Students Create A Cappella Club at Menlo


Laura Artandi.

Ana Banchs Rodriguez, Katie King and Zach Ruwitch sing through “Snowman” by Sia during an a cappella club meeting. Staff photo: Laura Artandi.

Laura Artandi, A&L Editor

At the beginning of the year, sophomore Ana Banchs Rodriguez had the idea to start a club with a unique type of singing: a cappella. “[I’ve taken] a lot of interest in a capella recently. Last year, I was thinking about it, and I [told my friends:] ‘guys, we should totally make an a cappella group,’” she said. Banchs and her friend, sophomore Zachary Ruwitch, decided that they were going to go through with that idea.

Banchs has previously sung in traditional choirs with instruments, but she believes that there is something special about a cappella music. “I think the concept of singing a cappella is so cool because you don’t need instruments to back you up. You can just create it yourself,” she said. Banchs also added that groups such as Pentaonix inspired her to get into a cappella music.

This isn’t the first time that Menlo has had an a cappella group. According to chorus teacher Karen Linford, she has been an advisor of both a women’s and a men’s a cappella group during her time at Menlo. The clubs each had about 10 members and ran in a similar fashion where the students chose which songs they wanted to sing and arranged them by ear. The clubs eventually ended due to a lack of interest from younger students. “[The club members] graduated, and it just fizzled out,” Ruwitch said.

Banchs and Ruwitch approached Linford at the beginning of the year with the idea of starting the club, and she was immediately on board. “I’m kind of just letting them do their thing, and if they need my help, I’m there,” Linford said.

The leaders of the club are currently arranging the songs by themselves. However, Linford has a cappella-style sheet music ready in case the students want to switch to using that. According to Linford, she was not in a student-run a cappella group in college, as they weren’t as common at the time. Nonetheless, she has a lot of experience with arranging music, so she feels very comfortable helping out with the club.

So far, the a cappella club has worked on songs such as “Remember Me,” from the Disney movie, “Coco,” “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King and “Snowman” by Sia. The club leaders both agreed that Disney songs were a lot of fun to arrange and sing. “We had a really big discussion about Disney songs and performing them in the club. They’re really cool,” Ruwitch said.

Although both Banchs and Ruwitch are very passionate about the club, they have had some struggles with gaining membership. “It started with a decent amount of people, but we currently have about three people who consider themselves [dedicated] members,” Ruwitch said. They are currently aiming to improve their membership and are brainstorming advertising tactics.