“Scotch Tape Family” laughs together, sings together

By Amy Lebowitz

At ACappellooza, Scotch Tape, one of two coed a cappella groups on campus, took the stage in black and red outfits. They commanded the stage with their interpretations of pop songs. Especially popular, among the group members and the audience alike, was a rendition of “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys with Carley Davenport ’13 soloing. For members of Scotch Tape, however, the music is only part of the draw. More specifically, “It’s half singing, half laughing,” said Theresa Piela ’14. Also, “there’s always baked goods,” she added, baked by Lillie Taggart ’12 for each rehearsal. Although there is plenty of hard work in rehearsals and performances, what Piela called the “Scotch Tape Family” may be just as crucial to the group’s identity as a capella. “There’s a playful back and forth between people sometimes,” said Konnor Fleming ’15, “but it’s all in good fun.” “Just coming into Macalester and not knowing what everything was like, it was kind of nervewracking to dive into auditions,” Fleming said. Even before he received a callback, Fleming saw that “it’s just a happy-go-lucky atmosphere.” No matter their musical backgrounds, “we’re all here because we like it,” Piela said. Fleming started singing in mandatory elementary school chorus classes, with “a big end-of-the-year concert where parents are forced to come and say things like, ‘Good job,’ and ‘Stick with it,'” he said. He continued through high school, where he sang in a men’s a cappella group as well as collaborating with the women’s ensemble. “The men’s and women’s [voices together] just sound better to me,” Fleming said, “so that’s what drew me more to Scotch Tape.” Although he plays football at Mac, Fleming knew he wanted to try a cappella. “I figured, why not go for it?” he said. For Piela, who grew up going to the Silver Chord Bowl—a college a cappella competition—every year, “I thought it was the thing to try in college,” she said. “I’ve always loved it.” At the beginning of most rehearsals, the members “lounge and catch up for a bit,” Piela said. Also, “we take off our shoes, and Louis [Hendricks ’13] arranges them into shoe art formations.” Eventually, Piela said, “once we realize we’ve used up a lot of time, we usually try to jump right in.” “With Scotch Tape, it’s always a good time,” Fleming said. “Reasonably productive.” The group selects its songs from a variety of sources. Often, members will come in with an idea or an arrangement, and the group will proceed from there. Sometimes, though, random people approach Scotch Tape with song requests, and the group likes to pick songs that way. Once, President Brian Rosenberg even suggested a song. Recently, instead of coming into rehearsals with sheet music or pre-arranged selections, the group listens to songs together and tries to work out each individual part of the arrangement during rehearsal. Although it’s more work this way, it “feels more collaborative,” Piela said. Scotch Tape generally focuses on pop music, but “we just do whatever,” Piela said. Consistently, though, “every song has a solo.” Solos are usually chosen after the song is arranged, on the basis of interest. The prominence of solo features doesn’t seem to adversely affect the “Scotch Tape family.” Once a shortlist of singers has been established, “people will practically try to give [the solo] away after saying they want it,” Fleming said. He said that, rather than fighting for solos, the dialogue is more along the lines of, “No, you would sound so great!” “I don’t know if I’ve seen competition yet,” Fleming said. “I don’t even know what it would look like,” Piela said. The collaborative spirit is also evident in ensemble work. “If we hit a nice chord, we all basically start smiling and freaking out,” Piela said. She said, “I feel like it’s just a stream of goofiness.” Check out Scotch Tape at their performance in the evening of the study day, Wednesday, Dec. 15. It will feature a surprise involving collaboration of other orgs.