SRU student beatboxer looks to teach others, make connections in new beatboxing club

Published by adviser, Author: Rebecca Sheriff - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 4, 2015
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A transfer student created the Beatbox Society last semester to meet new people, and share his passion. 

The society, founded by communication major Michael Johnson, is open to all students who may be interested in the world of beat-boxing.

Inspiration for the society came when Johnson, 24, first transferred to Slippery Rock University last semester after having attended two other schools.

“Apart from my interest in the art form, the inspiration came from my desire to meet other people,” Johnson said. “Being an ‘experienced’ transfer student, I understand how difficult it can be to meet new people and to acclimate yourself to a university’s culture. It was this reason why I chose to form the group; I want to make an organization where students not only can meet other students, but where they can feel comfortable doing so.”

While Johnson was the sole founder of the Society in terms of its constitution, by-laws and establishing the necessary relationships within Student Government Association (SGA), the idea behind the club was a collective effort. The society’s advisor, Dr. Heather Rice, as well as a few other early members all contributed to the realization of the Beatbox Society. After initially finding difficulty promoting the club to the student body, Johnson discovered a strong interest in support of the club.

An element of hip-hop culture, beat-boxing is a relatively young art form, but humans have long been using their voices to formulate percussion-like sounds. Johnson said that beat-boxers around the world strive to create a sense of community, and that this is one of his ultimate goals for the organization. He plans for the group to become more than just a gathering place for students who want to learn and that share an interest in vocal percussion, but also to have it be a social outlet for those who may not have other opportunities to find a tight knit community on campus.

“One of the things I have continued to express not only to my executive board but to all of the club’s members is acceptance through encouragement. I want my members to be active representatives of the words ‘student outreach,’” Johnson said.

The society is geared towards anyone with or without experience, and those that have expressed interest in learning how to beatbox.

“People who are new to the world of beat-boxing, especially those who do not know how to beatbox but have expressed even the slightest desire to learn, are not only welcome but strongly encouraged to join SRU Beatbox Society,” Johnson said. “The requirement we ask of our members or potential members is to come with an open mind and a desire to learn.”

Johnson also aspires to eventually host talent showcases that spotlight the members’ hard work and dedication to beat-boxing. Seeing as the society is only in its first official semester, he wants to keep the short-term goals for the club optimistic but reasonable. He would like to see the SRU Beatbox Society become not only one of the most popular clubs/organizations on campus, but one that will be recognized as one of the largest of its kind in western Pennsylvania.

“Some of the activities we would like to occur include teaching beat-boxing to its members, jam sessions (which are open but not limited to various genres and styles of music), music/artist analysis and social events such as meet and greets and icebreakers,” Johnson said. “I want to instill and establish a working system that will still be around after I leave SRU. My long-term goal would be for SRUBS to be recognized in the beatbox community on a national level.”

The society currently has 35 members and meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Vincent Science Center (VSC) room 103. 

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