Grade 4 and 5 students from Carman Elementary School formed an a cappella club in September after being inspired by the film Pitch Perfect, and musical group Pentatonix. A cappella is a form of singing where no instruments are used in the background. Instead, every sound is made with the voice.
Music Teacher, Melissa Spraggs supervised the noon-hour rehearsals, but says the club was a student initiative that came from a few grade 5 students.
"To have the beat boxing included and to have the layering of vocals, that's where their first inspirations came from," she says.
Beat boxing is also known as vocal percussion, where someone uses their mouth to simulate the sounds of drums and other rhythm instruments.
Spraggs says the children delegated who would be singing, who would be beat boxing, "and they used popular songs to divide up the parts and figure out who was doing what."
"At the end of some of these noon-hour sessions they would say, 'okay, are we going to have a practice rehearsal?' And the groups would come in and sing for each other. They'd have a little performance at the end and if they were ready to perform half the song they would do half of it, and if it was only a quarter of it they'd do a quarter, but it was just getting them in front of an audience to practice that," she says.
Come December, the students had to decide whether to perform their musical acts for nursing home residents or in a competition at the school. Knowing that competitions are a huge aspect of some a cappella groups, they decided this was the route they should take.
She says, "the kids decided which staff members to approach about judging, and then all the kids came in and they performed their pieces . . . They also invited some friends to that competition, so people they knew who would support them and be a positive audience."
Roughly 25 students formed the four groups that took part in the competition.
Spraggs says, "I hope that if there's interest next fall we can do a similar club and perhaps grow on what we learned, grow and change it to build a more successful program. It was really great to see those kids performing individually, in groups, working together as a team, and figuring out problems on their own in the club."
"For some of our younger grade four students I could see the impact in the choir. We have a noon-hour choir too, so the kids that were in a cappella, I could see how their confidence was growing in the choir. That was a huge impact and really beneficial that way," she adds.