Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond week showcases many of the clubs and traditions of RPI, including the highly celebrated activity a cappella. Incoming freshmen were able to meet other students with a shared interest in singing. No prior experience was required for the event, making it the optimal time for new students to learn more about the singing style. The oldest coed RPI a cappella group, Rensselyrics, served as mentors to students, teaching them the art of a cappella.
The NRB event took place in West Hall Auditorium, where students were broken up into four separate groups based on vocal range. One group of singers was hosted on the main stage, while the rest were scattered around the various staircases of the building. They practiced within their individual “pitch groups” for some time, and then came together to perform as a full group. Freshmen stood in a circle on stage, with NRB leaders in the center facing the new students. This was the first time the group sang together in harmony. To begin, the group chose “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, which included both sung lyrics and harmonized tenor, alto, soprano, and bass voices. A small group of students participated in beatboxing, which added a percussion element to the performance. While the song was going on, students stomped their feet and swung from side to side as NRB leaders used hand motions to help students keep in beat.
Sapna Raghavan ’20 from Connecticut chose this NRB event because “[she] sang a lot in high school and knew this would be a safe place to be.” Sapna hopes to make new friends from the experience and audition for the group in the future. Eric Franco ’20 told The Poly that he chose to do the a cappella activity because “[he] did a lot of performing in high school, and wanted to follow through on that at RPI.” A continuation of past hobbies was also the motivation of Amanda McPartland ’20, who “[has] been in chorus since second grade, and started doing a cappella last year.” While the group had varying levels of experience, everyone ended up having a good time, and bonded over their shared interest in singing.