While the three a cappella groups, Note-A-Fy, Perfect Pitch and Testostatones are run and organized by students, some students faced difficulties during the audition process this year because of a policy that the groups didn’t institute.
There is an agreement between Director of Choirs Michael Driscoll and each of the three groups that at least 85 percent of the members have to be presently enrolled in a chorus class or have taken one in the past. This policy fell by the wayside two years ago and started being enforced only recently, according to Driscoll.
“This year specifically, I don’t know if it’s been the case in previous years, it has prevented us from letting in people that the group as a whole wanted to let in,” Testostatones co-leader senior Mike Suh said.
Although the groups run and organize auditions with no involvement from faculty, Driscoll has final jurisdiction over who is accepted into the Testostatones and other groups due to the policy.
“Some kids may have some scheduling issues, and for whatever reason just can’t be in chorus,” Driscoll said. “We don’t want it to be a Draconian rule, but we want the majority of them to be part of the program.”
According to junior Elijah Elmore, who has been a part of Testostatones since he was a sophomore, the members of the group generally share decision-making equally.
“I think that the dynamic is better because we don’t feel like we have to do things or have to listen to a teacher tell us about certain parts of the a cappella,” Elmore said. “We can just do our own thing, make our own song choices, kind of organize what it is going to sound like by ourselves.”
However, the students are not completely independent. The groups rely on the high school’s chorus program for certain concessions. A cappella rehearsals and auditions often take place in the chorus room during X-block, and Driscoll is usually involved in organizing the concerts that the groups participate in, including the A Cappella Fest.
“It’s a two way street; they’re supporting me and I’m supporting them,” Driscoll said.
Suh said Driscoll’s role in concert organization and use of the chorus room means that the policy regarding chorus enrollment is a logical expectation as an exchange. But Suh also has personal issues with the policy.
“A lot of the students in the group are very vocally against the policy, and I personally absolutely see where they’re coming from,” Suh said. “The ability to be in a group like this should not be limited to whether you’ve been able to take a chorus class at the school.”
The policy extends to the two other a cappella groups, but did not affect their selections this year according to Note-A-Fy member sophomore Sarah Dreyfus and Perfect Pitch member senior Ella Bunnell.
Bunnell said the policy is not always imposed and is not a major obstacle for the group, adding that it does not affect the feeling of student influence in decisions.
“It’s student run as other clubs in the school are student run. Most clubs don’t have requirements like this, but all clubs have advisers,” Bunnell said. “Since Mr. Driscoll is our adviser, it is sort of his decision what the policy is going to be. It can be inconvenient, but it can also be beneficial.”
Driscoll said that one positive outcome of the policy is that it enhances the high school’s choral groups.
“I really like having our three a cappella groups, and I’m happy to support them, and I think it’s a great thing that they’re independent and they have the skills that they need to be able to work on their own and have some really good performances,” Driscoll said. “I think it’s really a testament to not just their work, but also the work that’s being done in the chorus classes.”
Sam Klein can be contacted at [email protected]Photo by Jaime Serrato Marks
Testostatones members seniors Dawaun Hardy, Mike Suh and Yiorgos Karaminas watch students audition. A revisited policy requires 85 percent of members of the a capella groups to be enrolled in or to have taken a school chorus class.