So I know that a lot of people out there in the A Cappella and singing community overall have seen or heard of the hit TV show series, “Glee”. If you haven’t, it is a show about a high school “Glee Club” that sings at regional and national competitions while managing the usual, as well as the overly dramatic, challenges of high school students.
In the show, the cast has their song learned and ready to run in a matter of minutes and the production and rehearsal that goes into their numbers are highly overlooked. I know this is an obvious statement, but it has brought unrealistic expectations and images of what a “Glee Club” versus “Show Choir” versus “A Cappella” groups are.
In the show, the so-called “Glee Club” is more like a show choir in the sense that they have a band accompaniment, along with a lot of production of lights, choreography, and props that go along with their performances and rehearsals. A traditional “Glee Club” is more along the lines of formal choral ensembles and choirs. As a member of the University of Michigan’s Men’s Glee Club and its own legacy of 151 years today, I can vouch on behalf of all my fellow clubbers that Glee Club is nothing like the show, “Glee”. Traditional Glee Clubs sing traditional choral music rather than heavily accompanied pop tunes and top-40 hits. Although what our Glee Club sings may not be as popular in a mainstream sense, our repetoire of Biebel, Sibelius, Thompson, and other great choral composers makes our Glee Club of 100 dudes sound like something you’ve never heard before.
And now, about 58 Greene and the type of music we do: we have a song selection process each semester to pick out which songs we can do by using only our voices. Whether it is transforming the instruments in a song to our voices and imitating the sounds they make, or adapting a completely new and creative way of performing/singing a piece, A Cappella music is quite challenging but exciting. We take all different genres of songs, new and old, and try to add our Greenie kick to whatever we can. Whether that includes our soloists, dynamics, a little bit of choreography here and there, or just a simple snap, Greenies work hard to change a song from pianos and guitars to male and female voices and percussion.
So the next time you’re invited to a “Glee Club” concert, don’t expect your performance to include hairography, shiny dresses, and belting soloists 😛