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Harmony reaches new heights: an interview with Rather be Giraffes

If you’re itching to get involved in the a cappella scene at Brandeis, Rather be Giraffes (RBG) may be just what you are looking for! The Hoot sat down with RBG’s president, Morgan Collens ’26, to learn more about this high energy group of dedicated singers.

Though one of the newer a cappella groups on campus, RBG was founded over 20 years ago. The group consists of 17 committed members with a passion for song. “We rehearse for seven hours a week, and we try to perform around five times a semester … At the end of the semester have a semester show,” Collens explains. The group is open to singing practically any genre of music. “We’ve done pop music, a lot of indie stuff, new wave, but … it’s all based off the interest of the group.” For example, right now the group is rehearsing “For the First Time” by Mac Demarco and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Collens also shares that they are performing a Britney Spears medley for their own personal solo. “We arrange all our own stuff. It’s a really big learning curve but if you have the passion and the drive and willingness it’s really fun.”

“Our semester shows are really silly,” Collens says. “We pick a movie or TV show and we basically butcher the script to be just barely recognizable. We make it Brandeis related.” During the showcase, the group uses their song titles in their script which acts as a transition for their performances, which makes for many fun and memorable moments and lines.

In order to allow for a well polished show, RBG members have to commit to plenty of practice time. “Monday through Friday we have two two-hour rehearsals and a three-hour rehearsal on Sunday,” Collens states. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The meetings are low-stress and fun. “We have the first 15-ish minutes for check-ins. Everyone goes around and says something about their day, how they’re doing, or something funny that happened.” The group members also talk about any business or logistical issues. What’s more, these rehearsals create an unbreakable bond that is shared among the group members. “We give people space to share something if they want to share … because it helps foster this connection and it helps people know they are cared about.”

After this, the members warm up, participate in sectionals and run through their songs (each song is given at least three rehearsals). According to Collens, most of the time is spent “learning the music, running through it, [practicing] the dynamics.” However, there is always time for the group to loosen up a bit during practice. “Even while we’re doing work … we do enjoy having fun. One of my favorite parts is when we do a fun run!” Collens notes that the group has sung songs in “Southern accents” or pretending to be “a medieval boys choir.” “We like to do stupid stuff because most of the time a cappella is silly! Why not embrace that?”

After being in the group for a semester, members even have the chance to sing their very own solo. “Everyone recommends songs and they pick their top five, audition them for the group, and we pick which one of those five fits best.” The group picks based on how it sounds for their voice, how it relates to the set and if the song is “acappellable.” Collens does note however that “the most important part is if someone has a vision. With ‘For the First Time,’ the person that arranged it had a vision and wrote an incredible arrangement.”

In addition to the semester show, Collens shared that “the a cappella community has started up Acappellooza,” an event where all the a cappella groups on campus come together to put on a day full of performances. This was especially exciting to Collens because the event had been put on a temporary hold. “It happened last semester for the first time in at least a few years … it was really fun and a lot of people showed up. I’m really excited to see what it looks like this year.”

Above all, Collen’s favorite part about being a Giraffe is the connections they have been able to form. “Some of my best friends are people I met through this group. When I’m having a bad day … I know that if I can just make it to RBG rehearsal I’ll be okay,” they say. “I feel so passionately about the community we created. And I think it translates really well into our music!” As president, Collens hopes to make Rather be Giraffes a more well-known name on campus and spread their joy to others through their performances. They share that the group has been working hard on improving their “sound quality, arrangements and energy.” Being a larger a cappella group can come with its own challenges as well, but Collens believes that they use it to their advantage, and that the group sounds quite good. “I want Brandeis to see that we like each other so much…it’d be cool if more people got to share that joy,” and Collens hopes to “[continue] the legacy of [RBG] alumni.” 

All in all, the group made sure to say “We’d rather be giraffes! You should too.” If you are interested in becoming a Giraffe, feel free to follow their Instagram @ratherbegiraffes for information about upcoming shows, auditions and general silliness. And don’t forget to book your free ticket to attend their semester show on Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center theater!

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