The rehearsal began like any hangout between a group of friends. The ladies of Women’s Blue and White, a 5C a cappella group, filed in one by one, hot tea in hand, music sheets in the other. There was a lot of catching up, joking around, and even fruit juggling. The bond between the members was immediately evident.
“The best part about being in a cappella is the community,” said Miranda Mattlin PO ’21, Women’s Blue and White member. “When someone in my group asks me how I’m doing, they really want to know how I’m doing.”
As soon as Kelly Ragsdale PO ’18, president of Women’s Blue and White, called the rehearsal to begin, everyone shifted to their game face — and like clockwork — the warmup began. There was no tuning or note-matching needed. Their voices complimented each other beautifully, the resulting sound incredibly harmonious.
After warmups, the group began planning for upcoming events, most notably their performance during Family Weekend (Feb. 16-18). They decided on a repertoire that combined some of their classics from past years and a few new arrangements of modern songs. Even in the midst of their discussion, the environment was highly laid back. The singers made jokes and occasionally burst into song.
Naturally forming a circle, Women’s Blue and White began to practice their first song, “The Love Club” by Lorde — a signature for the group, who had already performed the song at multiple performances. It sounded flawless to me as I sat in the corner of the room. But even then, members were discussing which parts of the singing to fix, determined to perfect their sound.
“Everybody here is so passionate about music,” Ragsdale said. “It’s awesome because we get to share that passion with so many people.”
When it came time to do a practice performance, the singers gathered around me and two other members who were seated in the audience. Musical Director Lilly Sterenberg PZ ’20 soloed in an upbeat performance of “Be the One” by Dua Lipa.
The arrangement was powerful, full of ups and downs in tempo and energy, and the melodies bounced perfectly off the walls. It was a completely different feeling from when I heard Women’s Blue and White at Southern California A Cappella Music Festival (SCAMFest) last semester. The auditory experience of a cappella in a small enclosed space eliminated any concerns about losing any sound in a large auditorium.
The group concluded the rehearsal by breaking off into sections and practicing their individual parts. It was all routine. There was no “horizontal running,” no wrestling, nor any other shenanigans that I had seen in “Pitch Perfect,” the popular comedy about a women’s a cappella group.
Members of Women’s Blue and White also agreed that the general public’s view of a female a cappella group was often exaggerated and extremely different from the reality — at least from knowing their group.
“Some think that the environment would be catty or people would be hostile about solos, but it’s the opposite,” Megan Chang PO ’21 said. “Everyone is extremely nice, and all decisions are made very democratically.”
Chang also addressed the misconception about needing male vocals in order to have a broad music selection.
“It’s true we don’t have a men’s section, but all the songs we choose don’t require male vocalists, and we also perform songs that exist in much higher registers,” Chang said.
The music selection was definitely catered to the range of strong female vocalists. All of the songs that they had performed thus far were modern pop or indie songs sung by female groups like The Staves or female solo artists like Lorde.
Although I entered this Thursday rehearsal expecting to feel like a voyeur, I left feeling like I had gotten to know a group of friendly, passionate, and hilarious women, whom I hope to get to know even better.