If you found yourself on the second floor of Trabant Student Center on any Tuesday evening, you would think you had just wandered onto Barden University’s campus by mistake. In the cinematic masterpiece that is Pitch Perfect (2012), Barden University is home to four collegiate a Cappella groups. UD just so happens to one-up Barden with eight groups on our very own campus.
As a first-year member of the MelUDees, I have yet to be in a Riff-Off or perform for the Obamas, and I (thankfully) have been spared from singing any horrendous mashups of “I Saw the Sign” and “Bulletproof.” However, to answer the question that all of my hometown friends and family first asked when I joined in September: yes, it is a lot like Pitch Perfect. I have lived some of the most iconic scenes in the movie, from the involvement fair, to performing gigs around campus, and even hanging out with the other a Cappella groups. My most movie-like moment so far, though, was competing in the International Championship for Collegiate a Cappella (ICCAs) last month.
That February morning, as a car full of MelUDees sang along to “Since U Been Gone”, I couldn’t help but make connections to the movie. I thought of my audition and how on-brand it was that I sang a Kelly Clarkson song. As we pulled into the Wawa parking lot, I thought of the scene where the Treblemakers launch burritos at the Bellas.
Then, when we arrived at Westchester University and met the other competing groups, I could almost hear Elizabeth Banks’ taunting narration in my head. I learned quickly that not even the Sockapellas would be a match for the groups that we were up against that night. Every group had come to win.
Throughout the day, we had warmups and soundchecks, did our hair and makeup, and got to mingle with the other groups. At one point, a couple of groups even gathered around the MelUDees to watch Pitch Perfect together. Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, another group had a velvet rope around their space. Minutes felt like hours as we waited for the awards.
We ultimately didn’t win and will not be moving onto the Semi-Finals this year. Honestly, I was surprised because I was very proud of our performance. We had been working towards this for months, and I thought we gave this competition the best shot that we could have given. Although it was a bit disappointing at first, it was hard to feel anything but pride on the ride back to Newark that night.
As Honors students, we set our goals high, and we measure our success in meeting these goals. However, this semester I have found that it is just as important to celebrate growth and victories, even our littlest ones.
I set high goals for myself as a singer as well. In the fall, my goal was to get into an a Capella group, and I did! In the spring, it was to win the ICCAs. But just because we didn’t does not mean that this experience was a loss. This was my first time ever competing. I danced on stage in heels without falling and my voice didn’t crack. For me, that is something to celebrate. For my whole group, it was our first time performing without masks in two years. For some, it was the first time singing a solo, or the first time producing an arrangement. It is even our beatboxer’s first year beatboxing. There is so much to celebrate and be grateful for.
I sometimes have a bit of trouble taking on this attitude. However, it is important to try to adopt this perspective on and off stage, especially in the classroom. I may not get an A on every JOUR 301 quiz I take this spring, but I will learn something new from every unit to apply towards my dream job. I might just pass SPAN 200 this semester, but with each week, my accent becomes a bit more authentic and the preterite tense seems a bit less daunting. I am acquiring the skills that will make me a more viable intern or employee.
This spring, I am choosing to celebrate my victories, and I am choosing to look at my non-victories as opportunities to learn and grow. Looking back at the ICCAs, I am so proud to call myself a MelUDee. Looking forward to next year, I can’t even “aca-magine” what we’ll be capable of!