Sue Sylvester Would Hate Me
Wednesday is my favorite day of the week. At my school, Wednesdays and Thursdays are “block days” where classes last for eighty minutes instead of the usual forty. On Wednesdays, my last class of the day is A Cappella singing.Or, as we fondly call it, “Blockappella.” It is the best time of the week–eighty minutes of singing. Admittedly, I am a music nerd so singing for that long is my idea of the perfect class. Fortunately for me, there are many students at Field who feel the same way. A typical “Blockappella” Wednesday begins with me walking up the stairs next to our classroom, where I can usually hear the muffled voices of my classmates harmonizing on “Proud Mary,” by Tina Turner. The thought of teenagers willingly singing and harmonizing on a diva tune from the 70s might be baffling for those who don’t watch Glee, but if you spent a day with the Field School Tempo Tantrums then you would certainly understand. We all share the same bond of having a genuine passion for music and singing.
However, my passion for music was not born in A Cappella class. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved music and singing. The walls and shelves of my room are covered with musical artifacts and memories, including the Abbey Road Beatles poster, some real vinyl records, and programs from Broadway shows. I have also been playing piano since I was six and I have been taking voice lessons for four years. While I cannot say that singing came naturally to me at first, I have worked hard to get to where I am now. I’m proud of how my persistence has paid off.
I am also lucky to have amazing teachers to help me improve my singing and who encourage my passion for music: especially our A Cappella teacher, David Buffum, fondly known as D-Buff, Buffles and Buff-Man. (Since we call our teachers by their first names at my school, this is appropriate…maybe.) David was in high school and college a cappella groups and even went on to sing in a professional group called The Vineyard Sound. His zeal for music is contagious. Over the past three years, I have learned so much from him about harmonies, chord structures, blending my voice with the rest of the group, and appreciating music as an art form. Every time David plays a video, song, or sound clip, I try to wait before I react to the sound of the piece, because David always tells us, “It is not humanly possible to truly listen to music if you are talking.” Thanks to David, each time I truly listen, I discover new things about a song that I wouldn’t noticed otherwise.
Today all I discover when I hear the boys singing “Proud Mary” is that they simply cannot sing like Tina Turner, despite their best efforts. When I open the door to the classroom, I find the group of four boys singing in major thirds above one another, snapping along. Entranced by the music, only one looks over to me with a smile and waves. I sit down on the brown suede couch, the prime sitting spot, and listen to them sing. Soon, the rest of the class files in along with David. My fellow A Cappella devotees scramble to talk to him about the great barber shop quartet video they saw last night on YouTube or how ruthless Sue Sylvester was on Glee on Tuesday. David smiles and takes the time to talk to each student, carefully listening and enjoying each conversation, just as he always does.
Finally, David claps his hands and announces that it is time to start. He takes out his trusty pitch fork, hears the note, gives us our pitches for one of our songs right on the spot, counts us in, “A-one, a-two, a-one, two, three, four,” and we begin. Eighty minutes of singing. Nothing gets better than that.