Avi Kaplan holds master clinic for local a cappella students to improve skills

Danielle Fannon, Staff Writer

A dream came true for Bearden a cappella students at the University of Tennessee on Jan. 30.

Students from local high schools were given the opportunity to meet and work with Avi Kaplan, the bass voice of Pentatonix, at a master clinic organized by the choir directors at UT.

Kaplan worked with the UT men and women a cappella groups and UT singers as well as high school students, who were hand-selected from their own choir directors, in order to highlight important techniques for the groups to focus on during their own rehearsals.

Students were also given parts to “Run to You,” a song written with the help of Kaplan and performed by Pentatonix, before attending the class to prepare for a performance at the end of the clinic.

“We all sang that together and it was a really cool moment to kind of see everyone come together and learn something for themselves,” Senior Anne McCall Stansberry said.

This experience has given students a new set of skills to take back to Bearden’s program, Off the Chain.

“He taught us a lot of things that helped me so I could bring it back here to our a cappella group,” Senior Tylor Sherrod said. “He taught us about how to use rhythm and how the basses and beat-boxers are the most important parts of the whole group, and they really determine how well the group flows.

“It was just really beneficial in how we work together.”

This mindset is helping students in preparing for their performance at the Talent Show, which has been postponed from its original Feb. 8 date due to the threat of inclement weather. The event has not yet been rescheduled.

When the Talent Show does take place, Off the Chain will sing “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence, a remix of  “All of Me” and “Glory,” and “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber.

Off the Chain will head to their first ICHSA competition in Florida on Feb. 13. Although this competition is open to high schools all across the country, it is mainly comprised of schools in the southeast region.

“We’re hoping to place at ICHSA this year to represent our school,” Stansberry said.

Aside from technical skill, Kaplan also inspired students to reaffirm their passion for music and performing.

“It really was like a renewal experience because I felt like I needed something to re-motivate me to get me back into pursuing what I love,” Stansberry said. “His experiences made me realize that it is a very cool experience to get into the music industry.”

Added Sherrod: “He really helped me in knowing that I really do want to do music. He said that if you can see yourself waking up and not doing music every day then you shouldn’t be doing it, and I can’t see myself waking up and not doing music.”