Baker passes on knowledge of beatboxing talent

The alma mater that has been sung for the past 15 years by thousands of students has just been completely reinvented by senior choir and Lighthouse member Gideon Baker. 

“Honestly at the last Homecoming we did the alma mater at the end and when we were practicing we were all just figuring out what we were going to do harmony wise, and then he started beatboxing and it just made everyone just have so much more fun with the alma mater,” senior Emma Keen said. “I honestly think that’s how it’s going to stay from now on.”

Baker first got into beatboxing in sixth or seventh grade and his interest in the music form stemmed from his older brother Isaac who also participated in Lighthouse. From then on he has learned independently from listening to other beatboxers such as Kevin Olusola from the acapella group Pentatonix.

“Anybody that’s interested in beatboxing, pick a beatboxer that you want to follow, you want to copy their style, and try to figure out all of their sounds and then just mimic. Then just beatbox as often and as annoyingly as you can,” Baker said. “A bunch of times my parents would be like ‘Gideon you have to stop, that’s so annoying.’”

But being annoying and irritating paid off for Baker because he is now teaching other kids interested in beatboxing how to annoy their own parents just like he did. Baker’s teaching is extremely individualized for each of his students and is willing to teach and pass his passion on to anyone interested.

“He’s actually teaching my son how to beatbox right now, he was doing it in the car this morning,” choir director Clint Pianalto said. 

For the coming year there is not a plethora of people to choose from when it comes to filling in the gap that Baker will leave. So while he is still at school Baker is trying to help find a potential candidate that could take over his former role as the beatboxer.

“In terms of next year there are some people that have shown tendencies towards it so I think that it’ll be okay regardless of if I teach anybody,” Baker said.

 Beatboxing allows the group to break away from traditional choral music if they desire to and it gives them the opportunity to try new genres that they might have never tried before. It also allows them to sing at more events than they normally could.

“Beatboxing is the beat, it helps decide how fast the song is going to be or how slow it will be. It adds a little bit of extra flare to the music and to the sound and tone. It really influences the entire performance because it helps with everything,” senior Lighthouse member Ethan Hare said.

With the opportunities to explore new genres, Lighthouse performed Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco at the winter homecoming assembly to get students excited and to capture their attention.

“You don’t have to do classical pieces, you don’t have to do strictly choral pieces, you have more freedom to popular pieces. We are doing a version of Death of a Bachelor that we arranged, that we came up with and because we have that freedom of it not just being voices, it’s also precaution,” Baker said. “Pianalto said, after we ran though it one or two times, ‘it sounds really cool and you guys are singing it all correctly but what makes the song is the beatboxing’ which was a really good compliment.”

In addition to the freedom in music genres, there are also more opportunities to perform at  new events and it creates a larger differential factor from large group choir and Lighthouse.

“We’re doing Voice Jam which is this international accuplea competition, and Lighthouse is going to be opening the concert for that in April,” Baker said

While Baker is also talented in singing and beatboxing, he believes that the skills learned from singing does not have much of an advantage when it comes to learning how to beatbox.

“Beatboxing is a lot more difficult to just pick up, you can be naturally talented and pick up a song. Like you hear it a couple times and you can just sing right in, but beatboxing takes more dedication I feel like. It takes more individual chances to show off in a way. To show that you have the dedication for what it takes,” Baker said. “It’s more difficult but it also pays off more, in general.”

Although beatboxing is hard work and it takes many hours of practice, it has proven to be a hobby and career choice for many. While Baker does not believe he will continue beatboxing or even singing in a choir after this year, he encourages anyone interested in the art form to start practicing now.

“It’s a lot more practice than it is glory because I’ve only had three preformances for hours and hours of practice. So it’s a lot of just being annoying and just practicing as much as you can, but it’s a lot of fun,” Baker said.