A Cappella

A Unique Perspective

Tom grew up with barbershop quartet music ringing the walls of his home. Tom's dad, Jim West, was an active singer, arranger, judge, and coach for the Barbershop Harmony Society (formerly SPEBSQSA) and sang with many quartets and choruses over the years, most notably The Alumni, who were Seniors International Silver Medalists in 1999. During this time, Tom was also exposed to The Singers Unlimited. Gene Puerling's vocal jazz orchestrations permanently altered the sonic landscape, which continued in college at Penn State with Tom transcribing Take 6 tunes by ear and delving into the rich musical performances of The King's Singers.

Tom was musical director of The Dreamers of Phi Mu Alpha at Penn State and produced their second album. He sang with various pickup groups at PSU, most notably Out of Nowhere, Gin n Tonix, and he served as music director for The Pennharmonics for one semester.

After his undergraduate days, Tom took a long break from contemporary a cappella to begin his instrumental music teaching career and start a family. He returned to a cappella in 2009 when he began singing with The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia. Tom became the organization's first (and only) Director of Education for 8 years, providing educational workshops and coaching for singers from high school to adult all over the greater Philadelphia area. Tom also met (or in some cases was reunited with) the singers that still perform together today as KeyStone A Cappella. Tom has served as a judge for several a cappella competitions, including the ICHSA, and has written hundreds of arrangements for both contemporary a cappella and barbershop harmony.

Due to Tom's experience in both the barbershop harmony genre and contemporary a cappella, he is particularly suited to creating custom arrangements for barbershop groups who want to sing more contemporary repertoire. Most notably, Tom has been arranging for several choruses and quartets from Harmony, Inc. and the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers. Tom's most popular all-female arrangement to date is his setting of "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman. This fully-licensed arrangement is available to choruses and quartets worldwide. Contact Mr. West to obtain a copy.

A Cappella Samples

Female Barbershop Contemporary Pop

KeyStone A Cappella

KeyStone A Cappella

Vocal Arranging

Thomas J. West A Cappella Arranging Workshop
Leading an a cappella arranging workshop session

Tom's vocal arranging began in his dorm room at Penn State in the early 1990's. He currently has over 100 vocal arrangements to his credit, with 10 to 30 new arrangements being crafted per year. In most cases, prior arrangements are no longer available with the exception of "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman (SSAA barbershop). This arrangement is available through Tresona Music for a licensing fee in the $200-$250 range. Mr. West can create a new version of prior arrangements if groups apply for a new license. Mr. West's fee for the use of pre-existing arrangements is $50.00. Please use the Contact form for questions or to begin the process.

A Note About Copyright

Mr. West is available as an arranger for-hire for both barbershop style and contemporary a cappella custom arrangements. His current rate for custom arrangements is $300, with discounts available for commisssioning multiple songs as a set. Please note that all arrangements created for-hire are the intellectual property of each song's publishers. This means that Mr. West does not own the rights to these arrangements and must apply to the publishers for an Adaptation License every time that the arrangement is used by a new group. Mr. West can not sell you prior arrangements without a new license.

You are hiring Mr. West strictly on a for-hire basis to create an arrangement that has received proper licensing prior to beginning work on the arrangement.

Mr. West can apply for a license on your behalf if you live in the United States, Canada, or the UK, or you can pursue a license yourself in your geographic region (Australia, for example). A typical license can take from 1 to 6 weeks to acquire, and may incur additional fees from the publisher ranging from $0 to $250. Please allow as much lead time before you need to begin to rehearse the song with your ensemble. Mr. West can not, under any circumstances, send you a full copy of an arrangement to begin rehearsing until the adaptation license has been granted and all fees paid in full. Mr. West will provide a copy of the arrangement to the rights holders as requested.

Once all licenses have been acquired and fees have been paid, Mr. West will craft your custom arrangement in two weeks and deliver it to you electronically. Your license will legally allow you to create a fixed number of copies of that arrangement for the use of your vocal ensemble and can not be transferred to any other ensemble without further authorization.

For any questions or to start the process of custom arranging, please use the Contact form.

Vocal Coaching, Clinics

Thomas J. West Vocal Coaching
KeyStone A Cappella coaching the Haverford College Outskirts

Nothing helps a vocal ensemble improve like a one-on-one session with an experienced masterclass clinician. Mr. West enjoys working with contemporary a cappella and barbershop harmony groups of all ages, abilities, and experience levels. A partial list of past clinics and workshops includes:

  • Beginning and Advanced Music Directing
  • Beginning and Advanced Vocal Arranging
  • Beginning and Advanced Music Theory
  • Promotion, Booking, and Social Media
  • ICCA and ICHSA Competition Design and Coaching
  • Lead Vocalist Solo Interpretation and Techniques
  • Visual Presentation, Blocking, Choreography
  • Microphone Technique and Performing on Sound Equipment

Tom has produced, hosted, and managed several notable vocal educational events, including:

  • CASA's VoCALnation Festival 2013 in Philadelphia
  • The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia Winter Workshops 2010-2016
  • Project-Philly's Arrangers Academy program (veteran arrangers coach one-on-one with new arrangers)

He has been a presenter, clinician, or performer at the following:

  • CASA's VoCALnation Festivals 2012, 2013
  • CASA's Boston Sings Festival 2014
  • Personal coaching for High Street Harmonix (West Chester U.), The Suspensions (West Chester U.), The Pennharmonics (Penn State U.), The Haverford College Outskirts, After the Bar, Up the Octave (Cheltenham HS), Sons of Pitch (Cheltenham HS), The Baldwin B-Flats (The Baldwin School), The Liberty Belles Barbershop Chorus, and many others...
  • Online coaching for arrangers, directors, and full groups via Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
  • Vocal arrangement coaching/consulting
Thomas J. West Vocal Coaching
Team coaching with KeyStone A Cappella at a Project-Philly Winter Workshop
Thomas J. West Vocal Coaching
Masterclass coaching with High Street Harmonix

Rates for coaching, clinics, and consulting varies by event. Please use the Contact page to begin discussing your next event.