With the hit-show Glee and the ever-popular Pitch Perfect, a capella has recently become incredibly popular. Here at Boston University, we have over ten groups, ranging from an all-male group to a Jewish group to a Hindi group.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to make it onto a team and actually be in an a capella group, here’s your chance. A few members of various a capella groups spoke of their experience being part of the world of singing.
First comes the audition, in which you get to try out for any group you want. With so many groups, most plan to stick around CFA to hit up all the groups.
Sunayana Basa, a freshman, tried out for Suno, a Hindi-based a capella group.
“The process was pretty simple. They asked us to go through scales and then asked if I had any questions. It lasted about 15 minutes,” said Basa. “For callbacks, we spent about two hours there. They gave us a part of a song they did last year to learn.” Basa explains that she had to learn about 11 pages of music that day. She then performed the piece both as a group, and individually with the members of Suno. Luckily, she ended up getting a phone call two days later with the acceptance.
As for actual practice, Olivia Koterska of Aural Fixation, an all-female group, gave some input.
“Practices usually start off with warm-ups, which consist of scales, vowel exercises, and other vocal warm ups. For the rest of the practice, we go over the sheet music for our songs,” said Koterska. “There are four parts to the song in addition to the solo: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. If the song is new in our set list and we need to practice it, then we will break apart into sectionals. Then, we get back together as a group and run the song as a whole.” If this sounds like a lot, there’s even more. They discuss their mistakes and ways to fix them. Afterwards, they repeat this process with about seven songs in their set, making for a total of three hours of practice. With how good these a capella teams are, it’s no wonder that so much time goes into rehearsal.
This time commitment is difficult, but as with all activities, it is all about time management and not being lax on finishing homework. By effectively using time, members of these groups are able to stay on top of their work and perform well.
Basa stresses that previous experience isn’t always necessary. “I can’t read sheet music. This is the first time I’ve ever done something like this, but they [Suno] were all so welcoming. I’ve heard horror stories about upperclassmen being mean, but they’re just so friendly and welcoming.” Instead of something out of a horror story, older members of Suno offered to work with her and tutor her in order to make sure that not being able to read sheet music was not a hindrance.
Here’s just a taste of what a capella groups are like behind the scenes. If you’re at all interested, look into trying out for these teams in the spring!