There is an unmistakable purity in a capella vocals. Considered one of the oldest forms of music, it is also uniquely American.
Compare a capella to photography. There is color, and there is black and white film. A color photograph is filled with distractions along with mild confusion. The viewer misses details, and the eye glides over minor mistakes. Black and white, on the other hand, is unforgiving. It’s all there. Every blemish. Every dime-sized spot that’s fuzzy but should be crisp. There’s no place to hide in black and white.
A capella singing is the same. There are no places to hide. There isn’t the sound of guitars or horns or drums or pianos to dart in and cover-up, or absorb, a mistake. It’s impossible to corral a wrong note, even if it’s slight. This is why each group member must have the other members’ backs, knowing how to stand alone as well as together.
A capella is definitely alive and well at Argyle ISD, and occupies one of the six distinct groups making up the school’s choir program. The a capello portion of the program came about in 2017, with the addition of the groups Flight and Remedy.
Flight is a contemporary group with students from all grades, who have previous choral singing experience. They frequently perform at Argyle choir functions, but, unlike Remedy, they do not compete. Membership requires a solo audition. Flight encourages students to step outside their comfort zones, to stand on a stage, and be comfortable behind a microphone. Even though there are no competitions, Flight challenges its members and encourages them to fly to new levels of confidence.
Remedy is the name of a class within the school’s curriculum. It meets every day, practices extensively (sometimes before classes even begin, as well as on weekends), has mostly juniors and seniors as members, competes in several events, including national finals, and even records and releases albums.
Evan Ramos took over as choir director last year. He entered North Texas to major in music composition, but the influence of a choir director inspired him to switch.
“I’ve enjoyed my teaching so much,” Ramos said. “Here, at Argyle, I have six different groups, which make it like six very distinct jobs. I have to be flexible and realize the methods that work for one group may not work for the other.
“My predecessor deserves huge credit for our success. He was the one who started both Flight and Remedy from scratch. The a capella groups turned into a huge draw for students. Each group became a tight community of kids who depended on one another for tempo and all the other ingredients of a capella. They must be willing to make mistakes, but also realize they’ll never be laughed at or pounded on because of it.”
The dedication of the young members is amazing, and it carries over to the parents, faculty, and outsiders who hear them perform.
“Choir is fun. It’s super inclusive. It’s family,” Bethany Pabst, mother of Levi, who belongs to Remedy, said. “You can be anything and still be in choir – a nerd, an athlete, a scholastic star. Anyone can come and belong if you show up and sing as well as you can. It’s also a beautiful way for new kids who moved here from a different school to fit in.”
Remedy is strongly student-driven, including choreography creation and song suggestions.
“Some of these students intend to pursue music to a higher level,” Beth continued. “They’ve received an excellent foundation during their time in the Argyle choir program. They know they are family, and family is everything. They are the ones who coined that slogan. They believe it, and they act on it.