For senior vocal performance and music education major Evan Weisblatt, a capella group OwlCapella is not just a college music group—it’s his identity, he said.
“I’d say the majority of time I spend with people in OwlCappella is not in rehearsal or at gigs,” Weisblatt said. “It’s just hanging out and that’s what I love about that group that’s it’s a community, and then the added bonus of singing really just puts the cherry on top.”
Weisblatt hopes to use the skills he’s learned as musical director of OwlCappella, a co-ed a cappella group, in his career. As both a music education and vocal performance major, Weisblatt believes serving in a leadership position in OwlCappella has helped develop his teaching skills which will translate into his career as a music educator.
“In some ways as music director I’m teaching, but I don’t see it as ‘I’m the teacher you’re the student,’” he said. “I see it as, ‘I have this idea … then you try to find ways to make that idea stick,’ and having practice doing that over almost four years, that’s extremely valuable going into music education.”
The experience Weisblatt gained being a part of OwlCappella will help him post-graduation as he aims to teach high -school or elementary-level music education.
“I won’t be teaching my peers when I go out into the field,” he said. “But at times it takes more skill to work with your peers and implement musical concepts in a supportive and non-condescending way than when you’re with a group of 8-year-olds.”
For many students involved in a cappella on campus, the groups serve not only as musical platforms but also as support systems that create lasting friendships. Seniors Danielle Costanzo and Abby Schmidt recalled their final performance with the all-female a cappella group, Singchronize, as a night of love and emotion.
“The group really supported us in the way they sent us off,” Costanzo said. “We each had a senior song and they sang it with love.”
Costanzo and Schmidt, both strategic communications majors, joined Singchronize freshman year as a way to get involved with the school’s music community as non-music major students. Moving into leadership positions after freshman year, Costanzo became the group’s president while Schmidt served as vice president and social media chair for three semesters.
“I found that Singchronize was my music outlet in college,” Schmidt said. “It’s great that it’s student-run and you’re actually singing songs that you like, not just classical music … it’s your choice and I think that’s one of the most valuable things about it.”
Costanzo said despite the school’s well-recognized music programs and groups, there are few options for non-music majors interested in singing contemporary music.
“I wasn’t interested in a cappella necessarily,” she said. “But it’s really the only vocal student-run thing that you can join, so it was kind of luck that I loved it.”
Singchronize is one of the a cappella groups on Temple’s campus, but the only one with all female vocalists, which comes with both advantages and challenges.
“Being in a group of 16 women is, as you can imagine, challenging and so rewarding,” Costanzo said. “But we have those moments of just total sisterhood and total support.”
Both graduates aim to stay connected with Singchronize even after graduation, through the group’s alumni network that organizes events to bring together current members and alumni. Singchronize alumni ran the group’s raffle booths this year, which “really brought us all together,” said Costanzo.
Weisblatt also sees a growth in his ensemble’s alumni network, a smaller part of the group as OwlCappella was started in 2011.
“We have made a huge effort to create the building blocks for an alumni network,” he said.
The group dedicated an office position solely for alumni connections, called the officer for Owlumni Relations, who comes up with ways to keep the alumni involved with the group, “it’s a small but strong alumni network,” Weisblatt said.
For Schmidt, being a part of Singchronize taught her more about herself than anything else during her college career.
“It taught me a lot in terms of teamwork and learning from other people who have completely different views on life than you, and I think that’s what college hands to you without telling you,” she added. “You can have 14 people from completely different lifestyles come into a room for one sole purpose of making music. I think that’s just what we all value at the end of the day.”
Emily Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.