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Understanding the Harmonies of the Wabash Glee Club

Being at Wabash not quite a year, I still find that I’m in the ‘I don’t know what I’m getting myself into’ stage quite often.

It’s how I felt before I took pictures in various classrooms last spring, knowing I probably wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what the professors would be talking about.

It’s how I felt last week when I experienced Wabash Homecoming festivities for the first time. (As much as students tried, nothing could prepare me for being inside the ropes on the Mall the moment that Chapel Sing began.)

Yesterday, however, as I walked from Hovey Cottage to the Allen Center for the first evening of rehearsals for the Glee Club’s 125th Reunion, I thought I knew what I was getting into there.

Wabash Glee Club began rehearsals Thursday for their 125th Reunion on Saturday.

Wabash Glee Club began rehearsals Thursday for their 125th Reunion on Saturday.

Being a singer and a former member of a competitive choir, I understand spending long hours with the same group of people. I understand how well you can get to know someone on long trips. Therefore, I thought I understood the Glee Club.

But the more I watched alumni come down the stairs to Knowling Fieldhouse, oftentimes greeted with a huge embrace, I began to understand that these aren’t just former Glee Club members who are coming back. They’re not just old friends, either. For many, they’re best friends. For others, they’re brothers.

Leave it to Associate Professor of Music and former member David Blix ’70 to figure out what’s about the Glee Club makes their relationships seem so special.

“The music. When you sing together as a group, you have to learn to listen to the other guys,” he explains. “Not only the guys in your section but all the other sections going on. I’m wondering if just that basic activity of listening to how the parts come together and how the music works doesn’t somehow sharpen or deepen the human relationships. I think it does.”

Rob Shook '83 and Kaz Koehring '18

Rob Shook ’83 and Kaz Koehring ’18

One perfect example of the incredible bonds that can come out of the Wabash Glee Club would be NAWM President Rob Shook ’83 and Kaz Koehring ’18.

“We met in Glee Club when he came to visit the fall of my freshman year and we stayed in touch a little bit,” Koehring said. “But then we went on tour to Texas that spring. We’re Lambda Chi brothers and ended up riding together some place in the car. It was only 20-30 minutes, but I was able to share some of the things about my mom. I cried a little bit. We hugged each other. That was probably the moment that we became best friends.”

As president of the alumni association, Shook tries to connect with as many students as he possibly can. But he connected with Koehring at the very time that Koehring needed a constant in his life. And that’s what Shook became.

“We talk all the time,” Koehring said. “I can share anything I want with Rob. I was talking to him earlier about creating a family. And he is my family.”

As I sat on the risers Thursday and watched nearly 100 current and former Wabash Glee Club members rehearse together, a family was exactly what I saw.

It was evident each time a current Glee Club member helped a former member with a piece a music he already knew or when two friends couldn’t stifle their laughter anymore and simply lost it.

So to the Wabash Glee Club members, past and present, preparing for the big concert tomorrow, I say: Happy Family Reunion.