By Kelly Haberstroh
[Photo retrieved from W.A.V.E.’s Facebook]
The Wellsville A cappella Vocal Ensemble known as W.A.V.E. will be competing in the International Championship of High School a cappella (ICHSA) on Feb. 27, 2016, in Guilderland, New York.
The ICHSA quarter finals features 150 high school A cappella groups competing across the country. If the group advances to the semi-finals, they will compete in Wakefield, Massachusetts, against two other schools. To advance to the final round in New York City, they must place first to represent the United States in the international competition.
W.A.V.E. performed as the opening act for Bonacoustics, St. Bonaventure University’s A capella group, on Nov. 18 during their second annual fall showcase.
Cody Hampton, Wellsville High School vocal music director and founder of W.A.V.E., organized the A cappella group in 2011. When he was first hired at Wellsville High School, there had W.A.V.E. existed; however, it was not an active group.
“The group initially met once in a while, and they performed with accompaniment,” said Hampton. “There were no auditions, and no one got cut. Now it’s more elite and they have to cut people.”
Now rehearsing three days a week, Hampton is drastically transforming the group. To Hampton, the purpose of the group for the students is to “create a culture of high expectation and get them to take the group on their own and creating themselves.”
With an increase in student interest, middle school students were not allowed the join that year; there was a separate group started for them the year after.
Each year, the number of groups enterting the competition increases. “High school A cappella is tranforming around the country,” said Hampton.
Hampton is confident in the quality of the video that they submitted and their chances of advances to the semi-finals.
“Just because you’re from a small school doesn’t mean you can’t win,” Hampton. To him, this competition helps W.A.V.E. to see what other schools are capable of so that they can further grow as a group.
They plan to hire a custom arranger for the competition who will organize their set list to ensure they perform well. Normally, Hampton and his students arrange the songs; however, for this competition, they felt it would be beneficial to hire a professional.
As a student who competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, it was a goal of Hampton’s to start a high school group when he became a teacher.
When he began rebuilding the group as their adviser, W.A.V.E. performed at various locations in the community and recorded a CD to try to get their name out to the public and the A cappella scene.
When Hampton reintroduced W.A.V.E., there were not many students interested. Initially, the group was open to both middle and high schoolers.
“Once the group got established, more kids were interested in it,” said Hampton.
To ensure that the group was held to high expectations, at the end of their second year, Hampton created a set of rules to be integrated into the group atmosphere. According to Hampton, they sat down and looked up the A cappella by-laws for Harvard University, and they based their own off of that model. With every year, the group amends the by-laws to keep the expectations current.
Now that the group is more developed, it is very student driven. There are five elected officers who take on a variety of responsibilities that include: song selection, attendance, fundraising, running social media pages, maintaining accurate record of sales and gigs and documenting attendance. However, if there is a decision that impacts the entire group as a whole, and they feel that everyone deserves a say, the decision becomes open to the entire grop.
“I have to do less because it’s run by them. It’s so self-driven that I feel like for me, I do a lot of the behind the scenes stuff,” commented Hampton.
Stay tuned on The Intrepid for updates on W.A.V.E.’s journey to the ICHSA.