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'The Cup Song' routine clicking with students around Western Pa.

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
West Mifflin Area Middle School sixth-graders Autumn Heatherington, 11 (left) and Mickalee Marchilena, 12 talk about the cup routine from the movie 'Pitch Perfect' Friday April 5, 2013 in the cafeteria of the school in West Mifflin.

A particular movie scene has hit the perfect chord with adolescents looking to let their vocal and rhythmic skills shine.

“Pitch Perfect,” recently released on DVD, is the tale of Beca, a college freshman who auditions for The Bellas, her school's all-girl singing group. Beca, played by Anna Kendrick, sings a song and accompanies herself with a rhythmic cup routine, tapping, twisting and clapping while she sings “When I'm Gone.” The ditty has become widely known simply as “The Cup Song.”

Kids are learning the routine and practicing between classes, after school and at lunch tables across Western Pennsylvania.

“It was different and unique and pretty cool,” says Gabby Sylvania, 12, a sixth-grader at Baggaley Elementary in the Greater Latrobe School District.

Two students at West Mifflin Area Middle School have made it their mission to perfect the routine for a performance in their school's talent show in May. Autumn Heatherington, 11, and Mickalee Marchilena, 12, both in sixth grade, practice the nearly two-minute drill any chance they get.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” says Autumn. “I like the beat and wanted to learn. It's amazing to do the cup thing and sing with it. I wanted to teach other kids so we could all do it as a big group.”

The girls do their routine slightly different than Beca, tapping the counter instead of the top of the plastic cups so as to not smash them. They add the extra element of handing off cups to one another.

Michael Porembka, principal at Baggaley, says he's seen kids improvise when a cup isn't around, using erasers and pencils instead, and sometimes switching up the moves and melody to make it their own.

“They've literally picked up what she does in the movie and are adding new songs and new rhythms,” he says.

In addition to it being a fun group activity, the routine ties into some of the school's curriculum, Porembka says.

“There is a musical component,” he says. “It's not just a movie thing. The kids are linking what they're learning in music, chorus and band to what she does in the movie.”

Adrienne Floro, assistant principal at Quaker Valley Middle School, says every sixth-grade lunch period includes students practicing the routine.

“They do it with whatever object in their lunch can take the place of a cup,” says Floro, who has watched the movie many times with her daughter. “It's so much fun.”

Annie Snyder, director of North Star Kids, a musical-theater-education program with students from all over Western Pennsylvania, incorporated the routine into a performance 30 of her students will debut at a free show on April 7 at St. John's Lutheran Church in McCandless. The students sitting on the stage clicking and clacking away with their cups is an impressive sight, she says.

“There's a great rhythm to it,” Snyder says. “They really do love it.”

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

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