When you’re a kid, it can be hard to get people to listen to you. However, if you’ve just been taught the basics of beatboxing, all you’ll need to do is plug in a microphone and you’ll soon have everyone’s attention.
Young, dynamic, and well-known to their fans and other artists nationwide, the members of the a cappella group “Backtrack Vocals” are down-to-earth enough to enjoy their time visiting schools and showing young audience members new ways to use their voices.
The five New York City residents did their traveling the day before and were well-rested the morning of November 14 when they began their work at Sippican School. Coordinating with music teachers Patricia Richard (choral) and Hannah Moore (instrumental), the singers led a workshop in which participation and expression were key.
Aside from creating audio recordings and videos of their meticulous work, Backtrack’s musicians have made teaching a feature of their appearances when they go out on the road.
“We really enjoy the chance to interact with the kids,” said Mallory Moser, soprano of Backtracks. “It’s one of our favorite things to do.”
Teaching the beatbox basics to kids as part of the show, Johnny Buffalo commented, “We don’t have to give them much instruction before: we are just watching what they come up with.”
Jojo Otseidu sings bass and has been performing and directing a cappella for years. He is humble about the cheers he gets in response to his booming notes.
Melissa Jordano is the alto singer of the group and echoes the sentiments of her colleagues.
“Sometimes we spend a whole day or just part of a day [at a school],” said Jordano. “We have to go back to New York tonight, but we had a great time doing shows [locally] in the past few days.”
Meanwhile, the group coils yards of cable and packs their gear without missing a beat.
Between classroom time and an energetic onstage performance, Backtrack Vocals left the students and staff of Sippican Elementary School with some new skills and an appreciation for a cappella music.
Sippican School’s “All School Meeting” often features a theme or message that educates or touches on the sensibilities of students. Sometimes the ASM features a special guest (the Owl Lady) or a performance (New Bedford Symphony Orchestra members, New Bedford Ballet dancers). Many appearances are facilitated by V.A.S.E. (Volunteers At Sippican Elementary) and coordinated with the faculty of Sippican School.
By Erin Bednarczyk