Feet pat to the beat on the worn wooden stage, laughter echoes off of the walls and voices sing in sweet harmony when the PULSE A Cappella group assembles for rehearsal in Cullen auditorium.
Nick Tatum, president of PULSE, gathers the group into a circle and they begin to sing “Where Joy and Sorrow Meets” by Avalon.
Thirteen in all, the group not only sings together, but laughs, teases and jokes throughout the rehearsal, creating a chaotic and quirky environment.
Bodies sway as the song moves along, the lyrics pulsing through the auditorium as voices mesh in a smooth harmony. The line, “There is a place where hope remains,” resounds off of the walls, urging the group to sing more.
Tatum, senior family studies major from Plano, and two other students, Megan Teel and Carrie Baker, began the a cappella group last fall.
Tatum said the idea developed at the beginning of last year, but he has wanted to start the group since he came to ACU.
“It’s kind of been my vision from the beginning,” Tatum said.
Tatum said the group plans to host a concert in the spring in Cullen, and PULSE will be performing a Christmas concert at 9 p.m. Dec. 4 at Monks Coffee Shop downtown.
The name PULSE, and its spelling in all caps, not only differentiates the singing group from the other Pulse group on campus (a scholarship program for freshmen and sophomores), but also represents the rhythmic music that the group sings, said Tatum.
PULSE conducted auditions earlier this fall that consisted of two rounds where potential group members sang scales and two songs of their choice in the first round. Two days later, during the second round, candidates had to prepare another piece of music and sight read with different groups to see who sounded good together.
“We had more than 60 people audition for the first round. Four people were already officers, so they were auditioning for eight or nine spots. Sixty people,” said Tatum. “It was cool that all these people made it. It’s a big deal.”
Corinne Morris, senior electronic media major from Abilene, auditioned last year, made the group and re-auditioned this year.
“Callbacks were really incredible, last year and this year, just because of the sheer talent in the room,” said Morris. ”I knew that even if I didn’t get an invitation to join the group, it would still be an amazingly talented group of singers.”
As they sing, their hands embody their focus. Some singers unconsciously cup their hands to their ear to help them intently listen to every note, other hands keep time with the flow of the music and Tatum’s hand confidently directs, pointing his fingers with each moving note.
“In PULSE, we’re not just about getting together, singing some songs and going home,” said Morris. “We talk about what’s going on in our lives; we laugh with each other and we pray together when someone is struggling. Yes, we love to sing, but our voices wouldn’t mesh nearly as well if our personalities didn’t also harmonize.”
During the two-hour rehearsal, in which only one song is practiced, the members laugh heartily in between every run-through, and the spur of the moment recording session in the women’s restroom of Cullen (because it has better acoustics) embodies the relationships that have formed within this tight-knit group of people.
Each time they begin practicing the song again, someone else gets to sing the solo. And though Tatum’s falsetto could easily match most sopranos, he happily sings the tenor part, content to lead from amidst the chorus.
Keslie Bernard, creative director of PULSE, said Tatum brings a great balance to the group.
“Nick has a very uplifting, positive attitude that is contagious to the rest of the group and is great about including everyone in decisions,” said Bernard, senior elementary education major from Mansfield.
Tatum quickly yells, “We’re kind of a big chaos group!” as the rest of the group trades places in the circle so each person can each hear all of the different parts and how his or her musical role fits in.
Tatum began college as a music major and finds PULSE is a great way to still participate in something he loves to do. He has directed three consecutive winning class acts in Sing Song for the class of 2013 and will be directing the senior act again in the spring.
“We get so much work done because we’re having fun,” Tatum said.
Between belting out song lyrics, spontaneous dancing and a few well-performed cheerleading herkys, the group’s seemingly everlasting enthusiasm mixes well with its chaotic craziness.
Tatum said he loves that the group can do its own thing but is still able to perform great music. He said PULSE can be low-pressure, and the group can do modern songs and praise music without being overly stressed.
PULSE is an extracurricular activity that everyone in the group enjoys, said Tatum. He said he thinks this is also a great opportunity for each person to sustain his or her love for music throughout the year outside of music classes or Sing Song. The group sings music that is challenging, but also tunes they can enjoy.
“Since we’re a cappella we can really sing anywhere and do anything,” Tatum said.
Still, in the midst of all the small distractions during rehearsal they come together when it is time to sing and in an instant focus only on the music, pages flipping in unison as they read the notes.
The sober words cut deep and the passion and focus is heard in each member’s voice as they sing through the chorus: “There is a place where hope remains / in crowns of thorns and crimson stains / and tears that fall on Jesus’ feet / where joy and sorrow meet.”
As rehearsal ends, a short burst of laughter rings throughout Cullen Auditorium as a reminder of the delightful PULSE the members of the group create wherever they go.
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