Penn Six, a coed comedy a cappella group, has removed auditions as a requirement to join, meaning that students of all talent levels are welcome to be a part of the group.
As applications for clubs and organizations open and students begin the spring semester, Penn Six is offering an alternative to the often competitive process to get involved on campus. Instead of having to try out for the group, Penn Six accepts everyone who is interested, which members cited as a method to increase commitment and lower the stress of joining a cappella groups on campus. The policy first began during the fall 2022 semester.
For many students, Penn is the first opportunity to join artistic groups and perform for a large audience, which can be difficult to come by as a young artist. Many experience a struggle with balancing the commitment of classes with regular rehearsals and other extracurriculars. However, many a cappella groups are selective in who they allow to join, sometimes making acceptance decisions that can come down to small differences in talent.
“The complicated and competitive audition process almost dissuaded me from wanting to pursue my love of singing through a cappella at all," College first-year Charissa Howard, a member of a cappella group The Inspiration, said. "I have friends for whom the audition week was filled with anxiety and capped with disappointment."
Penn Six is looking to change that trend. After experiencing a lackluster recruitment process for several years, they decided to open their team up to everyone who is interested. As a result, their enrollment numbers have tripled to around eight to nine members.
After admitting everyone who wants to join, those who would like to pursue other activities often leave the group and treat the group as a “second-choice” organization, not feeling bound by the fact that they auditioned for and chose Penn Six. The group's members see a benefit to this.
“We are left with people who genuinely enjoy the atmosphere and vibe of the group … they want to stay in it,” Engineering senior and Penn Six member Konstantinos Gkatzonis said, describing an apparent increase in commitment to the group.
Penn Six members told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they are not concerned that having no auditions will lower the quality of singers.
“Anyone can do a cappella," College junior and Penn Six member Joseph Dong said. "I think it is actually very hard to not have the skill to do a cappella."
Penn Six members said that rather than simply being a performing group, they are hoping to build a community of people who love to sing and create art. The group also performs comedy and wants to change the common idea of a performing arts group.
Both Dong and Gkatzonis said that not only has the no-audition policy been responsible for Penn Six's rise in enrollment, but also for the revival of their group. They credit it for reinforcing the group's “chill atmosphere.”