Here's a great approach: hold a contest/show, with prizes awarded to the music programs of particpating schools. Hats off to Center Point Choruss of Sweet Adelines!
Get ready for a little bit of "American Idol," "The Voice" — or any other live singing competition — all rolled into one a capella competition.Center Point Chorus Sweet Adelines, a women's barbershop group, is hosting the event, a two-show competition on Saturday at The Theater@1800 formerly Sentry Theater.
In addition to performances by the chorus and Maxx Factor, the quartet judging the contest, four central Wisconsin schools are vying for cash prizes that will go to their respective music departments: Wisconsin Rapids Assumption High School, Nekoosa High School choir, Pittsville High School choir and Stevens Point's P.J. Jacobs Junior High School choir.In addition to garnering funds for the schools, half of the proceeds will be split between the Breast Care Center at Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital, Stevens Point."We were looking for a way to share our love for a capella singing and barbershop harmony, in particular," said Kathleen Harris of Babcock, director for the Center Point Chorus Sweet Adelines, adding she was 16 when she joined a barbershop group in Racine. "We want to bring this American art form to our youth."Assumption High School is entering a barbershop quartet — which they named Deffault, with a double "f" for double forte, a musical term. Deffault includes Becca Hartley, 16, junior, lead; Emily Faivre, 17, senior, tenor; Elaina Stoffel, 18, senior, bass; and Emilie Keuntjes, 16, junior, baritone.Although the group has been together for about a year and placed first at state solo ensemble, this is their first out-of-school competition, said AHS choral teacher, Julie Stoffel."This is a new way to sharpen their skills," Stoffel said. "It was great fun, because it was a musical challenge."Being in a quartet offers different challenges from a group choir."Everything that you have to do in barbershop has to be bigger than you would normally do," Elaina said.Another difference is they have to carry their own part — when standing close to each other, as opposed to being in an entire section in choir, Becca said. Barbershop quartets often are very expressive in their movements and actions, as well."I find it hard to maintain a good facial expression through the whole song," Emilie said.Practicing outside of school has bonded the girls, Emily added.The show also will include set from guest quartet Maxx Factor, who will judge the high school groups, and DreamRide, a Sweet Adelines chapter quartet. Maxx Factor was part of "The Sing-Off Live Tour." The finale will include all the participants, with more than 100 singers on stage.Half of the votes for the contest will come from Maxx Factor, and half from audience. The students will go home with no less than $200 for their schools between the two shows, and as much as $500. The public is encouraged to attend and vote for their school.