If “Pitch Perfect” was any sort of indicator, one exciting aspect of the so-called college experience is the a cappella groups. Brandeis University is home to many of these thriving performance-based clubs with names ranging from VoiceMale to To Cheap for Instruments to Up the Octave. All are known for their individual niches, as no one a cappella group is like another in terms of the type of music performed, who can become a member and other criteria. Up the Octave, for example, is the only all-female or female-identifying group on campus, and Ba’note (Hebrew for “girls”) is Brandeis’ only all-female Jewish a cappella group.
For those contemplating joining an a cappella group, one thing to recognize is that most groups are a weekly commitment. Unlike other extracurriculars, performance-based clubs oftentimes meet more than once a week.
“We practice for more than six hours a week, which is important for us to be able to learn the arrangements and sound cohesive as a group,” Madeline Black ’17 of Too Cheap for Instruments said. “Although a capella is demanding, practices are fun because they are a time for us to hang out together, sing and be creative.”
While these groups do require a considerable amount of input from the members, what is great about this extracurricular is that it is also a stress reliever. “I think that a capella has been a great opportunity to balance the stress of academic life, and singing with the other members of TCFI is very therapeutic.” Black went on to say, “I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone who loves music because a cappella is a chance to make music and bond with others over a shared interest.”
Most Brandeis a cappella members admit that joining their group helped them meet more people—many of whom became a family away from home. Time spent rehearsing is also coupled with “fun” time where members bond. The purpose of the group is not only to produce amazing music, but also to get to know each other better and on an intimate level.
“TCFI has always been like an on-campus family for me. We spend a lot of time together rehearsing, so it’s important to us that the group feels like a place that we can be ourselves,” Black said. “At rehearsals, we spend a lot of time working on our repertoire, but we also dedicate time to checking in with one another, joking around and watching funny YouTube videos.”
If you have little or no experience singing in your high school choir but always wanted to, do not fear: This is your chance to get involved in something beautiful and rewarding, both for yourself and for others to enjoy. Students with all levels of experience are welcome to audition. Black mentioned never having been involved in a cappella before college. “I never actually sang a cappella in high school. I was in my high school chorus for a year, and we were all assigned parts and told what to do by the teacher. In TCFI, we are completely independent, which makes the experience more rewarding.”
For anyone who has a keen interest in becoming part of an a cappella group on campus, every group welcomes you to audition. Below are short descriptions of each group on campus written by members:
Ba’note is Brandeis’ all-female Jewish a cappella group. The group sings Jewish and non-Jewish songs in both Hebrew and English, featuring arrangements by group members and professional composers alike.
Company B evolved over the years into a co-ed classic hits a cappella group, singing music of all genres released at least 25 years prior to the current date.
Too Cheap for Instruments is an all-female group, and its purpose is to bring folk and folk-pop music into the larger known sphere of a cappella singing at Brandeis.
Starving Artists has been delighting audiences on and off-campus since 1995 with innovative arrangements, full sound, eclectic style and infectious energy.
Rather Be Giraffes: What kind of music do we sing? Whatever we feel like singing! We’re co-ed, lots of fun and we even have a cute mascot!
Proscenium is Brandeis’s premiere co-ed, musical theater a cappella group. We feature songs from contemporary Broadway hits, both well-known and obscure. We also sing songs from famous Disney movies and internet musicals.
No Singer Clef Behind aims to create an a cappella experience for all interested students regardless of experience and ability. Whereas all other vocal performance groups on campus conduct a rigorous audition process to select new members on the basis of talent, participation in NSCB is open to all members of the Brandeis community on the basis of interest alone.
Manginah (Hebrew for “melody”) is Brandeis University’s premier co-ed Jewish a cappella group. The group’s set includes music from Jewish liturgy and prayers, American Jewish songwriters and Israeli pop songs.
Voices of Soul, a co-ed group specializing in the rhythm and melodic nature of soul and R&B music, has performed at venues ranging from Culture X to the Coleman House Nursing Home in nearby Northborough.
VoiceMale is Brandeis University’s award-winning all-male a cappella group.
Up the Octave is all-female a cappella at its best. UTO is known across campus and the Northeast for their diverse sets, on-stage energy and award-winning vocal percussion.