In the fall of 2010, The A Cappella Blog invited every collegiate a cappella group we could find to participate in a survey. Our objective was to develop a better understanding of current trends in a cappella—what groups are or are not doing and to what degree.
Over 300 groups from across the US and abroad responded to the survey. Throughout our 2010 publication season, we will review results from this survey and talk about what our findings mean. We welcome and encourage groups to look over the information to learn, to benchmark and to satisfy their own curiosity.
This edition’s question: How many different vocal percussions did your group have last year?
Of the groups surveyed, just over 55 percent reported that they have two-to-three vocal percussionists. Overall, over 93 percent of groups indicated that five or fewer of their members do percussion for them, including over five percent of groups who indicated that no one does percussion for the group at all.
It’s interesting to note these statistics in juxtaposition with our finding on the number of soloists each group had. While more than half of most group’s members get solos, a far smaller percentage ever pick up the perc mic. There can be a number of reasons for this. For one, vocal percussion is a specialized skill, and one that it can take some real dedication and time for someone to learn to do. Furthermore, unless you’re exceptional at what you do, drumming isn’t necessarily the most glorious role to take on stage, and so there may not exactly be new members clamoring for it. Finally, I’ve been personally acquainted with groups that brought in a member or two for the specific purpose of drumming. Such members didn’t necessarily have the singing chops to be in the group otherwise, but played their roles well, and so had that dedicated role for just about every song for their tenures with the group.