By Sydney Hakes
As one of the few music related clubs on campus, Minor Adjustments A Cappella has been regaining their voice following the setbacks of COVID-19.
For the first time since 2019, Minor Adjustments were able to host their spring invitational in-person. The invitation took place April 22 and consisted of multiple musical acts, including JEDI Dance Productions, the Gospel Choir and Cumberland Bay Barbershoppers.
Sixty-nine tickets were sold, most being to friends and family. No matter the attendance, the group was enthusiastic to be performing live again.
COVID led to the club having to put a hold on any live performances or in-person meetings.
“When you sing, you’re expelling so much breath,” Executive Director Hadar Pepperstone said. “There are 11 people on stage and even if we were socially distanced and wore masks, it was particularly unsafe.”
They transitioned to fully virtual practices and for the occasional performance would individually record their parts that would then be combined and mixed into a cohesive recording.
Pepperstone and Liaison Michael Arcidiacono both stated the importance of keeping the club up and running during COVID, despite the challenges of being virtual.
“I was worried that if we took a semester or a year off, we would lose the flow or the traction needed to keep a club running,” Pepperstone said. “And incoming freshmen would miss out on being able to join what is one of the few singing groups on campus.”
For clubs or organizations at a smaller institution, like Plattsburgh, keeping steady attendance was already a challenge. With a significant drop in enrollment during COVID, this has become a bigger setback for the students who strive to keep their beloved clubs afloat.
In fall 2017, total enrollment was listed at 5,719 students. The current SUNY Plattsburgh website lists enrollment at 4,738 students. Clubs, along with majors, organizations, sports teams and most other facets of campus, are being impacted by this significant loss of students to help support and continue these programs.
Arcidiacono, whose title of liaison stemmed from his previous role as secretary, spends a lot of time making freshmen and new members feel comfortable and involved in Minor Adjustments.
“It’s also important to have that outreach because many of us aren’t actually music majors,” Arcidiacono, a childhood education major, said. “We come from all over campus and just have a passion for singing that brought us together.”
Most current members have been involved in Minor Adjustments since their freshman year, saying that it was the first table they sought out at the Student Involvement Fair.
Besides the passion for singing, what seems to have kept students involved for their entire college career up to this point is relationships they have built with one another.
Pepperstone, who joined as a freshman and is still involved now in her final semester, said that she attributed making many of her friends through Minor Adjustments.
“We all hang out, get food together after practice, study together and a lot of us even live together,” Pepperstone said. “While we do work really hard, going to practice never feels like work. It’s always fun.”
Sophomore Grace Ewing also joined Minor Adjustments as a freshman, and predicts she will be involved until she graduates.
“I just love it,” Ewing said. “It’s a time commitment, as we meet Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., but if singing is something you enjoy, I wholeheartedly recommend auditioning.”
Minor Adjustments holds auditions at the beginning of every semester. Those who want to audition should prepare two songs. The editorial board watches the performances and accepts or denies students on a multitude of factors. One of those factors is the balance that is needed with a capella.
“Even if you have a beautiful voice, we can only take so many sopranos,” Pepperstone said. “I don’t want to discourage anyone from auditioning, as we always have students graduating and spots opening up. And we always need tenors and basses.”
With almost two semesters of in-person performances under their belt since 2019, Minor Adjustments is finding their rhythm again. They often are asked to perform at events on campus. In the fall, they sang at the tree planting ceremony for the students of 2020.
They also get opportunities to have fun with their song selections. A few of the eboards favorite songs they’ve done has consisted of “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire, “Holding out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, which they perform annually, and they even did “Busted” from television series “Phineas and Ferb.”
Minor Adjustments is a place for people who have a passion for singing and performing and have been lucky enough to develop strong friendships along the way. They urge anyone interested to audition in the upcoming fall semester.