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Home > Main > Why A Cappella Singer Can’t Be Bastards

Why A Cappella Singer Can’t Be Bastards

In my post of last week I told you that I had the immense pleasure of meeting The Real Group’s Peder Karlsson before and during the London A Cappella Festival.

It’s amazing to talk to someone so deeply immersed in vocal music. As a long time member of THE European cult group he has gathered endless experience and gained a fantastic reputation as composer, teacher and mentor for young singers in vocal groups.

This blog is not the place for white-paper-length essays. So I will not even try to sum up the countless things I learnt from our London conversations. But I’d love to pass on to you one wonderful piece of insight. Something that really made me happy.

After meeting a whole lot of great vocal group members at London A Cappella’s kick-off at King’s Place, I mentioned to Peder, how inspiring it is to work with all these fantastic musicians and fine people. Shortly after Peder agreed, it came across my mind that this is probably just a stroke of luck: Among hundreds and thousands of members of a cappella and vocal groups, I guessed, there must be some buggers, some two-faced guys, well…some bastards.

“Not true”, said Peder. “They wouldn’t survive.”

“Why that?” I asked and he replied: “It’s very simple: You can’t sing together, if you think this guy next to you is an a**hole.”

That’s was one of these rare moments of insight: Heureka, as the Old Greeks would have said. The moment when our synapses link and this amazing biological process in our brains leads to this “Yes-of-course-this-makes-perfect-sense”-feeling.

Isn’t it wonderful to turn this insight around? Singing in a group, creating and experiencing music as a common process simply does not allow you to be an idiot: Singing and music improves people’s social abilities. People open up, develop basic social skills like empathy, cooperation, the ability to listen.

Working as an agent for some of the best a cappella groups of the world has always been an honour. Thanks to Peder Karlsson, my job now has a whole new dimension. We should try to help as many people as possible to get the vocal/a cappella experience and make them  sing in an a cappella group. This could be much more than a purely musical project: This is a wonderful social project.

Is my experience similar to what you experienced as a singer, promoter, arranger etc.? Don’t keep it to yourself: Write to me at or post a comment right here at Vocal Blog! I’m looking forward to you contributing to Vocal Blog.

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  1. 14. Februar 2010, 20:39 | #1

    Florian and Peder
    Yes, I agree, there’s no way that you can sing in a small group without total trust in each member to take responsibility for their own part. That’s not just the words and notes but the presentation, admin, turning up on time with the right outfits and equipment etc etc. Not pulling out of rehearsals because a better offer came up. The benefits far outweigh the responsibilities and commitments! Long term (often lifetime) friendships grow out of singing together in a small group. The awkward characters soon drop out!

    I have been directing an a cappella choir (18 -24 members) for seven years and I can say without a shadow of doubt that taking part in a choir rehearsal lifts your spirits, benefits your health and can provide the opportunity for others to benefit as well. You cannot sing multi-part harmony and dwell on your problems at the same time.

    Jean Digby
    Chairman, Sing A Cappella!

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