prepare a small CD player, and some participants should provide a CD of music which they enjoy and with which they are familiar.

This class is an active, participatory exploration of improvisation for vocal percussionists.

In this hour or two, we will examine the processes of composing percussion lines, of creating fills for pre-composed percussion lines, and of “freestyling,” or improvising freely.

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Studio Preparation for Vocal Percussionists (60 to 90 minutes)

This seminar is recommended for all vocal percussionists considering contributing to an album or demo.

If any participants are actively preparing an album or demo, they may be called on to perform percussion lines that are ready to be recorded in a professional studio.

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Master Class: Arranging For Drums (60 to 90 minutes)

Participants are assumed to have either attended the Intermediate Vocal Percussion seminar, or to be comfortable performing sixteen bars of vocal percussion, including at least one fill, for an audience, or to be familiar with the sound and mechanics of vocal percussion.

If feasible, the venue should prepare a small CD player, and at least three participants should provide a CD and arrangement or partial arrangement of a song they are arranging.

"Arranging" is the process by which a piece of music is prepared for all-vocal performance. In this seminar, we examine and illustrate the special challenges faced by those who wish to arrange music for any group that contains a vocal percussionist.

At least three participants who bring arrangements and CDs will leave with a written drum part which complements the rest of their arrangement.

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Vocal Percussion for Women (60 to 90 minutes)

All are welcome to be participants in this seminar. Participants will explore the myths and realities surrounding the use of the female vocal mechanism for use as a vocal percussion instrument.

Many people believe that women's voices are not well-suited to vocal percussion. This is an incorrect belief, founded in part on the reality that few women pursue this art at the present time. This seminar breaks down some of the myths surrounding vocal percussion for women with the intention of helping female vocal percussionists reach their potential more quickly.

Female participants will gain a deeper understanding of the special barriers -real and imagined-that they face as vocal percussionists, and will learn to overcome them.

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Kick-off / Wrap-up

Questions and Answers (30 to 60 minutes)

Even questions from out of left field are welcome here.

Often the last seminar of the day, this session is an open question and answer period that gives attendees an opportunity to raise issues and topics that are of interest to their group, or that tie together multiple concepts that were raised earlier in the day.

For less formal events, or for events at which most participants are not pre-registered, kicking off the day with an abbreviated question-and-answer session can help guide the days focus.