Between the Lines forms a cappella 'family'

Between the Lines is a co-ed a cappella group on campus that prides itself on unique origins, remarkable growth and development over time and, perhaps most interesting, the quirky and fun-loving spirit that seems to be at the heart of its being. According to President sophomore Shannon McShane, Between the Lines is the newest formed a cappella group on campus.

McShane said that while the group had a difficult time becoming a recognized organization at first, it achieved that status in 2008.

“At that point, the group was still pretty small. Gradually we’ve gotten larger with more publicity,” she said. “Apparently that was the big thing, trying to get it out there that a cappella was a cool thing to do.”

Though the group may have initially emerged as an underdog, Between the Lines has come a long way since its early days. Around 100 people auditioned for the group on Sept. 7, and 11 new members were welcomed after callbacks on Sept. 8.

“We have to figure out which songs will work with the new voices and the soloists,” McShane said. “At the same time, we’re trying to keep the same genre of songs, but with all of the new people it’s hard to do that because everyone has different musical preferences.”

McShane added that the arranging process is much more improvised.

“How the process works is up to the arranger,” she said. “Some arrangers just listen to the songs over and over again. Others print out the original sheet music and piano accompaniment, switch the piano accompaniment to fit a voice part and then add the syllables like ‘do’ and ‘la’ and things like that.”

Though I did not witness the arrangement process firsthand, I certainly caught a glimpse of the distinctive essence of the group.

Boisterous personalities and enthusiastic prerehearsal conversation filled Wadsworth Hall Room 21. When the rehearsal began, the group sat in a circle on the floor as members introduced themselves, providing basic information, as well as each member’s spirit animal. Even the logistical portion of the rehearsal was strewn with quirky jokes and laughter.

“We pride ourselves in being weird and being unusual,” McShane said. “We like to joke about that: how we’re the odd ones out, we’re the newest group and we weren’t always accepted.

“It makes rehearsal a lot of fun because there are so many weird personalities - but weird in a good way because somehow we all get along and we all like to work together,” she said. “It makes things more enjoyable. It helps with nerves and it helps with making a family out of a cappella.”

“Family” seems the perfect word to describe the group. In what seemed a welcoming gesture, the first rehearsal of the semester included a run-through of the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips.

The striking lyric “I’m gonna make this place your home,” rang out as a promise to new members, and the energy and joy that emanated from the circle of singers as they stomped percussively and swayed harmoniously served as a testament to the unified nature of the group.