Online Acapella: How UT Groups are Making it Work

By Victoria Weaver

Out of the many career choices, the performing arts has taken some of the biggest blows due to COVID-19. With little to no audience and masks muffling voices and hiding expressions it can be difficult for performers to showcase their talents.

Students of the arts at The University of Tampa are powering through by finding and creating opportunities to perform. The university’s own award winning acapella group, Tampa Tones, has found a way to share their talents online and even compete in the newly virtual International Championship of Collegiate Acapella (ICCA).  

ICCA allows college students all over the nation to compete with their songs depending entirely on vocals. Tampa Tones had won in their quarter finals section and made it all the way to semi-finals in North Carolina the week the pandemic had officially shut down schools and organizations all across the nation.  

Tampa Tones Treasurer Emily Schurr, a senior musical theatre and history double major, said they were one of the last groups allowed to perform before the competition closed entirely.

“We were fortunate enough to go there and compete,” said Schurr. “And then we got home and the world shut down.” 

Being completely virtual, ICCA held auditions and submissions completely online, requiring the competing groups to create a music video of sorts to go with their song, pushing groups to come up with interesting visuals to replace the choreography they would have done on the stage.

Simply recording the song and submitting the final product doesn’t provide performers with the same rush they would have had from performing in-person and does take some of the fun away from the whole experience. 

“I miss the onstage performance aspect,” said  Faith Kopecky, Tampa Tones manager and junior music performance and theatre double major. “I felt like I was a pop star in a concert.”

 A showing of all the quarter final videos will premiere at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 13. Tampa Tones’ sister group Scarlette Fever, a treble-voice-only group, will also be included in this line-up with their own video production.

Lily Wiggle, president of Scarlette Fever and junior new media production major, said that ICCA is running with no budget this year as they didn’t collect any application fees and that being able to perform at all is impressive.

Although Tampa Tones can’t have successful live shows while still following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Tampa Tones has taken to recording their arrangements and uploading them to their Youtube account. Last semester they focused on recording holiday specials to keep the audience festive. 

Senior musical theatre and economics double major, Nick Cooper, said social media platforms have allowed their music to reach more ears than it ever had in person. He said the switch to video has opened up a world of innovation. 

“We’ve had to figure out how to work around these problems,” said Cooper. “It’s required us to be creative in coming up with the solutions.”

The group has worked hard to maintain CDC guidelines and stay safe in rehearsals, they even went as far as to cut down their numbers by limiting their past auditions so they could maintain space. 

The smaller group size has allowed for the members to create a tight knit relationship with one another. As with many organizations on campus, the pandemic has made events more difficult while also bringing groups closer together.

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