UBC A Cappella Auditions!
Everything you ever wanted to know about joining Western Canada’s largest collegiate a cappella community!
SEPTEMBER 2018 AUDITIONS
Our main round of auditions for the coming school year will be held from the 14th to the 16th of September. Demand has grown substantially in recent years, so attendance to our introductory workshop (September 11) is mandatory for securing an audition spot. These spots are released on a first come, first served basis – arrive early to secure one!
An audition is required to join our four core groups – the Majors, the Minors, Fermata, and Choral Reef. If you cannot make any audition times or would prefer not to audition, our group Fast & Forte is open to the general public and does not require an audition to join.
The questions below pertain to the audition process specifically, if you have more general questions about our club please refer to our FAQ page.
Q: What are auditions like?
A: Our auditions are meant to be as stress-free as possible and are only ten minutes long! For us, the main objective is to get to know you and your voice so that we can see where you would best fit within our various groups.
For the initial audition, we ask that you come prepared with a verse & chorus of a song of your choice (to be sung a cappella, of course!). We’ve had people sing everything from Bob Marley to Les Mis show tunes; pick something you think will show off your voice but that you also enjoy and feel comfortable singing.
Before your audition, we will send an excerpt of a piece which you will perform for us during your audition in addition to your chosen song. This is to test your ability to learn music independently.
We will also test the technical aspects of singing: vocal range, sight reading, ear training, pitch matching (triads), and harmony.
The entire process has been designed to be fair & efficient. If you feel nervous, remember that those running the auditions were in your shoes not long ago, and that you are more capable than you likely realize! After your audition, we will contact you within a couple days via e-mail.
Q: If I have preference towards a particular group (of the four), will that be considered?
A: Yes–your preference will certainly be taken into account. After callbacks, we will ask auditionees to note down their group preferences. During auditions, you will also fill out an Audition Form that outlines your year, program, musical experience, singing part, and availability. Please note that when we place members, we not only take into consideration auditionees’ preferences, but equally consider their ability and personality; this ensures that everyone’s individual placement is the best fit in terms of availability, attitude, and ability.
Q: What are callbacks for?
A: Out of the 100+ auditionees we see every year, we narrow down this pool to ~40 members for callbacks, which is essentially a second audition for members. At the callbacks, you get to meet current members of the smaller groups in a more personal setting. You will be preparing one excerpt at home and learning another one during callbacks in your voice parts. Afterwards, you will form small performance groups to present so we can listen for two components: one song marks your individuality and ability to hold your own in a song, while the second demonstrates your ability to blend with the rest of the group. After that, we’ll contact you within a couple days.
- An important note on callbacks: If you are unable to attend callbacks we CANNOT provide you a spot in one of our core groups. We have so many incredible people that audition for our club every year that it would be impossible to select people for core groups based solely on their initial 10-minute audition.
Q: Do I have to be able to read sheet music in order to join?
A: While we have a preference towards those who are able to sight read at at least a beginner level, we also encourage those with good musicality (good ear for harmony, rhythm, pitch, technique) to audition; we have very talented members who cannot sight read, but have learned through membership with UBC A Cappella.
If you are accepted into our club without sight reading knowledge, we will expect you to attend our reading music workshop which will happen in late September or early October. It is an expectation that all members work on their sight reading abilities irrespective of their skills coming into our club.
Q: If I am placed into a group, am I committed to that group eternally, or can I audition to join another group later?
A: Every September we allow our returning members (from any group) the opportunity to re-audition into another group of their choice. While we can’t guarantee that our re-auditionees will make it into the particular group they desire, we reserve a spot for them in their current group so that they have the option of returning to that particular group if they are not accepted into their new preference.
Example scenario: If you join the Majors in September 2016 and then decide in April 2017 that you want a lower commitment in our club due to school/work (as Majors rehearse twice a week), then you’re welcome to re-audition for any other group. If, say, you can only make either Minors or Fermata rehearsals, and you are not accepted into Fermata, then your spot in the Majors will remain and you can opt to return to the Majors if you’d like to. If you are accepted into Fermata and decide to join, then your spot in the Majors will be filled by someone else.
Q: Why do I have to pay a membership fee to sing?
A: As a club under the AMS, it’s mandatory to have an annual membership fee. The UBC A Cappella membership fee of $10 covers you for the entire school year– (all members, returning and new, must pay this fee anually). The fee will snag you a UBC A Cappella shirt, membership to an AMS club (us, duh), discounted prices to our year-end concerts (if you choose not to participate, but simply watch!), and free attendance to workshops we hold throughout the year (beatboxing, solos, you name it–we’ll arrange to provide it!).
Q: What is the time commitment for members?
The time commitment for members entails weekly rehearsals, with 1 hour of additional sectionals and sometimes gigs. If you are a member of one of our core groups you are required to participate in our term end concerts, and you are strongly encouraged to if you are a member of Fast & Forte. In addition to mandatory attendance to these events, all members are highly encouraged to attend a cappella social events; we are as much a social club as we are a singing club. Over the years, we have recognized that the best groups are those that not only sing together, but enjoy spending time together outside of rehearsal. For this reason, we hold club-wide socials at least once per term, as well as other social events for our individual choirs. As part of your time commitment, you will be expected to attend your choir’s retreats that are held once per semester. See the next question for more details.
In total, all of these things add up to 3-5 hours per week of time commitment. Broken down they are:
- 2-4 hours of regular weekly rehearsal
- 1 hour of sectionals (group-dependent)
Other time commitments that are more varied throughout the term:
- Club socials/retreats
Concert weekend (See the Concert Weekend question below)
Q: What are a cappella retreats?
Each term we have retreats for each of our choirs. Retreats consist of the individual choirs going away for an evening, rehearsing music, and spending time with one another. We find they are the best bonding opportunities members get in our club. If you are accepted into our club you are strongly encouraged to attend your group’s retreats.
Q: What does Concert Weekend look like for members?
Our semester-end concerts are some of the most exciting events of the year for UBC A Cappella. If you haven’t already, we invite you to check out our YouTube channel where you can see videos from our previous concerts. As far as time commitment for members on concert weekend, you can expect the following:
- Up to 3 hours of additional rehearsal time in the 2 weeks leading up to the concert
- A dress rehearsal before the concert ~ max of 5 hours
- Concert day is a full day. Expect that you will be arriving at our venue as early as 10am, and may not be done until late evening (9pm). There will be breaks throughout the day, but this is a long day, and a mandatory expectation of our group. Concerts are what we work towards all semester and if you aren’t there you can throw off the entire sound of your group, not to mention altering any choreography your group may have included. Without a legitimate excuse, missing these events is grounds for dismissal from the club.
In order to ensure members can book these times off, the concert and dress rehearsal dates are solidified at least a month and a half in advance.