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Thomas J. West Music

Live webcam private music lessons, music education articles, compositions, clinician services, reviews

A Cappella

In addition to a full-time career as a music educator, Thomas J. West has been singing popular music in close harmony since his youth. Tom's father, Jim West, is a long-standing member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Tom spent many a Tuesday night "tagging" along with his dad to meetings of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of SPEBSQSA in the late 80's. Tom founded his own quartet as an undergrad at Penn State University called Four The Glory, which was one of the performing ensembles that was part of the Alpha Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. One of the other ensembles from the chapter was Penn State's first contemporary a cappella group, The Dreamers of Phi Mu Alpha. The Dreamers began as 50's doo wop singers and transitioned under Tom's directorship to a contemporary a cappella group during the 1990's. It was with The Dreamers that Tom discovered Take 6, The Bobs, Rockapella, The Blenders, Five O'Clock Shadow, and the King's Singers. Tom already had a love for Gene Puerling's multi-tracking quartet The Singers Unlimited before arriving at Penn State, but his love of close harmony really took off as he transcribed Take 6 tunes by ear in his dorm room and wrote arrangements for The Dreamers. He also served as musical director of The Pennharmonics for one semester and sang with various pick-up groups, most notably Gin 'n' Tonix, Section 8, and Out Of Nowhere.

Upon graduating from college, Tom took a necessary 10-year hiatus from singing to begin his teaching career and start a family. He began singing again in 2009 when he joined the summer groups offered by The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia. He also joined the board of directors as their Director of Education, creating educational opportunities for Project members as well as singers from all over the greater Philadelphia area. Past clinicians have included Barry Carl and Jeff Thacher of Rockapella, Amy Engelhardt of The Bobs, Tom Anderson, The Vocal Company, and Benjamin Eldon Stevens. Past featured performer/clinicians have included Element, Snowday, Cartoon Johnny, and KeyStone A Cappella.

Tom's a cappella worlds collided when singers from Project-Philly who also sang with him at Penn State put together a group to shoot a video audition for season three of NBC's The Sing-Off television program in April of 2011. KeyStone A Cappella was not cast, but was off and running. A proud member of CASA's Contemporary A Cappella League, KeyStone has competed in the Harmony Sweepstakes competition, opened for The Bobs, The Groovebarbers, and Ball In The House, and served as hosts for The Contemporary A Cappella Society of America's VoCALnation Festival in Philadelphia in 2012. KeyStone released their debut album and Christmas EP in 2014 and continues to perform regularly.

A Unique Perspective

Tom has a unique perspective on today's contemporary scene because of his background in barbershop, contemporary a cappella, and instrumental music. While contemporary a cappella is his primary area of interest, vocal jazz finds its way into the mix, as well as the strong homophonic leanings of the barbershop style. The result is an arrangement style that blends elements of all three genres, a coaching style that emphasizes not only musical excellence but artistic delivery, and workshops designed to educate and empower attendees to take their musical endeavors into their own hands.

Barbershop organizations will find that Tom can easily help them bridge the gap into more contemporary repertoire using the skill sets and strengths of barbershop harmony. Contemporary a cappella organizations will find that Tom's varied experience will help them develop interesting and engaging performance sets that communicate with a wider audience.

Recent Video and Audio

A Cappella Awards and Noteworthy Accomplishments

2012 Harmony Sweepstakes participants: KeyStone A Cappella

2012 VoCALnation A Cappella Festival - featured performers: KeyStone A Cappella

2013 The Princeton Festival - featured performers: KeyStone A Cappella

2013 VoCALnation A Cappella Festival - hosts and featured performers: KeyStone A Cappella

2013 KeyStone A Cappella opens for The Bobs and The Groovebarbers

2013 Recorded A Cappella Review Board: 5 out of 5 for my arrangement of "Frosty the Snowman" LINK

2014 KeyStone A Cappella Nominated for six Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards LINK

Clinics, Coaching, and Masterclasses

Tom also regularly coaches a cappella groups in private sessions and presents workshops at a cappella festivals and other educational events. Visit his Clinics page for details.

Tom coaching the West Chester University all-male group High Street Harmonix - January 2015

Tom (in the back) and members of KeyStone A Cappella coaching the Haverford College Outskirts - February 2017

Tom leading a panel presentation on Intermediate/Advanced Arrangement Techniques for Contemporary A Cappella Groups at the A Cappella Winter Workshop, February 2017


"We are thrilled with the arrangement, as always.  You bring an exceptional combination of technical excellence, creative depth and originality to every arrangement you do.  Further, your prompt attention and professionalism makes working with you on these projects such a pleasure.  Thank you, Tom; we look forward to working with you again in the future!" - Sara Clevenger, Surefire Quartet, Toledo, OH

"We have worked with Tom several times and it's always a blast. It's good to bring in an outside perspective to work with the group and Tom keeps it fun and informative. He gives tips for improvement on sound, arrangement and stage presence all while keeping it within an appropriate expectation for the ability of the group, which means that each time we have worked with him the experience has been helpful in new ways. His help and input have been a big part in The Suspensions formation and direction, especially when we first started out. He even gave us the idea to do a spring break tour which is now one of our biggest and most anticipated events of the year!" - Ben Hood, Co-founder of The Suspensions Male A Cappella Group, West Chester University

A Cappella Arrangements List

Below is a mostly complete list of a cappella arrangements that Tom has crafted since he first began in 1993. In the future, Tom will also be listing his father Jim West's extensive barbershop arrangement library.

All voicings listed are for the background parts only. Soloist voicings typically match the voice range of the original artist. 

All of these arrangements listed were either created expressly for performances at major universities that have verified their payment of live performance royalties or were paid for via either the Harry Fox Agency or for the creation of a compulsory/mechanical recording license for either digital download, interactive streaming, or compact disc creation.

1993 "Let the Words" (Take 6 - direct transcription) TTTBBB

1993 "Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Wind" (Singers Unlimited - direct transcription) SATB

1993 "Carol of the Russian Children" (Singers Unlimited - direct transcription) SATB

1993 "Gimmie Some Lovin'" (The Blues Brothers version) TTBB

1994 "Happy Days" (TV Theme) TTBB

1994 "One More Night" (Phil Collins) TTBB

1994 "Warmth of the Sun" (Beach Boys) TTBB

1994 "Sea of Love" (Phil Phillips) TTBB

1994 "Since You've Been Gone" (Weird Al Yankovic) TTBB

1994 "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (Thurl Ravenscroft) TTBB

April 1995 "I Only Have Eyes for You" (The Flamingos) TTBB

July 1995 "Kodachrome" (Simon & Garfunkel) TTBB

July 1995 "Lullaby" (Billy Joel) TTBB

July 1995 "M.L.K."  (U2/King's Singers) TTTBBB

September 1995 "I Could Write a Book" (Rodgers/Hart) TTBB

September 1995 "You Needed Me" (Anne Murray) TTBB

January 1996 "Come to My Window" (Melissa Etheridge) SATB 

October 1996 "Don't Ask Me Why" (Billy Joel) TTBB

November 1996 "Dancing Bear" (Doug Nichol) TTBB

August 1996 "The Rain Song" (Led Zepplin) TTBB

August 1996 "Sailing" (Christopher Cross/The Blenders) TTBB

August 1996 "Summer In the City" (Lovin' Spoonful) TTBB

February 1997 "I Can See Clearly Now" (Johnny Nash/The Trenchcoats) SATB

August 1997 "Carry On Wayward Son" (Kansas) TTBB

September 1997 "William Tell Overture" (Rossini) SATB

March 1998 "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (Savage Garden) TTBB

March 2000 "Your Horoscope for Today" (Weird Al Yankovic) SATB

March 2009 "Do I Do" (Stevie Wonder) TTBB

March 2009 “Overjoyed” (Stevie Wonder) TTBB, SATB, SSAA

March 2009 “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) TTBB

March 2009 “Time Stand Still” (Rush) TTBB and SATB

March 2009 “Love Potion Number 9” (The Clovers) TTBB and SATB

March 2010 “Into the Mystic” (Van Morrison) TTBB

March 2010 “Charlie Brown” (The Coasters) TTBB and SATB

March 2010 “Rock With You” (Michael Jackson) SATB

May 2011 “Philadelphia Freedom” (Elton John) SATB

May 2011 “Witch Doctor’s Good Lovin’ Coconut” (mashup) SATB

May 2011 “Alone” (Heart) SATB

May 2011 “Beautiful” (Christina Aguilera) with Amy Howe SATB

May 2011 “Rhythm of Love” (Plain White T’s) with Amy Howe SATB

May 2011 “Drive” (Incubus) SATB

June 2011 “Erased” (Annie Lennox) SATB

June 2011 “Heaven” (Bryan Adams) SATB

August 2011 “We Are The Champions” (Queen) SATB

August 2011 “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” (Coldplay) TTBB

September 2011 “Last Christmas” (Glee Cast) SATB

September 2011 “Express Yourself This Way” (mashup Gaga, Madonna) SATB

September 2011 “Everlong” (Foo Fighters) SATB

September 2011 “Someone Like You” (Adele) SATB

September 2011 "Frosty the Snowman" SATB - This arrangement received a 5 out of 5 review by the Recorded A Cappella Review Board

September 2011 “Jingle Bells” (Barbara Streisand) SATB

September 2011 “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” SATB

October 2011 “Super Bass” (Nicki Manaj) SSAA

October 2011 “Brighter than the Sun” (Colbie Caillat) SSAA

February 2012 “Somebody to Love” (Queen) TTBB

February 2012 “Saving All My Love for You” (Whitney Houston) SATB

February 2012 “Rhythm of Love” (Plain White T’s) SATB

March 2012 “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” Simon & Garfunkel SATB, TTBB

April 2012 "Be True to Your School" (Beach Boys) SATB

May 2012 "Wide Awake" (Katy Perry) SSAATB

June 2012 “In Your Eyes” (Peter Gabriel) TTBB

July 2012 “Yoda” (Weird Al Yankovic) SATB

August 2012 “Every Heart That Is Breaking” (Twila Paris) SATB

August 2012 “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Traditional SATB - This arrangement was runner-up for a CARA award for Best Holiday Song 2015

September 2012 "Gummy Bears Theme Song" (Disney) TTBB

January 2013 "Baby, I'm For Real" (Marvin Gaye) SATTB

February 2013 “In Your Light” (Gotye) SATB

February 2013 “In Your Eyes” (Peter Gabriel) SATB

February 2013 “Sway” (Pussycat Dolls) SSAA

March 2013 “Mirrors” (Justin Timberlake) SATB

March 2013 “Fast As You Can” Fiona Apple SATB

August 2013 “Zombie Jamboree” Rockapella SATB, TTBB

August 2013 “In the Still of the Night” (Five Satins) TTBB

August 2013 “Sleigh Ride” (Leroy Anderson) SATTBB

October 2013 “I Choose You” (Sara Bareilles) SATB

October 2013 “Wonderful Christmastime” (Paul McCartney) SATB

February 2014 "War (from the Catching Fire soundtrack)" Hypnotic Brass Ensemble SAATB

February 2014 "Counting Stars" (One Republic) SSAA

March 2014 “Good Riddance” (Green Day) SATTBB

March 2014 “Back to the Future Overture” SATB

March 2014 “Hip to Be Square” (Huey Lewis) SATB

April 2014 “Happy Together” (The Nylons) SATB 

April 2014 “Ordinary World” (Duran Duran) SATBB

June 2014 “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie) SATB

July 2014 “Merry Christmas, Darling” (The Carpenters) SATB

August 2014 “One and Only” (Adele) SATB

August 2014 “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (Traditional) SATB 

August 2014 "Comes and Goes" (Greg Laswell) SSATTB

March 2015 "I Can't Get Next to You" (The Temptations) SSAA

March 2015 "Somewhere Only We Know" (Lily Allen) SSSAAA

March 2015 "Blue Eyes Blind" (ZZ Ward) SSAA

April 2015 "What a Wonderful Word" (Eva Cassidy) SATTBB

April 2015 "When I Fall In Love" (Nat King Cole) SATTBB

April 2015 "ABC / I Want You Back" (Jackson 5 mashup) SATB

April 2015 "White Cat" (Cheryl Wheeler) SSAA

May 2015 "Brave" (Sara Bareilles) SSAA

June 2015 "Geronimo" (Sheppard) SSAA

June 2015 "Honey, I'm Good" (Andy Grammer) SSAA

October 2015 "Alive" (Krewella) SSAA

November 2015 "Stepping on the Clouds" (The Hoppers) SSAA

December 2015 "When We Were Young" (Adele) SSAA

January 2016 "Both Sides, Now" (Joni Mitchell) SATTB

February 2016 "S.O.B." (Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats) SSTTB with vocal percussion

February 2016 "The Grateful Deadley (Attics of My Life / Ripple / Brokedown Palace)" (The Grateful Dead) SATTB

May 2016 "I Love You Suzanne" (Lou Reed) SATTB

May 2016 "The Way You Look Tonight" (Frank Sinatra) SATTB

August 2016 "Allentown" (Billy Joel) SATTB

August 2016 "Carol of the Bells" (Traditional, based on a version by The Bird and The Bee) SATB

September 2016 "Fight Song" (Rachel Platten) SATB

April 2017 "Killing Me Softly With His Song" (The Singers Unlimited - direct transcription) SSSSATB

April 2017 "Whenever I Call You Friend" (Kenny Loggins, Stevie Nicks) SSAA

May 2017 "Can't Stop the Feeling" (Justin Timberlake) SATTB

August 2017 "Hello, Unstoppable" (Adele and Sia mashup) SATB

Legal Usage/Creation of Arrangements

In Title 17 of the United State Copyright Code, musical arrangements (considered derivative works) are legal only when:

  • the song being arranged is in public domain; OR
  • the arranger has the explicit permission of any one of the song's composers/publishers to make the arrangement; OR
  • the song arrangement is created specifically to be recorded under a compulsory license, AND the arrangement IS recorded, AND proper royalties are actually paid in accordance with section 115.

The statutory language of section 115 says "A compulsory license [to make a sound recording] includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work, and shall not be subject to protection as a derivative work ..., except with the express consent of the copyright owner."

To be in compliance with US Copyright Code, all arrangements, whether listed above or created on commission, must be recorded under a compulsory license and distributed publicly. Thomas J. West will acquire the necessary compulsory license and work with you to produce a recording that is in compliance with section 115. This recording does not have to be a "studio recording" of the arrangement - it can be a live recording of a performance of the song, a recording made during a rehearsal, or a multi-track recording created on your behalf by Thomas J. West. In most cases, the recording is released as an interactive stream on or a similar streaming service.

If you are interested in using any of these arrangements for a future performance, or if you are interested in Tom creating an arrangement for you to produce a publicly-released recording, please fill out the Arrangement Request Form below.

Arrangement Request Form

Thank you for your arrangement request. Tom will be in touch withing 24 hours to discuss specifics. Please add tomwest732000 at yahoo dot com to you contacts list to avoid his reply going to your spam folder.
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