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Love Pitch Perfect? This is what collegiate a capella is *really* like

As a singer in a collegiate a capella group, I always get the question: is it like Pitch Perfect? And my answer is: not really... I’m in a co-ed (girls and guys) a capella group at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before I joined, I assumed we would just randomly break into song and start riff offs because of what I saw in the movie. Here’s what actually goes down in the college a capella scene. 

There are no riff-offs to speak of
At a capella parties, we don’t just spring into song battles, aka “riff-offs.” Why? Well, it would take weeks to come up with and learn the harmonies that the Barden Bellas, The Treblemakers and the other groups sang in their little battles, and it would be impossible for everyone in each group to read each other’s minds that well. 

Recruitment season does get a little crazy
While it’s *not* OK to approach someone in the shower to recruit for your a capella group (or in any situation, really) like Chloe does to Becca in the movie, we do keep a close eye on specific students people before they audition! We can’t help it—we love our group so much and we want it to be the best it can be. 

Auditions are hectic—but in a good way
The audition process is a little different than the movie makes it out to be. In Pitch Perfect, we see bad audition after bad audition, where the people on stage are often *way* odd. We have the opposite problem: too much talent! Hundreds of great people try out, and only a few get in.

We don't do the whole mashup thing
Mashups on mashups on mashups—ever notice in Pitch Perfect that every song they sing is a combination of two different songs? This never happens in our a capella group. We mostly stick to full-length songs, because mixing two together is often unnecessary and feels forced.

A capella is more than one genre
For the most part, the Bellas sing Top 40 pop music. Real groups choose lots of songs from other genres too, like alternative and R&B. The winners of the 2017 ICCA's, The Nor'easters, sang "Cheyenne" by Jason Derulo, "715 - CRΣΣKS" by Bon Iver, "Who's That Girl" by Rosie Lowe, "Intro" by Ellie Goulding and "Writing's on the Wall" by Sam Smith. 

Too much choreo
The choreography in Pitch Perfect is insane.  In the movies, the a capella groups are performing like like they’ve been on Dance Moms their entire lives. Unfortunately, in real a capella concerts, we cannot keep up that level of choreography and sing at the same time. We leave the amazing dancing to Chloe Lukasiak and Maddie Ziegler. 

Play-by-play announcing? Nope!
Unfortunately, the funny announcers at the singing competition don’t exist in real life. John and Gail from PP are a hilarious duo, but at the ICCA competition, the MC’s are solely there to announce the groups as they come on stage.

Intense rivalries just aren't a thing
In the movie series, the Treblemakers get into a physical fight with an older group. Dramatic, much?! That just doesn't happen IRL. We actually try to make friends with groups from other schools and invite each other to our shows. No fist-fights involved.

But there *is* some drama
Power struggles between group leaders? This is a big one in Pitch Perfect and I hate to say it, but this is pretty on-point. Disagreements over music choices and general ideas happen a lot, which can cause a bit of tension in the group.

Music groups are more than close
While we all have different personalities and we disagree sometimes, we choose to spend time together, even outside rehearsal. At the end of the day, we're like a family—just like the Barden Bellas

Did any of these surprise you? Sound off in the comments below!

by Kira Barrett | 1/14/2018
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