Brotherhood Through Song
Tufts' Beelzebubs are brought together by a love of music and bound by a commitment to share that joy with others.
The motto for Tufts' Beelzebubs is "Fun Through Song." For the group's members, that sentiment extends beyond the four years that the group's members are students at Tufts; it is a lifelong creed.
"One thing we say is, 'once you're a Bub, you're always a Bub,'" says Nick Lamm (A'10), current music director for the Beelzebubs. "No matter what happens, you're always a brother."
The Beelzebubs, founded in 1962, are the longest-running active student organization at Tufts and one of the most prominent college a cappella groups in the country. The group has recorded 29 albums and performs dozens of concerts annually on- and off-campus, from churches and hospitals to Disney World and the set of ABC's Good Morning America. In 1999, they even performed at the All-Star Game at Boston's Fenway Park.
Recruiting is not difficult for the group. All they have to do is perform and someone is bound to be mesmerized, just like Eli Seidman was as a freshman.
"I remember having tons of fun watching them. It looked like they were having a lot of fun on stage," says Seidman (A'11), who is also the business manager for the group. "That's what I always think about before a show to make sure that I'm doing that for the audience. I remember how good it was for me, and I want to make it equally good for them."
Michael Horwitz (A'81), the head of the alumni association for the Beelzebubs, recalls joining the Bubs for reasons similar to Seidman's. But besides finding an outlet for his love of singing and a group of lifelong friends, Horwitz learned an unexpected lesson about teamwork.
"You are only as good as the team," says Horwitz. "It is a great lesson to have learned early on at Tufts, and one that continues to pay dividends."
A Legacy of Song and Service
The Bubs also take their love of music beyond their performances. Through two nonprofit initiatives, the group has carved a lasting legacy of support for music education in the Boston community. The Bubs Foundation was created in 1991 to help fund Boston-area public school music programs, and the Be the Music program, formed in 2002, brings Tufts students and alums, as well as music students and teachers from outside the university, to area high schools to teach students how to sing a cappella style. Horwitz estimates 250 students have participated in Be the Music since its inception.
"It's a confidence builder for kids who have never sung before," says Horwitz, who adds that some participants in the program have developed a passion for music that they carried into college. The Bubs Foundation also created curriculum kits that use Be the Music as a model for a cappella groups around the country trying to create their own initiatives.
According to Horwitz, there are 260 Bubs alums, with notables including actor and singer Peter Gallagher (A'77) and Adam Gardner (A'95), vocalist and guitarist in the rock group Guster.
Current Bubs and Bubs alumni convene for reunion events every five years. This past May, the group held its first reunion concert in the new Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center, which features the Beelzebubs Box Office endowed by the group.
Members of the group say there are no boundaries between class years or majors in the Bubs. "When you see your alumni, they treat you as if you're brothers," says Lamm. "You're all on the same level."
Bubs president Matt Thomas (A'09) says that while each year is special by virtue of the men who comprise that group, there is a sustained connection to the broader Bubs family. Part of that connection is manifested in the activities of the Bubs Foundation, which bring together Bubs past and present. That legacy of song and service has become a hallmark of the group.
"Being in the Bubs is not just about what you do right now," says Thomas. "It's about honoring the past and looking forward to the future."
From Tufts Magazine
A Cappella From Hell
Read an excerpt from Mickey Rapkin's "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory" that focuses on the Bubs.
Story by Georgiana Cohen, Office of Web Communications
Homepage photo by Melody Ko, University Photography. Slideshow and top photos by Joanie Tobin, University Photography
This story originally ran on Dec. 8, 2008.