Senior Monique Lonergan, junior Heloise Schep, sophomore Joanne Tsai, junior Larkin Barnard-Bahn and sophomore Nate Leavy practice unifying their voices during one of the a cappella club's practices in the recording studio. (Photo by Harrison Moon)
Aca-scuse me?! A cappella club starts regular practices, attracting singers from various backgrounds
With only two members last year, the a cappella club was far from what junior Larkin Barnard-Bahn had imagined when she started the club. It was nowhere near the picturesque group from “Pitch Perfect,” a 2012 movie that featured a cappella groups, who sing without instruments, using just their voices to make those sounds.
The club was started in the middle of last school year. Because of this, many students were unaware of or unable to attend any meetings, according to Barnard-Bahn. But Barnard-Bahn used last year as a trial run to see how she would run the club this year. She tested out songs with the only other member, sophomore Nate Leavy.
“(We) were just seeing what it would be like and practicing a couple songs we were thinking about singing next year,” Barnard-Bahn said.
When the a cappella club began in late September, six new members joined, bringing the group’s total to eight.
Most of the members are from the school’s choir or have a background in singing, like Barnard-Bahn, who has sung for the Sacramento Children’s Chorus.
Barnard-Bahn said that some members joined the club for a new opportunity to sing or because they had promised they would join.
Senior Monique Lonergan, who has been singing since she was 7, decided to join because she wanted to try a new style of singing.
Sophomore Brian Chow, who hasn’t sung since leaving the Sacramento Children’s Chorus two years ago, joined because he promised Lonergan and Barnard-Bahn he would.
The club used to meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7:30. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the club now meets on Monday and Thursday mornings.
During rehearsals, the students go over separate parts and melodies. Rehearsals usually start with warm-ups and then practicing songs, according to Lonergan.
“What’s most important about (a cappella) is singing your part and knowing how the song goes,” Leavy said.
Also during practices, the singers focus on part-holding.
“Part-holding is an important part of a cappella because you don’t have any instrument to keep you on key. You have to keep your part,” Barnard-Bahn said.
According to Barnard-Bahn, a cappella is harder than normal singing because there is no instrument to follow. And because the a cappella club doesn’t have any beatboxers, who mimic percussion instruments with their voices, it is even harder for the singers to stay on beat.
All the members sing words, but sometimes, students sing background vocals with syllables like “loo.”
The club has three first sopranos, two second sopranos, one alto and one bass but is still missing a tenor.
Unlike last year, the group will both perform and record songs, Barnard-Bahn said.
“I am hoping to perform at the winter concert in the library,” she said.
“And then I’m hoping to do something at the end of the year, whether we decide on entering a local competition, doing a performance or recording a song.”
According to Barnard-Bahn, the club will sing “When I Fall in Love,” arranged by Kirby Shaw, at the winter concert. However, that’s not the only song it has practiced. The club has looked over “Cups” from “Pitch Perfect” and “Royals” by Lorde. Barnard-Bahn also hopes to take the club to Hellacappella, an a cappella concert held at the Mondavi Center.
“It would be great for them to watch these amazing groups, which are a source of inspiration for me,” Barnard-Bahn said.
—By Arijit Trivedi
At 10:40 a.m. this story was edited to clarify that sophomore Brian Chow had done choral singing in the past.