Last year, music-lovers from across the state gathered with thundered claps and cheers as vocalists from female a cappella ensemble Take Note bowed one last time before exiting the stage.
This semester, the house of the theater remains empty as the singers individually perform their track to a phone in the comfort of their home. Each track will later be layered to create a virtual performance for their friends and families to enjoy.
Like other musical groups at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Take Note had to find new ways to continue sharing their music with the community. Junior music and theater arts double major Calli Mah, president of Take Note, said the group was formed in the fall of 2018 to create more opportunities for women on campus to come together, create music and empower each other.
With a lack of performances and live audiences, Mah said Take Note released its first music video, “Hex Girls/ I Put a Spell on You,” on Halloween to continue outputting music.
To create the video, each member recorded their own track to then be combined into a final music video. Mah said this technique allows the group to continue to reach out to their peers on campus and share its musical talents with many different people.
“With the internet we’re able to find different ways creatively to be able to reach even more people. Maybe not everyone can come to a performance on campus. But now, everybody can go to the link on Youtube and watch,” Mah said.
Take Note will have a second music video premiering prior to the holiday season for a song they’re currently rehearsing called “Winter Song.”
“It’s one of our favorite songs to perform. It’s really sweet, and it’s not specific to any holiday or anything, but I think everybody can relate to it,” Mah said.
Even though the group might not be performing in a way they’re accustomed to, Mah said the relationships she’s built with the girls is still very special.
“A cappella music is so unique in a way that you’re using your own pure self with others to create something so beautiful, something very artistic. This bond that I have with them is different than other ensembles,” Mah said. “I know that I’ll be taking these friendships with me no matter what. Even if we might not be singing together, we’ve built something even more powerful than that.”
During this pandemic, Mah said that it’s hard to form relationships with other people and meet new people, so she finds any opportunity to connect with others to be important. Mah said Take Note is “empowered women empowering women through the power of music.”
Junior broadcasting major Kelsey Eihausen has also been a part of Take Note since its founding and said most of the friends she’s made in college have been through this group.
“I’ve formed very deep relationships with the girls in this group because performing brings you together like no other thing,” Eihausen said.
Although she’s continued to form new relationships and deepen the ones she’s had, Eihausen said it’s been difficult to practice with the university’s COVID-19 regulations. Prior to the pandemic, the group would sing in a semicircle around the piano, but now they have to wear masks and sing 10 feet apart in a large classroom at the Westbrook Music Building. The group continues to practice twice a week, but Eihausen said it took a few weeks to adjust to the new layout.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into it because sometimes it’s the room itself that swallows the sound up,” Eihausen said. “It’s interesting to try to pick out your own part if you’re not really sure what notes you’re supposed to be singing. You have to really use your listening skills to try to pick it out of the chord.”
Despite difficulties in figuring out the dynamics of singing while socially distanced, Eihausen said she thinks it can be fun and trains the singers’ ears more.
“In the end, I think this will kind of make us better musicians in general because we’ll get more used to being able to pick up our part in the chord,” Eihausen said.
Eihausen said that even though the group has gotten the hang of singing apart, being dispersed around the room isn’t always easy for the members. Eisenhower said it affects her emotionally to be apart from her friends.
“I like to be able to feel like I’m in the group, in the middle of the music. This has personally affected me a little bit more than I thought it would because it’s so weird not to be right next to each other on the stage or in a rehearsal room,” Eihausen said. “It’s quite a different dynamic. I’ve slowly been adjusting to it, but it’s been really difficult to feel the same way.”
Sophomore psychology and dance double major Ally Akerberg is experiencing her first semester in Take Note. Akerberg said she also struggles to feel connected with the group while singing. While wearing masks over their faces, Akerberg said she’s had to learn to read eyebrows and body movements.
“I never knew how much I relied on reading other people’s lips when I’m singing. It’s definitely been an adjustment, and it’s kind of forced me to use my entire body when I’m singing,” Akerberg said.
While singing across the room from the other members, Akerberg said she can tend to feel isolated.
“You kind of feel like you’re the only one singing sometimes,” Akerberg said.
Even though it can be difficult, Akerberg said she’s glad to be part of the group and have something to look forward to each week.
“It’s a brain break,” Akerberg said. “I feel like all I do is online classes everyday with the exception of my dance studio courses. I think Take Note is just a really nice way to get with some people and sing and have a good time and just enrich a different side of your brain, especially because now we’re so used to doing the same thing over and over again.”
Not only does Akerberg look forward to practicing with her new a cappella group, she said she takes pleasure in being able to continue sharing her singing with family and friends through the music videos. With the pandemic, Take Note hasn’t been able to hold any in-person performances this semester, so Akerberg hasn’t performed live.
“I think it’s one of the coolest ways to still be able to perform in a distant and safe way,” Akerberg said. “Though we haven’t had any performances, that video is still something for us to look forward to.”
This article was modified at 6:56 p.m. on Nov. 10 to correct the spelling of Eihausen.