Contemporary Vocal Music
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 performed together for ten years 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.
To date, two of Tom's a cappella arrangements have been nominated for a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award:
2014 Nominee for Best Holiday Song: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
2019 Nominee for Best Showtunes/Soundtrack/Theme Song: "Gravity Won't Win/Defying Gravity"
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FOR BARBERSHOP VOCALITSTS
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 and has several arrangement learning tracks available from Donya Metzger. 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.
Contemporary A Cappella and Barbershop Style Samples
Female Barbershop Contemporary Pop
KeyStone A Cappella
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. Many of his arrangements are now available on Sheet Music Plus, with more titles being added regularly. If you are interested in an arrangement that is not published on Sheet Music Plus, please use the Contact form to complete the steps necessary to secure the arrangement for your group.
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 $80/hr. with discounts available for commissioning multiple songs as a set. Please note that all arrangements created for-hire are the intellectual property of each song's publishers. If the song being arranged has been licensed by Sheet Music Plus, the arrangement will be created for your group and then published online. This saves your group money, but it also means that your commissioned arrangement will be published and available to the public.
If the song that you are requesting is not in the SMP licensing library, Mr. West must apply to the publishers for a Work-For-Hire License before the arrangement can be created. 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 2 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. Your arrangement will remain unpublished and will not be made available to the public.
For any questions or to start the process of custom arranging, please use the Contact form.
Thomas J. West Vocal Music Arrangement Library
Vocal Coaching, Clinics
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