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Contemporary Vocal Ensemble

Music and Performing Arts Professions Ensembles

Do you love singing lead and want to learn more about what to do onstage when performing contemporary genres as the lead vocalist? Are you an instrumentalist who loves playing contemporary genres and wants to learn more about playing in a band where a singer is the lead instrument?

The Contemporary Vocal Ensemble teaches singers* the skills needed to excel at performing lead vocals in different contemporary genres e.g. pop, R&B, rock, hip-hop, country, reggae, etc. Each week, we will work on making each singer a more professional, confident, relaxed, and compelling lead vocalist by working on how to choose a song; choosing a key; genre-appropriate stylization; movement; storytelling and the acting part of singing; microphone technique; stage fright; and interfacing with musicians, sound engineers, crew, and more.

The Contemporary Vocal Ensemble teaches instrumentalists how to work in an ensemble setting with different lead singers in various contemporary genres. Instrumentalists and singers learn how to effectively communicate with each other, how to really listen to each other when performing, genre appropriate stylization, movement on stage and more. Each week we work on making each instrumentalist a more professional, confident, relaxed and compelling performer who works well with others.

Who Can Join

Vocalists and instrumentalists who pass the audition can join.

Audition Information

Wednesday, January 29, 2020, from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm in the Education Building, 35 West 4th Street, room 778. 
Sign up for an audition time.
You can take the class for 0-1 credits.

The audition will consist of you singing a verse and chorus (and a bridge, if the song has one) from:

  1. One uptempo, really fast song. By uptempo/really fast, we mean a dance tempo (150 BPM) but not necessarily a dance song. Examples are: "Heartbreaker" (Pat Benatar), "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (Whitney Houston), "Firework" (Katy Perry).
  2. One ballad or medium tempo song.
  3. One song of your choice to be sung a cappella.

You only need to bring TWO things to your audition: A lead sheet or sheet music for EACH of the songs that you perform with the piano accompanist.

Band Audition

Friday, January 31, 2020 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Third North, 75 3rd Ave (corner of 11 St), room C216. Email: for a time slot to audition by letting me know what your instrument is AND what your major is.

We’re looking for piano, bass, two guitar players and a drummer for a five-piece rhythm section to accompany the lead singers in this class.

Players will receive 0 -1 ensemble credits and get experience playing different contemporary genres.

Players need to sight-read, transpose, and play chart/lead sheet in a different key than it is written in, listen to reference track and quickly figure out what to play live (w/ or w/o chart), and find a groove and have fun! Not expecting perfect players; looking for players who are willing to grow. Additionally, we’re looking for players who will have patience with the learning process that the singers will go through.

Lead sheets/chord charts will be provided at the audition. Bring your instrument. Guitarists, bring your pedal board if you have one. Drummers, bring cymbals. Piano players, just show up!

Rehearsal/Class Information

The class meets on Fridays from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Third North, room C216 (11 St and Third Ave). Singers and instrumentalists are required to attend all classes, practice outside of class and perform at the sound check and final performance in the Loewe Theater on a date at the end of the semester TBD (5:00 pm soundcheck/rehearsal; 8:00 pm show).

Performances and Concerts

TBD (5:00 pm soundcheck/rehearsal; 8:00 pm show) at the Loewe Theater (Education Building 35 W 4 St, ground floor).


The class is taught by veteran singer Janice Pendarvis.

Contact Information

Instructor: Janice Pendarvis (
Vocal Performance Admin: Scott Allen (

MPAVP-UE 1181.010
MPAVP-GE 2181.010

*Singers: This is a non-traditional ensemble. You will not be singing with the other singers. You will be working one at a time on lead vocal performance skills in a band with student musicians.

Related Ensembles

Background Vocal Recording Techniques

This ensemble teaches the skills needed to excel at singing contemporary background vocals in small groups for recording.

Village Voices

We will play with the voice as an instrument, teaching you how to own a swing feel, bossa nova, backbeat, bebop. We want you to find your solo sound within the group ensemble framework and vice versa. The ensemble is small because we want essentially one on a part and a chance for you to stand on your own two vocal chords.