The Insider’s Guide To College A Cappella

Though a fun, rewarding, and quintessential part of the collegiate experience, college a cappella can be a nightmare of nuance for the uninformed student. Even choosing which groups to audition for can be its own ordeal if you’re not sure what to look for. Here are some free hot tips that’ll put you on the fast track to instrument-free success:

  • Often, groups will run open houses or meet-and-greets before auditions, and if you can successfully pretend to be a member of the group, there is no state or federal law requiring you to ever stop.
  • Every group has its own traditions. Examples include signature songs, year-end beach trips, drowning a freshman, or drowning a couple of freshmen. If you are a freshman, plan to be drowned.
  • Any group that performs in goofy hats or sings a semi-ironic rendition of Mulan’s “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” is an absolute wellspring of fun and creativity and should be pursued relentlessly.
  • Some schools have a few more whimsical groups, like “pirate” a cappella groups that hijack other groups’ performances, or “sexual predator” a cappella groups that lie in wait in the dead of night.
  • Some groups are steeped in decades of history, like the Yale Whiffenpoofs or the Harvard Krokodiloes. If this is intimidating, just remember: nobody cares a bit. Not even the tiniest fucking bit.
  • Your audition is your one chance to introduce yourself, so make sure you pick a song that reflects YOU! If you’re fun-loving and relaxed, try the Pokemon theme. If you’re boring, how about the Pokemon theme?
  • Three words: cry a little.
  • Most auditions will test how well you “blend” with the rest of the group by having you sing alongside them. The idiots don’t even consider that you can just lipsynch.
  • While many groups are co-ed, some are all-male or all-female. Under no circumstances should you double-check your own genitals in the audition room.
  • Can’t sing? No problem! Any given group will have at least one “special” member who just beatboxes. Blow that guy and you’re in.
  • Remember, you will only be one of dozens of auditions these groups will see. Make yourself stand out from the rest by simply refusing to leave, windmilling your fists like a problem child when anyone gets too close.
  • Groups will often coordinate outfits, performing in suits and ties or a base black with a splash of color. Pretty gay, right? Anyways, practice singing a bunch until you’re good at it.

- DJA ’13. Illustrated by KGR ’15.

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