Finding your voice with Pitch Please: First coed a cappella performance group at UAlbany
By ALLEN ENRIQUEZ
There are many groups and organizations at the University at Albany that many students may not know about. Some may include groups like the Laser Tag Club, the Equestrian team, or the first coed a cappella group, Pitch Please.
Pitch Please began in 2013 with only seven members at the time, a number that has now increased to 14.
“They started the group because there was no coed group and they were all friends in the MTA department,” said current President Cyndie Piscatello. “They just wanted a group with musical theater influence and stuff like that.”
Piscatello, a junior, has been a part of Pitch Please ever since it was established. She described the group as a bunch of musicians who come together to showcase their talent and ultimately have a great time doing what they love.
Although the group’s main purpose is for artists to express their talent, there are more serious aspects to it. The group practices every Tuesday and Thursday for two hours and there are attendance policies within the group. The group runs on a “three strikes you’re out” policy that leads to an executive board decision of whether or not a student is in the group anymore.
“We do have to be strict about it because if kids get lazy then they won’t know the music,” said Piscatello. “Then when we try to perform and the person who missed the practice doesn’t know the music, it messes everyone else up and it’s not fair to the group.”
There is an audition process to get into the group. The group’s maximum amount of members is 16, otherwise the group could turn into a chorus, Piscatello said.
The audition process begins with the contestant singing a song of their choice, followed by testing how high and low the singer can go. The group then teaches one of their own songs to the singer who has to sing it along with the group to see if they blend well. Although a singer may have an incredible voice, it may not be the right voice for the group.
“Sometimes, a voice is so unique that it stands out too much and you don’t necessarily want that,” Piscatello said.
The group mostly performs gigs on campus, but do compete yearly in the ICCAS, a national a cappella group competition held locally at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The competition consists of many powerhouse music schools across the nation, which makes it tough for Pitch Please to achieve a national title, according to Piscatello. The group is set to take on the competition once again on Feb. 20.
Not all students in the group want to have a career in the music industry. Piscatello, for example, is an accounting major and is part of the group for fun. There are only a few music majors within the group. The group also helps each singer improve in different ways.
“It really helps train your ear,” Piscatello said. “With no background music and just singing, it also improves your voice and the ability to blend well with other singers.”
The group is open to new members every semester. It tables at the block party UAlbany hosts in the fall and also posts on social media when it’s holding tryouts. Pitch Please can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by emailing Piscatello at email@example.com.