Student finds his ‘perfect pitch’ in a cappella

Student Spotlight
Mark Holcomb, secondary education of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing graduate student

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Mark Holcomb, a graduate student in the secondary education of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing program, is an alum of the a cappella group 8 Beat Measure.

Mark Holcomb, a graduate student in the secondary education of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing program, was raised by two deaf parents. As a result, he didn’t listen to a lot of music growing up. But when his mother forced him to audition for the school musical in sixth grade, he got a lead role and was hooked on performing.

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y. I went to school in Henrietta.

Q: Why did you decide to come to RIT?
A: Both of my parents work at NTID, so coming to RIT seemed like the obvious choice. After researching some other schools, I knew the academic experiences I’d have at RIT would be much better than any other school I was considering.

Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I am a CODA—Child of Deaf Adults—and I learned ASL (American Sign Language) as my first language.

Q: What types of things are you involved with on campus?
A: During my six years at RIT, I have been involved in many clubs, worked for New Student Orientation, was a University Studies student ambassador and am an alumnus of 8 Beat Measure. I also keep busy creating print materials for various departments around RIT.

Q: For those that haven’t heard of 8 Beat Measure, what do they do?
A: 8 Beat Measure is RIT’s original all-male a cappella group. We released a CD in 2011 titled No Safety Nets, which was named one of the top 10 male collegiate a cappella albums of 2011. The group also released the album Heatin’ Up on Nov. 9, featuring the song “Carry Out,” which was selected for the prestigious Voices Only collegiate a cappella album.

Q: How did you get involved with 8 Beat Measure?
A: During high school, I was very involved with music and I was nervous that I would no longer be able to do so at RIT. I saw 8 Beat Measure performing at the Liberal Arts Orientation and I knew I had to audition to be in the group.

Q: What kind of shows do you put on?
A: The group has two major concerts a year—Acappellaween, a Halloween-themed concert, and Chill Beats, an end-of-the-year showcase of the group’s best music. 8 Beat also does various performances around campus and the Rochester area.

Q: What was your favorite event?
A: We were able to work with a class of Penfield High School music students, sharing our love of music with them, performing a concert and representing RIT. After many e-mails and meetings, we also got to perform on stage in the Gordon Field House with pop band 3OH!3 when they were here in 2010. That was the most amazing thing I have ever done.

Q: What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
A: I am very thankful for my supportive and very generous family, as well as my great friends. Without these two groups of people, I would not be the person I am today.

Q. What advice you would give to other RIT students?
A: Do not take college for granted. Enjoy every moment, try something new and be nice!

For more information about the a cappella group, go to

Compiled by Scott Bureau.

Matt Gregory compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact him at with suggestions.