Hello everyone! As the semester comes to a close I would like to share with you one of my favorite things on campus: the a cappella singing groups. I got the opportunity to become friends with several of the members in L’shir, and I would like for you to get to know them too.
At any given rehearsal, the group starts with simple breathing exercises meant to stretch the lungs and prepare them for singing. Assistant Music Director Liz Proteau guides the group through a series of inhales and exhales. “Breathe in for four and out for eight,” she says to the group. She is snapping out the counts to keep everyone on beat. They all breathe in deeply, then hiss the air out through their teeth, all of them sounding like puddles of oil dancing around a hot skillet. “Now in for four, out for twelve,” Proteau tells them. Her hands bob up and down, getting ready to conduct the chorus.
||Click here for a slideshow of exclusive photos from a private rehearsal!||
This is what and average rehearsal looks like for L’shir, the University of Hartford’s oldest a cappella group. L’shir was founded in 2000, and began as a co-ed all-Jewish group. Slowly, they became all-denominational. Translated, L’shir is Hebrew for “to song”, a nod to making a toast and celebrating with music.
A cappella is singing without out using any instruments. Instead, the singers use their voices to imitate the sounds of instruments, giving it a more natural sound. L’shir consists of 14 members, with each member categorized into a classification of singing depending on their range.
Last semester L’shir lost six members, most due to graduation. Because of this, L’shir has accepted nine new members, seven of them being freshmen.
This year, L’shir is focusing on rebuilding what they had last year. They want to be able to get back to the closeness the members felt with each other, and of course, to get back to the previous level of skill they once had.
Even though they’re newbies, several of the members are familiar with singing. Media Guru for L’shir Freddie Perez loves to sing, but fell into it accidentally. In the eighth grade, Perez signed up for Home Economics.
Unfortunately the class was full and Perez was moved into Men’s Choir, without being notified. “It was terrifying,” said Perez. “I was shy, but it helped me adapt.” Perez is able to laugh about it now because it gives him such joy.
Liz Proteau’s has always loved singing. Proteau also has four musical siblings, as well as a musical set of parents. Proteau has been singing her whole life, be it with her family singing random radio hits around the house or in choir at church. Proteau’s talent comes naturally to her, and she is using that talent with her major of music production, to eventually help produce albums and demos.
Both of the directors take their roles very seriously. They are a part of a young e-board, with the other members only having served on extra semester than the two of them. They are all learning along the way, building a new foundation for L’shir and the other a cappella groups on campus.
Sometimes, being a manager of a group of young adults is hard. It is especially challenging when both directors are young adults. It makes it harder for them to gain respect and be seen as a figure of authority by the other members.
Many times during rehearsals, the members dissolve into chattering groups, abandoning their singing for the night. While Rahusen and Proteau try to rein them in, it’s difficult to take someone your own age seriously as someone in charge over you.
While L’shir won’t be releasing platinum albums and winning Grammy’s like famous a cappella group Pentatonix, they were just accepted into the International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella, a prestigious singing competition. Last year, one of L’shir’s members won Best Soloist in the Quarter Finals.
They don’t get school credit and they don’t get paid for all of the time they spend making sure the music side meshes with the business side. Yet one thing that they do get is the satisfaction that they are responsible for keeping their group the best it can be.
They may struggle and stress, but L’shir will always have something that they can fall back on when times are hard; the love of music that the members have, and their love for each other.