The House Jacks are among the world’s leading a cappella educators, providing extensive coaching worldwide to scholastic and professional groups alike. With pioneering teaching methods in all aspects of a cappella music, performance and recording technology, The House Jacks are the secret ingredient to a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.
The House Jacks Masterclass
Our most popular workshop format is the Masterclass, where a group performs for all the attendees, and then our clinicians work with the group to improve their musical and visual performance. All styles and levels are welcome to perform as part of the masterclass, as the topics covered universally relate to groups and singers. We can do this on weekdays or as part of a weekend workshop.
Weekday Mentorship Program
We love coming in and sharing our professional experience with students from Kindergarten to College. Generally the mentorship program consists of our attending your classes, performing a little, sharing the group’s story, and then taking questions. We can customize this to fit your specific needs, but think of it as your students’ opportunity to Ask The Experts.
Sing-Off Weekend Workshop
Another of our most popular offerings, we will come to your school or venue on a Friday, coach and mentor groups during the day and adjudicate a “Sing-Off” style concert competition that night. On Saturday, we do a full day of workshops and masterclasses custom-built for you and headline a concert that night. The best part? The winning group from Friday night’s Sing-Off will open for us! We can customize further for more workshops on Sunday, and we have strategies and tactics we can share with you for raising the funds and inviting school groups and choirs from across your district, region, or state to participate.
This often goes hand-in-hand with our weekday mentorship program, but it is exactly what you’d expect – a fully-engaged performance as a student assembly. We’ve done a million of these, so if you want help planning or organizing it, just ask!
Custom Package Build
Seminars to choose from:
We offer a wide variety of seminar topics that address the musical and non-musical aspects of a cappella. Feel free to choose a combination of any of these topics, and we’ll work with you to put them in a cohesive order, and choose the most appropriate lengths for each.
Contemporary A Cappella Arranging: There’s a huge international audience that loves contemporary a cappella. Glee, The Sing-Off, and Pitch Perfect have introduced the world to a cappella the way it is now. Contemporary a cappella arrangements feature sounds, rhythms and textures that differentiate it from barbershop, doo wop, close harmony, and other a cappella styles. Learn how to arrange from the band that exemplifies contemporary a cappella.
Advanced A Cappella Arranging: There are few places in the world to study music arranging, and even fewer that offer any instruction on arranging a cappella. This seminar will offer ideas and discussion topics to further develop the skills of advanced a cappella arrangers.
Arranging Critique: This is an opportunity for arrangers of all levels to bring a copy of their arrangement to be sung by the seminar attendees and then discussed and critiqued in an open forum.
Solo Delivery: Singing a solo is more than just technique. It involves an understanding of the material, emotional commitment, the support of your ensemble. Bring the lyrics for a solo to this workshop, and we’ll analyze, discuss, and practice being “in the moment” when you sing.
Development of Style: So you’ve sung the standards, and know many other group’s biggest songs. Now what? Learn how to take your group’s unique strengths and interests and build them into a style that’s all your own. We’ll address musical style as well as visual and performance style. Before you know it other groups will be singing your songs!
Managing Rehearsals: The nitty gritty issues that sometimes make you crazy: teaching notes vs. using learning tracks, how many songs per rehearsal, attendance management, sectionals vs. group rehearsal, number of rehearsals (regular and before major gigs), how much warm-up time, what kinds of warm-ups, when do you allow mistakes to happen and when do you stop and fix them, rehearsal discipline (use of other leaders as “enforcers” for rehearsal discipline, and balancing fun and musicality.
Performance Presentation: A vocal music performance is about much more than just singing. How do you greet the audience? What are you wearing? How do you move during songs? How’s your show paced? This seminar will address the aspects of performing on stage besides singing, and will increase your both your and the audiences enjoyment of a concert.
Composition: Many people write music, but few do it with an understanding of the strengths and challenges of an a cappella group. Learn the fundamentals of songwriting, and how to craft a piece of music that will make the most of your “instrument:” the human voice.
Music Direction: The role of director is the most important and influential within a group. It combines elements of musician, leader, organizer, consensus builder and conductor. Learn techniques and tips that will help you maximize your rehearsal time and minimize friction between singers.
Group Dynamics: The loudmouth. The quiet one. The organizer. The flake. Using materials and techniques developed for the corporate world, learn how groups interact, and how your ensemble can understand each other, minimize friction, and work together in harmony to create harmony.
A Cappella Business and Management: We all wish we could just sing, have concerts fall in our laps and money show up in our bank account. This seminar will cover a wide range of topics that will help you streamline your business and focus on your craft, including legal structure of your group, leadership, division of responsibilities, benefits and problems having an agent and/or manager, etc.
Starting A Group: There’s no need to learn the hard way! From conceptualization through your first performance, we can tell you the best way to find members, run auditions, structure your group, build a quick repertoire, and start performing.
Improvisation: Vocal music isn’t all about arrangements and vocal parts; Most world cultures have a tradition of a cappella singing that relies on nothing but your ear and your voice. 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.
Producing an Album: from pre production to recording to mixing, to mastering and manufacturing, learn how to make a professional vocal music recording.
Singing Instruments: 10 years ago, a cappella singing was mostly “bum” and “doo.” Now, people sound like drums, guitars, horns, and a myriad of other instruments. Learn how to use one or many voices to sound like instruments, and work them into your arrangements.
Introduction to Contemporary A Cappella: What is “Contemporary A Cappella,” and where did it come from? Learn about the current scene by tracing the roots of pop a cappella from barbershop music through doo wop, and comparing both styles to the contemporary sound.
Beginning Vocal Percussion: One of the most notable elements of contemporary a cappella, vocal percussion has become an essential element in presenting a dynamic, current sound with nothing but voices. Learn the fundamentals of this skill, weaving together bass drum, snare and high hat to provide a compelling groove, and begin to explore some additional sounds like cymbals, shakers, and wood blocks.
Advanced Vocal Percussion: Explore the nuances of drumming and how to introduce those elements into your vocal percussion technique. Focus is on sound production/quality, nuance, groove and mic technique.
Sound Check & Basic Tech: Too often a great a cappella group’s performance is hindered by imperfect amplification. Learn the basics of microphones, monitors, sound boards and EQ’s, and how to avoid the most common pitfalls and have a productive sound check, resulting in a great amplified performance.
Close Harmony Blend: As singers, we all want the best blend possible. But how? By looking at the 4 elements of sound (pitch, duration, loudness and timbre), discover how you can improve your group’s blend.
Competition Tips: The International Collegiate A Cappella Competition. The Harmony Sweepstakes. It seems that one of the best ways to make a name for yourself in the a cappella community is to compete. Find out what many groups before you learned the hard way: how to put on a great performance during a competition.
Recording Contemporary A Cappella: Overview of the steps from conception to completion. Learning the tools. Understanding the process. Exploring the techniques. Putting it together (bring a rig in and actually record a small piece with the participants).
Editing A Cappella Recordings: Demystify the editing process, beginning with a review of how editing functions in the scope of the recording process. Go in-depth with the tools to demonstrate the process with a focus on how singing better makes for a better recording.
Beginning Body Percussion: Learn how to use your whole body as a percussion section, creating exciting rhythmic textures for your music as well as dynamic choreography to energize your live performance.
Co-operative Games: Building group cohesion. How to create harmony in the group. How to understand and work with power dynamics and conflict in your group.
Cultivating Musical, and non-Musical Listening: Harmony, both inside and outside your musical life, comes from good listening. This focuses on how to be a better listener and how to ask better questions. The better you listen, the better your music will be.
Creating Connection: We all know it’s incredibly important to rehearse well in order to perform well. Many singers and groups spend countless hours working on the musical and technical aspects of their performance and little-to-no time working on a key element of their live performance: connecting with the audience. Learn how to bring life to your music and establish a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your audience and one another.
Question and Answer (Q&A): 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.