Meet O Cappella, OCAD U’s singing student group!

Top (l-r): Tina Giang, Carrie Ma, Alona Fiandaca, Selvin Ng, Estefani Tito Bottom (l-r_: Swara Patel, Ola Oyenuga, Margarita Tsetsekas, Adrian Liu, Chloe Lederman

Top (l-r): Tina Giang, Carrie Ma, Alona Fiandaca, Selvin Ng, Estefani Tito
Bottom (l-r_: Swara Patel, Ola Oyenuga, Margarita Tsetsekas, Adrian Liu, Chloe Lederman

OCAD U’s O Cappella student group recently sat down with Brent Everett James from Campus Life to introduce themselves and share their goals and activities.

Brent:
Brent Everett James here from OCAD U’s Campus Life office having a chat with the leaders from the O Cappella student group:

Olaoluwakitan Oyenuga:
Hi! I’m Ola, a third-year Graphic Design student and international student, so it’s also my third year in Canada! I’ve actually lived in a few different countries since my family relocated from my home country when I was 12. The past three years has been my first experience, being pretty much entirely on my own, but it’s been cool getting familiar with Toronto, and now Ottawa—where I’m staying during the pandemic.

Tina Giang:
I’m Tina and I am a fourth-year Illustration student from Toronto. I love all types of artistic expression such as singing, dancing, drawing, and collaborating on creative projects with talented peers.

O Cappella leaders Olaoluwakitan Oyenuga (l) and Tina Giang (r).

O Cappella leaders Olaoluwakitan Oyenuga (l) and Tina Giang (r).

Brent:
Tell us about O Cappella!

Ola:
O Cappella is an a cappella group for music enthusiasts at OCAD U. I started it largely because of the great experience I had being in an a cappella group at my previous boarding school. It was a great community experience where I got to make friends with people who shared a passion for music and we all had fun making our performances. It was the first time I got to push my musical talent and take it a bit more seriously than just singing in the shower, or as a hobby. I wanted to recapture that experience with the OCAD U community, to continue growing musically, and to make something memorable in the process. We aim to produce regular a  cappella performances for the OCAD community to inspire and engage students through memorable, refined music that introduces a non-visual element to our community which is mainly visual-art focused. This semester we have 10 members, four of whom are returning members.

Tina:
O Cappella started in fall 2019 as a small group and not many people knew that our club existed; it was like a hidden gem! I remember before the club started, Ola made a post on the myOCADU Facebook page looking for students to form an a cappella club. I was so excited to see another student was passionate about music, and I immediately knew I had to message him! Ola and I became the leaders, and we were determined to figure out how to structure the group. We held auditions and promoted through posters and at OCAD U’s orientation, which helped the group expand. We would meet once a week and have fun karaoke sessions.

Brent:
How has this year been going? How are you keeping the group active and engaging?

Tina:
Fortunately, the pandemic did not stop our group from being active this year and we decided to schedule weekly meetings that have been held online through video calls. In a way, I think remote access has helped O Cappella build a closer sense of community as it has been such a fun, exciting, and creative outlet for all the members to enjoy and connect with online—although we can’t wait to see each other in-person when it’s safe to do so!

To keep the group engaging, we welcome ideas from our members and ensure that their input is valued and appreciated. Sometimes, our meetings can run wild with so many great ideas, because we’re all excitedly talking about the different ways we can approach our singing performance videos, or which interesting songs we would like to sing as a group.

We create weekly announcements on Microsoft Teams as well to keep all members informed. We have learned a lot throughout the process and are still figuring out news ways we can improve. O Cappella has been possible this year due to everyone’s hard work and commitment, so a big shout-out to the whole team!

Ola:
Once it was clear that things would be going virtual this term, we really had to get creative, thinking about how to keep the group running this semester. At some point it was really if we should stay active at all. Coordinated performance is typically something that happens in person. Two resources helped keep us running. Firstly, OCAD U LiVE has been a great platform for our group to showcase our performances to the University community. Secondly, one of our team members introduced us to Adobe Audition which we use to record and mix our performance, and in combination with that, we’re organizing our workflow using Notion and discussions in our weekly meetings over Microsoft Teams, where we figure out our song choices and set deadlines for our iterations and final recordings.

Brent:
What are some of your more successful events, programs or activities during the pandemic? What about these events made them work so well?

Ola:
During the pandemic we started a new project called Solo Saturdays. It’s a cool way to showcase the talent of our individual team members through completely self-directed solo performances. They air on OCAD U LiVE and are uploaded to our group’s Instagram page on Saturdays. It’s been a great avenue of personal expression for group members and highlights individual talent in a different way!

Tina:
Thanks to Ola’s amazing video editing skills, we’ve aired two group performance videos that were featured on OCAD U LiVE. Our first group performance video got featured on OCAD’s Instagram too, which was such a pleasant surprise. Being able to showcase our group talent online has helped spread the word about our club. It has attracted students to our Instagram to see what we do, and a great way to connect with more who have a passion for singing and music too.

Click here to meet the members of O Cappella!

 

Brent:
Have there been any challenges for the group or its members?

Tina:
The semester always gets busier near the end, so we try our best to be flexible and accommodating, especially since we’re aware that remote learning has not been favorable for everyone. Sometimes we encounter tech issues, like trouble with syncing our audios, but we problem-solve as a group and aim to advance our skills. Of course we experience the common hiccups of online video calls such as the lags or delays that everyone can relate to. Nonetheless, everyone’s motivation to put in their best effort has helped the group thrive.

Ola:
It’s definitely been a group effort! I’m genuinely impressed at everyone’s performances under the circumstances. Another thing we have struggled with this year has been refining our process and technique. Facilitating improvement of performance technique for our team members is one of our priorities as group leaders, but our current remote workflow makes it challenging to manage this aspect of our team. As we wrap up the semester, we’ve brainstormed some ways we can ameliorate this, which we can hopefully implement next year.

Brent:
How do you keep your leadership strong during the pandemic?

Tina:
It’s been a lot of online communication with each other and the group to stay on top of our schedule. We both reach out to group members individually for check-ins as well. Ola and I  message each other and ask about our options so that we can generate ideas and come to an agreement for certain tasks and goals for the group. And sometimes we stay after our video group calls if we need to communicate anything important for O Cappella.

Ola:
Yeah, we do our best to stay in touch and keep each other up to date on things. A lot of the leadership consists of communicating important information to our group chat that is consistently active. Tina and I also try to balance the leadership workload as much as possible. It’s certainly been a busy year for us both, so we try not to let either person get too overwhelmed with group tasks.

Brent:
Do you have any other activities or meetings coming up for the rest of this term? And how can students get involved?

Ola:
We’ve decided to stop regular meetings in April, the final month of the term so our members can focus on exams, especially as it’s more stressful to maintain group activity remotely. But we still have some of our solo performances and possibly a group performance scheduled to air on OCAD U LiVE and our Instagram.

Tina:
As we wrap up, we hope students look forward to our new content next year. We’re looking to recruit new students to join our group too! More details will be posted online. Interested students should watch our social media channels (Instagram and Facebook) to learn about auditions before the next school year starts. We are so excited!

Brent:
Thank you both for taking the time to chat!

Contact or follow O Cappella:
Email  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

For more information about this or other student-run groups at OCAD U, visit ocadu.ca/studentgroups