Creating music without instruments is a daunting task that one group at Keene State College does not shy away from. In fact, they strive to do it.
Chock Full O’Notes (CFON) is KSC’s only a capella group. The group rehearses about five hours a week, twice a week. However, depending on upcoming shows, the group will add practice time as needed.
Senior and current club president Emma Simpson described the structure of rehearsal. “A typical rehearsal consists of ‘housekeeping,’ where we discuss any performances coming up and make sure everyone has all the information they need about upcoming events/rehearsals, and then we warm up together as a group and get down to business,” Simpson explained. “We generally learn about five or six new songs per semester, so about half of our rehearsals are dedicated to learning new material and a little choreography. The rest are spent making adjustments, adding proper dynamics and just overall making sure the music is in tip-top shape for when we perform it.”
To add to the challenge of singing without instruments, senior Erin Conti expressed that most of the group’s songs are learned without sheet music. “One way we differ from some a capella groups is we learn most of our songs by ear with no sheet music which is pretty cool.” Conti then spoke about the musical independence that can be found in CFON. “Pretty much all of our songs are arranged by members of the group. I, myself, have done a few, and it’s pretty cool to write an arrangement and hear it come to life when the group does it.”
However, an arrangement does not always sound the way the composer envisioned it, which is what Conti finds most difficult about a cappella. “Sometimes when we have a new arrangement, it doesn’t turn out how we planned and we have to work hard to make it sound how we want and sound like a full song even though we only have our voices,” Conti said.
As students start to get a glimpse of the end of the spring semester, CFON has began planning for the club’s future. Junior Morgan Sulham will be replacing Simpson as club president next year. “I am really excited to be president next year. I am a little bit nervous too, but Emma Simpson, the current president, has done such a great job of preparing me and answering any questions I have,” Sulham explained. “And I won’t be doing it alone either, which I am glad about. Everyone on e-board [executive board] really supports each other and it won’t be just me making big decisions for the group or anything like that. I am really excited to help us all be the best group we can be.”
With the hope of expanding the group, Sulham explained that Chock Full O’Notes is looking for new members for next semester. “We are looking for a lot of new members next year. If you have auditioned before, please don’t hesitate to come back. We will hold them within the first month or so of next year, so you have time to prepare a couple of songs to sing. Be on the lookout for us at the Student Involvement Fair.”
As for the future of Chock Full O’Notes, Sulham expressed that she has some proposals. “We have been talking about some ideas for the future, but none of them have been set in stone yet, so I don’t want to say anything too early.”
While Sulham is gearing up to take on her new responsibilities as the club’s president, the seniors in their the group are saying goodbye to their fellow members.
“I’m going to miss performing as having that outlet, it’s been such a big part of my life. And I’m going to miss the family CFON has given me,” Conti said.
Simpson added her hopes for the future leadership of the club as she looks towards graduation. “I’d just really like to acknowledge Morgan Sulham and Brendan Goodwin, who will be taking over the group next year as President and Music Director when Brendan Hoar and I graduate. They’re really wonderful people and I’m so thankful to be leaving the group in such capable hands.”
Chock Full O’Notes will be performing in their spring concert on Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m..
Erin McNemar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org