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Andy Pacer '15

SUNY Potsdam alumnus Andy Pacer ’15 seemed right at home during a recent visit to The Crane School of Music. Sipping coffee in Helen M. Hosmer Hall, he would confidently rise to greet his sound crew or student workers helping with the Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). As a student at Crane, Pacer competed in the ICCA event every year with the Potsdam Pointercounts, but now he was seeing things from the other side as the producer for the ICCA central region. As producer, he is responsible for overseeing five quarterfinals and one semifinal a cappella competition with a total of 46 groups.

During his time at SUNY Potsdam Pacer spent countless hours singing with the Pointercounts, ultimately paving the way for this new position where he oversees the largest collegiate competition in the world. His senior year at Crane he was the president of the group, leading them in a dominant quarterfinal performance, beating the second-place team by 90 points.

We were “like the 1980 miracle hockey team. We had the chemistry and we had a good plan.” To say he took the a cappella group seriously is an understatement. When he first joined the group the seniors told him, “we treat this like a professional group, we want to market ourselves as professionals.” He thoroughly embraced that approach, so much so that even one of his professors questioned whether he might be overextending himself. He forged on, balancing a cappella, a job and all of his undergraduate coursework. “I’m going to keep rocking and rolling and see what happens,” he said while reflecting back on the balancing act.

The Pointercounts were an integral part of his music education, but that was in addition to his heavy work load as a music business student at Crane. One of the highlights of the program was his trip to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show where he worked as an intern for Samson Technologies. “That was an incredible experience. If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about it, it’s like Christmas for people who love music equipment and music products. It’s a massive convention of every new gadget they have, and we get to be right in the center of it.” He said that Crane really allows students to immerse themselves in the NAMM experience. “You’re a part of it, you’re not on the outside looking in.”

Another influential experience at the College was a class he took with Dr. Jennifer Kessler. Her principals of music education course really helped to shape the direction of his undergraduate coursework. “It was one of my favorite classes, just from the learning experiences and the projects and things that we did.” He said that she helped guide him down an educational path more in line with his aspirations.

But without alumna Charlene Brooks ’03, he might not have even heard about The Crane School of Music. Brooks was Pacer’s music teacher throughout middle school and high school in West Seneca, NY and she planted the bug in his ear when he was in 7th grade. “I loved my orchestra teacher (Brooks), she was fantastic, she was so good at what she did and she just had a great approach to it.”

He had a lot of respect for Brooks and after touring SUNY Potsdam and passing the audition, he decided to attend. “My overall intention for coming to Crane was that I love music so much, I respected the art and I wanted to know more about it.”

Pacer has been out of school for less than two years and he has already been an events coordinator at Canalside in Buffalo, an events manager at the Sheraton Hotel and he is currently the producer for Varsity Vocals. Additionally, he is teaching voice and piano lessons at a music store in Oneonta.

His advice to current students is to “take chances, don’t necessarily be comfortable with what you’re doing at all times. Reach out there and do something that gets you out of your comfort zone.” He said that his “experiences at Crane and at Potsdam were awesome. I met so many amazing people.”

Andy Pacer '15