Senior Adam Davis remembers how joining Soulfege eased his adjustment to college. Davis, the current president of Soulfege, said he considers everyone in the group to be a close friend.
“I think being in proximity with other people who are passionate about something you’re passionate about just creates a family atmosphere,” he said.
Soulfege strives to provide a professional environment for singers looking to improve their craft. Their performances incorporate a range of genres, including jazz, pop and musicals. At the same, time the group tries to cultivate a comfortable and collaborative atmosphere. Senior Ben Rezko said there is still a lot of fun and love in the process. He noted the audition process as having changed for the better.
“It’s grown into more of a personal thing,” Rezko said. “It used to be you had to sing in front of everyone who came to audition, so slightly horrifying. We’ve changed the process so it’s just the executive board and the auditionee. It’s more of a relaxed environment.”
The group is almost entirely student-run and Davis said the decision-making process is as collective as possible.
“We do pretty much everything by ourselves,” Davis said. “We hold our own hands. We elect our own executive members. Typically music will be decided by the entire group depending on availability of sheet music and stuff like that.”
Soulfege holds a number of bonding events each term. Past events include roller skating and trips to a pumpkin patch, as well as regular get-togethers. Rezko believes the group’s closeness translates to their performances.
“I think you can’t make good music unless you know the people that you’re singing with,” Rezko said.
Soulfege has held performances in cooperation with a variety of organizations on campus, including Blessings in a Backpack, Alpha Phi Omega and Best Buddies. Their final concert of the year will be held on May 19 at 2 p.m. in Jay Rehearsal Hall.
For senior Melissa Smith, practicing vocal arrangements with Cordially Yours is a refuge from her busy week. Cordially Yours is an all woman-identifying a cappella group. Smith appreciates the comfortable atmosphere and strong sense of community.
“It’s kind of a place where we come together twice a week and just sing,” Smith said. “That’s what I really enjoy about it. We’re all just a bunch of powerful women, singing songs and having good bonding time together.”
The group currently consists of five women. Junior Savannah Sailors believes the group’s size allows members more opportunities for solos and leadership positions. Freshman Heather Fujii said the small size gives Cordially Yours the chance to break down songs and focus on strengthening each part individually.
“I think that’s really helpful and it’s brought us closer,” Fujii said. “Just the amount of times we’ve tried to go through this one part of the song and we all just look at each other like,’ this is not working right now but it’s going to work, we’re going to make it happen.’”
Cordially Yours performs a variety of pop songs. Because the group is small, members have to listen to each other well. Senior Lauren Sparks said that practices are always very collaborative.
“I’ve learned to blend a lot better, generally build simple skills just by the nature of having to sing little solos or having to sing a part completely on your own because we’re a small group. You have to listen and be in tune,” Sparks said.
Singing and group bonding often go hand in hand. Fujii said that all of the listening and blending that goes into rehearsals has brought the group closer.
For sophomore Fernando Guerrero, Tri-Tones gave him an opportunity to take his singing from the shower to the stage. As someone with not much experience with music, the non-competitive nature of Tri-Tones has been essential in getting him used to performing in a choir.
Guerrero first joined the all-male choir group this term. He was recruited by a TriTones member who heard him sing at a recital at the end of his voice lesson course with voice instructor Lucas Wood. Since joining, Guerrero has transitioned from performing as a bass to a tenor. This, he said, has made the experience overall more enjoyable.
“I think that’s when I started enjoying the group more. I hadn’t really sang in a high-pitched voice before because I was too embarrassed,” he said. “But then being around other people that would sing high-pitched as well, and even higher than me É then I felt not as intimidated.”
The group of four men rehearses weekly for about an hour and a half, during which members work on the specific songs they have chosen for the term. This term, according to Guerrero, the group has worked on “Muddy Water” from Big River and “Roxie” from Chicago.
Guerrero feels that Tri-Tones offers an opportunity for male-identifying students to gain more experience in performing, alone or with a group. He said that some of the members of the choir are using Tri-Tones as a stepping stone to audition for the Knox College Choir, which is a more demanding commitment. Choirs like Tri-Tones allow students to experience growth and development in singing with a choir. He said that the group support allows students to get used to doing things that might be uncomfortable.
“It’s a good way to start singing because there’s more people around. It makes it somewhat easier,” he said. “I think that helps with music or any passion that anyone has. You’re going to feel uncomfortable, and it’s not that big of a deal.”
Sophomore Tricia Duke thinks of Enharmonic Fire as a place for female-identifying students to sing without having to dedicate too much time outside of practice into the eventual performance. The choir practices from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Thursday, right before Tri-Tones has their weekly practice. The group performs with an accompanist and performs anything from classics, showtunes, or 19th century church hymns. Duke appreciated the dedication members show during practices.
“If you like singing it’s nice to be able to go somewhere and sing for an hour and a half and not have to do a bunch of outside practice,” she said. “If you’re dedicated to that hour and a half, you don’t really have to do outside.”
Duke also feels that Enharmonic Fire provides an opportunity for students to learn technique and skills in a way that is accessible for any student, with there being no auditions or fee required to join. She remembers not being able to enroll in voice lessons when first arriving at Knox.
“I think I’m not alone in that, when I first came to Knox, vocal lessons were kind of a financial luxury,” she said.
To Duke, Enharmonic Fire allows students who are interested in singing to continue to cultivate vocal and performance skills without the time commitment of a larger choir. She noted that some members are planning to audition for Knox College Choir, or are hoping to keep working on their voice for musical theatre.
While Duke noted that the choir at times feels less important that larger choirs or groups at Knox, they take this to be part of their charm. Rather than singing for a large audience, the members of Enharmonic Fire sing for their own enjoyment and learning.
“We’re not looking for every one of our friends and the newspaper and the Register-Mail to come to every concert so much as to like have a good time with our friends,” she said.