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 😛
For all the Greenies who have had this experience, you know what I’m talking about:
One of the best collection of hours spent at the University of Michigan is without a doubt, the late hours spent with Greenies, talking about life, love, happiness, random middle school crushes, what you wanted to be as a little kid, and etc. Although those hours may prevent us from writing that essay or studying for an exam, its times like those that really help Greenies open up with one another and share parts of their lives that they don’t normally get a chance to in rehearsal. Basically, it’s like a mini-retreat with the exception of every group member being there.
Therefore, in an attempt to get to know and share the personal side of me and other Greenies in our twenty-person mega-A Cappella group, I would like to spend those late nights at Bubble Island, Amers, Pizza House, my apartment, their apartment, or wherever in Ann Arbor. My favorite areas (once it gets warm) include the Arb, parking structure rooftops, places I’ve never been before, the Fleetwood, the Wavefield on North Campus, and Borders. I would love to spend more time with each and every one of you before people graduate and before I miss out on some great opportunities and people :).
Good night and good luck and happy heart day!
58 Greene is made up of a diverse group of people. Each member brings something new from usually somewhere new, and the group learns to understand each other in various challenging ways. With different personalities and backgrounds added into our melting pot family, Greenies help to learn from each other as well as to teach each other on a day-to-day basis.
However, a lot of the lessons learned and taught are not necessarily musical. Sure, we learn a thing or two from each other in improving our performances on stage, but personally, I have learned so much more about different people and how a small community of strangers can come to love one another so dearly. From the retreats and rehearsal in the beginning of each semester, Greenies have an uncanny ability to open up to each other, be affectionate with other, and be honest with each other without the fear of being judged. It is a community – no, a family – of people who strive to become more personally attached with people they never knew before, not because they have to, but because they genuinely care and want to.
To me, being a Greenie not only means singing with the best-of-the-best on Michigan’s campus, but allows me to love people who I may have never had the chance to love before. Whether it is through the music or just being able to personally get in touch with other Greenies, the group allows for me to reach out and understand different kinds of people and with genuine care. From our little traditions that are passed down, to the everyday stories we share with one another, Greenies helps me to be a better man by teaching me the importance of creating new and timeless friendships.
In my opinion, it is nearly impossible to be taught “how to be a Greenie”. It cannot be lectured about or read from a textbook, but rather, it is something that Greenies learn from each other and the semesters they spend together. Being a Greenie is made up of the countless experiences of laughter, stress, joy, tears, weekends, and rehearsals that we all share with each other every week.