“Founded in 2010, The AbingTones is an auditioned, co-ed a cappella group performing contemporary music of artists ranging from The Beatles to Bruno Mars. The AbingTones perform regularly for campus events and also in the surrounding community.”
The biggest word missing from this well-constructed definition of the AbingTones is a word we all know in some form or the other: family.
I joined the AbingTones in Fall of 2012, my freshman year. In the audition, our wonderful director Mrs. Yoder (or aka Ms. O’Dea) made it clear that the AbingTones met every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during Common Break to rehearse and practice music. At that time, I wondered if I really wanted to give up time I could be spending with friends, working, studying, to sing three times a week on a commonwealth campus in a [now] snowy Abington with a group of other students I really didn’t know. But I can say now, regardless of all the perks of being in the AbingTones (3-credit course for first-semester students, concerts, Reading Terminal etc.), that this was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my school and college career.
Three times a week I meet with a family apart from the one I have back home. A family that I enjoy talking to, singing with, and spending time with. And every year I give up certain events and things I can be doing, in order to meet three times a week to rehearse at Sutherland Auditorium. But I love it. I look forward to spending time with these people, because in this time, this 1-hour block of time, I get to know more about these people I converse with, that sing on stage in a circle, flapping their hands in some crazy, bird-sh way that Mrs. O’Dea calls a “warmup”, and we get to relieve the stress of being college students with one another, all while doing something we love. We support each other, we fight for each other, we vent with each other. New recruits get used to the atmosphere in that Sutherland auditorium, and begin to realize just how strongly knitted this group of unique and beautiful individuals is. Like on the rare occasion Ms. O’Dea gets mad, because we weren’t being attentive or serious enough (S/O to Josh…just kidding), we always end up breaking that moment of tension with some silly statement or gesture (S/O to Jalisa Clarke), followed by a couple minutes of hearty laughter, and we return to our music, serious but light-hearted.
Sometimes it takes up a lot of time, time I could be using to do academic things, more important things that could further my career. People tell me all the time that it’s something I should maybe give up since I am a biology major, and I should focus on the reasons I am at school. Maybe they’re right. But there are also moments I have had in the AbingTones that will stay with me for a lifetime, moments that I wouldn’t have been able to conjure up studying last-minute for an exam in a class I am struggling in. It’s those moments that stay with you, that add value to the days you live. Sure, maybe things like singing for the AbingTones, or just simply spending time with people I care about could hurt my career. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
On Saturday, February 15, the AbingTones are going up to University Park to compete in the ICCA Varsity Vocals Competition with other a cappella groups. We have worked hard under the strong leadership of our director, Mrs. O’Dea, and we couldn’t be more excited to go. To this day, it’s still unbelievable I won’t be seeing some of these people next year when they graduate or move on, and I am going to miss them so dearly. That just makes this trip and the concerts scheduled for the rest of this year that much more valuable to me and I am sure to each member of this group.
This experience of a trip that is coming up on Saturday is not one you can just make out of thin air. Just the cold, snowy air of PennState University Park and a small group of singers that can be seen huddled together, singing as a family.