Ask Deke: High School Arranging

Q: Do you have any suggestions on how a high schooler might get started in learning to arrange music for a capella?

A: For starters, I highly recommend studying music theory, as a knowledge of the technical aspects of counterpoint and 4 part writing are so very helpful.

Beyond that, this blog I wrote long ago remains a good first step, as it trains young writers to answer big questions before little ones.

That process is the first step in my book “A Cappella Arranging”, which even though it sounds like a sales pitch remains the one and only publication on the topic.

Also know that it’s possible to arrange by ear (using a program like Garage Band or Pro Tools to overdub your voice) in addition to or in place of traditional music notation (programs like Finale, Sibelius and MuseScore). Either way, the principles are the same and the above resources are the best first steps.

If you get stuck, feel free to send in any more specific questions. Go get ‘em!

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