A Cappella Groups Auditioning New Members
by Kat Feary on Friday, October 11th, 2013
As usual for the start of the school year, Milton’s four a cappella groups have been holding auditions. Made up of two all-girls groups, Epic and Octet, one all-boys group, Miltones, and one co-ed group, 3FU, Milton’s a capella program contributes a great deal to the performing arts scene. Meeting once a week, these groups are favorites at school functions, such as Boarder Dinner and revisit days, and bring a unique flavor to life at Milton.
The groups’ returning members always look forward to this time of year and the search for fresh blood. For some groups, the process of selecting new singers is especially difficult due to the number of returning singers. Francesca Ely-Spence (I), a head of the eight-member a cappella group Octet, says that this year’s auditions process “will be especially hard for Octet since we only have one spot.” Most tryouts begin with a solo audition, during which the auditioner sings for 2-3 members of the group. During these auditions, the singer is tested on his or her vocal versatility. Claire Russell (I), head of Epic, says that her group begins “by testing the singer’s range and how good of an ear the person has.” Auditioners must then demonstrate more specific skills, such as controlling volume, finding the middle note of a chord, and repeating patterns back. After these first rounds, the best singers are brought back for callbacks.
During callbacks, potential performers take part in a normal group rehearsal. Claire believes that “the whole group is present for callbacks. We teach them a part of the song we most recently performed and see how fast they can learn it and how well they fit in.”
However, the Miltones conduct their tryouts a little differently, by jumping straight to judging group chemistry. Corey Schwaitzberg (I), head of the Miltones, compares their initial auditions to other groups’ callbacks: the auditioner learns a part and performs with the existing group. Thus, the other Miltones can immediately determine how well the potential group member fits in.
In addition to high quality singing, these groups are also looking for specific qualities in its auditioners. According to Claire, “groups usually try to have a good balance of people in each grade so when a class graduates, the whole group doesn’t graduate.” In addition, these a cappella groups require both high and low voices.
Overall, the audition process considers a variety of factors in the performance, including skill and character of a potential singer. “It’s all about creating a unified group,” says Sydney Park (I), a member of 3FU. “When we get along better, we sound better.”
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