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DL's first-ever summer vocal camp starts Monday

Are you an aspiring singer, who will be entering grades 7-12 in school this fall? Have you ever watched a capella (vocal, non-instrumental) bands like InPulse, Four Shadow, Marcoux Corner and Tonic Sol-fa perform and thought, 'I want to do that too'?

If your answer to those questions is yes, then this is the opportunity for you: InPulse has teamed with Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre this summer to offer a Vocal Music Camp for aspiring singers in grades 2-12.

The three-day camp, which starts Monday, still has openings for the afternoon session, which is for older kids in grades 7-12. (The elementary group, for grades 2-6, which will be at the theater every morning, is already full).

According to InPulse vocalist Matt McDonald, the camp is an opportunity for aspiring singers to learn not only how to sing using proper technique -- all four members of InPulse are classically trained -- but also how to perform contemporary acapella, also known as vocal band style.

"We'll be teaching them healthy singing techniques, using classical fundamentals, and from there, we'll teach a little bit about arranging music as well as vocal percussion, or mouth drumming," explained McDonald.

After that, the students will be put into vocal groups and taught how to harmonize together as well as to select songs. Finally, they will begin rehearsing for a special concert where they will perform with InPulse on stage at the Holmes Theatre on Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m.

"We're looking to put on a fantastic show Wednesday night," McDonald said.

Though this isn't the first vocal music camp that InPulse has been involved with, it is the first time the quartet will be conducting a camp in Detroit Lakes.

McDonald said the project grew from a visit the group made to Detroit Lakes last year, for an evening performance at the Holmes Theatre. During the day before the concert, they worked with local middle and high school students, teaching vocal techniques and performance.

In talking with the staff at the Holmes Theatre, McDonald said, the group learned that they were seeking to expand summer arts opportunities in the lakes area, and the vocal camp idea grew from there.

McDonald said that when they first got together, the art of contemporary acapella music -- which included vocal percussion or mouth drumming -- was just starting to be developed.

They were amazed by how much the sounds produced by the human mouth could sound like actual drumming.

As they began touring together, the foursome decided that they wanted to do their part to expand the art of vocal band music across the country.

And so they started to become involved with music camps like the one they're starting in Detroit Lakes this week.

By the end of the camp, McDonald said, the goal is to get the students to go out and create a vocal band of their own.

"It's a hobby they can create and continue to work on after we leave," he said.

The group -- which is currently the No. 1 most-booked touring vocal band on the college circuit -- typically performs about 120 shows on the road each year, teaching as many prospective vocal band artists as they can along the way.

"One of our mission statements is to put the art of acapella into mainstream music," McDonald said.

So far, he added, it appears to be working. "The industry (i.e., the total number of performing vocal bands in the country) is a lot larger than it was a few years ago."

McDonald said the Detroit Lakes vocal camp is one of "the last round of camps" that InPulse will be doing this summer, as they will resume their regular touring schedule this fall.

Anyone in grades 7-12 who might be interested in signing up for the vocal camp should contact the Historic Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-SHOW (7469) to enroll.

The cost of the three-day camp is $45 per student. You can also call the box office for more information on Wednesday night's show.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454