A-ca-scuse me? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know the fierceness that is a cappella. From Glee’s Warblers to Pitch Perfect’s Barden Bellas there’s just something about making music with your mouth that captivates us all. If you dream about getting your Fat Amy on in an award-winning group then you’re in luck. CM has compiled a list of the top a cappella schools in the nation. Time to start warming up your vocal chords and hit the stage.
10. Virginia Tech
While Virginia Tech is known for its background in the sciences, it’s also home to six a cappella groups. With many groups like Juxtaposition and Naturally Sharp competing in the ICCA (International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella) it’s safe to say that Virginia Tech is one of the up and coming hubs of a cappella. “It is obvious to our audience that not only do we enjoy performing, but that we also are a brotherhood that is excited to perform together every time,” said Nizar Zahed, vice president of Naturally Sharp. Grab your bags and head on out to Virginia to start making history. Who knows, you might even form the next biggest a cappella group.
9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Do you ever imagine what winning a Grammy award would be like? Groups at UNC have gotten pretty darn close to it by winning multiple CARA’s (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards) AKA the Grammy’s of the a cappella world. Plus, the popular all-male group, The Clef Hangers, have performed all over the world and were even featured on Good Morning America. And let’s not forget about the ladies. The premier all-female group, The Loreleis, are named after the mythical sirens that lulled sailors off to their death with their enchanting voices. They clearly have enchanting voices since they’ve won multiple CARA’s and competed in the ICCA. Talk about girl power.
8. Brigham Young University
BYU is certainly no stranger to a cappella with many of its groups competing in the ICCA. If you watch the The Sing-Off, the American Idol of a cappella, then you might remember Vocal Point. The group competed in the third season with fun numbers like “Footloose.” They even made Justin Bieber songs bearable (no easy feat). With multiple a cappella groups on campus, BYU is overflowing with talent, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie. “The symbolism behind harmony and the necessity to create a unified sound really brings people together and I think people are starting to recognize what a unique experience it is to be involved in a cappella music,” said Vocal Point director, McKay Crockett.
7. Tufts University
With groups like the Beezlebubs and the Jackson Jills hitting the stage for over 50 years, Tufts University is known for its rich history in a cappella. It’s also home to eight diverse groups; impressive for a school of only 5,000. “My favorite aspect of a cappella is that it’s a fun collaborative musical experience. Every person is essential and has much to add. Plus, since our hands are unoccupied by instruments, we are free to move around and be goofy! It’s a lot of fun for us and for the audience,” said Jordon Abosch, business manager for the Beezlebubs. You might have heard The Beezebubs before from The Sing-Off’s 1st season and from their backup vocals for The Warblers on Glee. Expect to hear much more from Tufts University.
6. University of Chicago
Whatever type of music you’re in to, University of Chicago is bound to have an a cappella group for it. Currently there are seven groups covering pop, folk, Christian and everything in between. One of the standout groups, Voices In Your Head, is basically a cappella’s version of Beyoncé with multiple CARA and ICCA wins and adoring fans everywhere.”Our goal is to turn each song into a complete artistic experience that is musically, visually, mentally and emotionally stimulating,” said Mason Heller, president of Voices In Your Head. If you want to join the ranks with these award-winning groups then you know where to send your applications.
5. Yale University
Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl may have told us everything there is to know about her dream school, but she left out deets on the the incredible a cappella. With 15 groups on campus, a cappella has become a trademark of the Yale experience. The oldest group, The Whiffenpoofs (seriously, how cool is that name?), started in 1909 and are now the world’s oldest and best-know collegiate a cappella group. Oh, yeah, they’ve also competed on The Sing Off and ICCA. Smart and talented, not bad, Yale, not bad.
4. Columbia University
Columbia has a huge music department, housing nine different a cappella groups. If there’s something these groups value it’s diversity. The singers come from all walks of life and form these unique groups with each one specializing in a different genre. Two of the most popular groups include Notes & Keys and the Clefhangers, both of which competed in the ICCA multiple times. As if that weren’t enough they’ve also won nine special awards at the ICCA since 1996. The big apple might be full of stars already but Columbia’s a cappella groups are on well on their way to joining the big leagues.
3. Vanderbilt University
If you’re looking for a campus that loves and supports its a cappella community then look no further. With over ten groups performing, there’s no denying a cappella is a major part of Vanderbilt. “We try to collaborate with other groups and promote each other as much as possible, so it’s a really creative and supportive atmosphere,” says Austin Lyons, vice president and business manager of the Melodores. The Melodores made collegiate a cappella history last December by becoming the first cappella group to win The Sing-Off. But these guys don’t let fame get to their head. “We’re still 14 guys who love to make music, push the boundaries of our genre, and touch as many lives as we can,” said Lyons. Here’s to one of the most genuine groups in a cappella today and the university that loves the art almost as much as we do.
2. Berklee College of Music
It should come as no surprise that Berklee College of Music snagged a spot on this list. After all, it’s the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. And yes, their a cappella groups are awesome. Pitch Slapped took first place at the ICCA this past year. They’ve also competed on The Sing-Off, so yeah, they’re pretty good. This group coined the term “Pitch Slapped” way before the Pitch Perfect franchise.
1. University of Michigan
Home to a whopping 16 groups on campus, the University of Michigan is quickly becoming the capital of collegiate a cappella. With many of its groups competing at the ICCA and performing at festivals across the country, it’s no wonder why everyone’s becoming a fan of a cappella. “I would argue that the University of Michigan is the top university for collegiate a cappella, if you’re looking to find the perfect group for you, if you’re looking for a strong community of talented musicians and if you want to see a huge diversity of different styles and techniques of performing a cappella,” said Noah Collins, vice-president and business manager for The G-Men. The G-Men have even performed for the Obamas at the White House. Okay, seriously, if Obama is a fan of your group, you’re doing something right.