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Q-and-A: Friends of the Arts helps a cappella group tour high schools

clef hangers

Clef Hangers: Courtney Hargreaves (back, left), Jacob Lambert, Ashley Foreman, Maddie Williams, Angie Sylvester, Adam Schumacher, Eric Rehm, Alex Blue, Lauren Pfeiffer (front, left), Brian Kulaga, Ashley Meyer, Jason Raymer, and Connor Brennan

In each of the last two years Friends of the Arts’ grants have helped the Clef Hangers spread their love of song and their pride in Illinois State University by supporting the a cappella group’s spring tour of Illinois high schools.

During the annual tour, the student-run group performs for high school students and encourages them to continue their involvement in music and the arts in college. Clef Hangers also performs a seasonal concert each semester and a collection of on- and off-campus events.

Clef Hangers is led by President Ashley Foreman, a senior majoring in communication studies and minoring in French and music. In the following Q-and-A, she talks about the group and the importance of Friends of the Arts grants.

Tell me about Clef Hangers.

Clef Hangers was founded in 2008 so we’re one of the newest groups on campus. We are the first mixed a cappella group at ISU. I think my favorite thing about it is that we are all different majors. So the group is a collection of different backgrounds and musical interests. We are all very close but we all come from a lot of different places. That is really reflected in the music that we choose. Everybody is involved in that selection process. The Clef Hangers are my best friends at ISU, and we all consider ourselves part of a family. We also make really great music at the same time.

What type of songs do you do?

We sing a lot of contemporary stuff, but it changes every year with new members. There is a voting process. We all submit our top three ideas and then we eliminate through voting. It is really based on our personal interests and what is going to transfer well into a cappella music. So it’s not a long process, but it gets a little complicated. Once we get to it though, it really pays off because everybody is really committed to the music that we are doing.

Tell me a little bit about the project for which Clef Hangers received their most recent Friends of the Arts grant.

Last spring we went on our high school tour. What happens on our tour is that we usually meet up in one of our suburb towns, someone’s home, and we go to a lot of our alma maters first. Then if there are any other high schools in the area, we like to perform at as many as we can in a week. We just promote ISU and we promote ourselves. We get ourselves out there and really encourage kids to keep singing after high school. We really push the idea that they can continue to make these projects happen because Clef Hangers is completely student-run. So it’s a really big idea that we have that you can do anything once you get to college.

Why do you think it’s important to go out to the high schools?

It’s really great for them to see how much fun it is to keep doing music and to take it seriously in a bigger project even after high school. Usually we perform for music classes. (We show them that) fine arts and that music are so important that it continues on after high school. You can build relationships with it and you can also learn really valuable organizations skills. There is so much that goes into creating an organization like this, and it’s really great to show high school students that so they can be encouraged to try it on their own or to get involved in something like it once they graduate.

Why do you think the Friends of the Arts grants are important?

From the Clef Hangers’ point of view, we would have been struggling to get out there to all of the schools, and it would have been kind of a bummer to not be able to make it around as much as we did. It’s just so helpful to have that kind of support from a community of other fine arts musicians, artists, people that can understand where we are coming from and know that what we are doing is important. It’s not just financially. The fact that it is coming from somewhere that really wants to support us and really wants to know what we are doing and share what we are doing means so much. We would not have been able to do it without all of that support.

Clef Hangers has two upcoming shows this fall. The first is tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. November 2 at the First United Methodist Church (behind Milner Library). The second will be a collaborative show November 16 at the Center for the Performing Arts with fellow student groups Acafellaz and Secondary Dominance.

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