For mathematics and secondary education major junior Kevin Pierce, beatboxing serves as an outlet for his musical energy.
As the president and beatboxer of Geneseo’s coed a cappella group Between the Lines, BTL has been just that for Pierce: a channel to pursue his hobbies.
“As a math major, I don’t really get a lot of opportunities for music, and like any other Geneseo student, I’m not just my major—not just a math person,” Pierce said. “But BTL has become just like my family; they make me the happiest.”
Pierce has been involved in BTL for three and a half semesters after auditioning as a beatboxer during the second half of his spring semester freshman year. Pierce has been leisurely beatboxing, however, since seventh grade.
“I auditioned for BTL because I really wanted to be in a cappella and I missed having music in my life,” Pierce said. “When I got in, that was probably one of the best moments of my life.”
Music has always been a part of Pierce’s life; before beatboxing he was a percussionist and has been since fourth grade. In addition to beatboxing and percussion, Pierce is a drummer and even taught himself the ukulele “just for fun.”
“I can do impressions, and so what beatboxing was for me was doing an impression of the drums, and I started doing that in seventh grade when I was going through my seventh grade phase of being really into hip hop,” Pierce said. “Since then, I’ve realized what a cappella was and realized that this thing that I just did as a joke could be used as a part of actual music.”
Since then, Pierce has been “making beatboxing up” as he goes. Even without any formal training in beatboxing, Pierce wouldn’t say that he practices beatboxing by setting aside time to rehearse.
“What I do is anytime I’m listening to a song or I hear something that kind of interests me, I try to replicate it by beatboxing,” Pierce said. “Music is constantly playing in my head, so I’m always singing something or beatboxing.”
Pierce’s tastes are eclectic in that his musical preferences change daily. BTL’s music choices, however, do coincide with his own personal music playlists. For Pierce, picking and arranging “Beware the Dog” by The Griswolds—for a vocal solo in spring 2016—is a highlight of his music career.
“Last year I got the solo, and that’s probably the coolest thing for me because I don’t consider myself a singer: I am the beatboxer,” Pierce said, “So knowing that not only did BTL support me in my singing, but also that I had progressed enough that they thought I was worthy enough to get a solo, meant a lot to me.”
Over the summer, Pierce will have the opportunity to be a part of the EXPLO Summer Program on the Wellesley College campus, which is a project-based educational summer camp. There he will teach logic, puzzles and math, along with an a cappella workshop for children—combining both of his interests.
Looking further into the future, Pierce aspires to continue to fuse teaching and music, as he will this summer. He would like to take a gap year after graduating to either participate in City Year or to teach abroad before beginning his career in teaching math.
“I really want to either help with choir in a school that I’m placed in or find some way to support the arts while I’m doing math, because I think music is basically applied math, so it’s really easy to tie it into the math curriculum,” Pierce said. “I’d also love to be in a band with my friends or just join some community choir to keep that musical outlet going for me.”
Until and after then, Pierce will keep beatboxing—which he can summarize in one word: