When I first tell people I’ve never done Sing Song, their initial reaction is complete shock, as if I’ve just confessed to committing a crime.
The conversation becomes one of those in which you keep looking at the clock, thinking of all the other things you could be doing.
As editor of the Optimist and a few other things, my experience is an anomaly (to be fair, the editor last year participated in Sing Song, and the one before directed the Senior Act).
I put in more hours of work in two weeks than Sing Song participants do in one month, but so do other students, including athletes and those with a full-time job.
The average act practices for eight hours each week, starting in January. Eight hours per week for five weeks equals 40 hours, maybe more if you include set, costumes and Moody rehearsals.
I reach half of those hours just by photographing Moody practices on Monday through Wednesday. I, too, sacrifice my week to make sure students will remember their experience and alumni will be impressed with our work. And as a staff, we spend at least three or four hours working on Sing Song predictions to make people angry, you would think.
The newsroom becomes more of a home than my home, and my meals become a mix of Starbucks and vending machine food.
Student-athletes practice 15 hours each week on top of academics. Although they have access to special resources, they don’t get classes canceled to compensate for their exhaustion, nor do they publicly complain much about how much they practice. Traveling for games, on top of practices, can be time consuming and distracting from academics for four months, more than the single month of Sing Song.
In addition to athletes, students who have full-time jobs already work, in one week, about as much as Sing Song participants practice in one month. Whether late or long shifts, I understand firsthand how easy it is to fall behind for the sake of supporting yourself.
Sing Song, I’ll admit, isn’t just mentally exhausting and draining, it’s also physically taxing.
Though the Medical and Counseling Care Center does not have specific numbers, Abby Pimentel, administrative assistant, said they see an increase of cases around this time of year. She said this year, there was an acceleration of illness this year, starting earlier than in years past.
“It is easy to pass illness around during Sing Song season, as many people are worn down and continue to be with others,” Pimentel said. “The sharing of water bottles or tubes of lipstick in the gym between the shows also affects the numbers we see in our clinic.”
I’ve never understood why people are so willing to subject themselves to sitting in a crowded gym around other sick people to perform for three minutes (only for the chance to win a trophy that you have to give back).
Community, memories and experience might all be an answers to the question I’ve asked myself for four years, but those things are available in so many other places, including the 70+ student organizations funded by the Student Government Association.
Though Nick Tatum, director of student productions, said participant numbers are higher than normal, it seems like the dropout rate is as well. An entire act disbanded because people didn’t want to do it, and the sophomore act has lost over 50 people since practices began.
I’ll admit that Sing Song participants work hard. But just like students who choose to pledge, it’s a voluntary sacrifice of academics (or of sleep and sanity for the sake of academics), and physical and emotional health. It’s hard, but it’s a choice.
Though I will say I enjoy a few parts of Sing Song – taking corn dogs to Frats and laughing at people’s reactions when they receive honorable mention in our predictions – the list isn’t long enough to sway me.
To all of the people in my boat, to the people who don’t really care for Sing Song, to the people who haven’t done it and won’t see it, it’s OK.
And to all of the people who live and breathe Sing Song and its history, enjoy it. But don’t act so shocked when people don’t like it or participate in it.
So this year, I’ll eat my knock-off Chex-Mix and sip on my second iced caramel macchiato of the day as the grinch of Sing Song, and grumble about designing five pages while “Mr. Clean” plays in the background. I’ll remind myself that it’ll all be over in three days.