Give It the Old College Try

Regular Shows

Give It the Old College Try

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…regular shows.

OK, so just about every collegiate a cappella group has a big show at least once a semester, besides a handful of guest appearances at events around campus and maybe even off campus. Still other groups make a habit of competing or visiting other campuses to take part in other groups’ shows. These are all great opportunities to perform, but another idea altogether is to up the ante with regular shows. I’m talking about monthly, biweekly, or even weekly outings.

To the uninitiated, a weekly show may seem like an insane idea, and yet, there are groups that have been doing it for years. Other variations include performances before every home football game, or on some other recurring basis. Such performances require the availability of suitable recurrent performance space—preferably in a public space that will invite a sizeable audience every time out.

But let’s say you pick a time and place for your regular shows. The question might still remain of whether performing so regularly could possibly be worth the effort. In a word, the answer is yes. For one thing, regular performances help groups build their audience. Spectators are often impressed the first time they see a group, and yet its easy to forget about how great a group was when you don’t hear from the group for months at a time. By have a regular, recurring show, fans have the chance to start following a group, bringing new friends along each time, allowing a group’s fan base to grow in a very organic way.

In addition to developing your body of supporters, holding regular performances can be a fantastic way of pushing your group to excel. After all, neither the group nor the audience will have a great deal of fun if they go through the very same show week after week. This means that the group will be pushed to sharpen and refine their performances, tightening up the sound, learning new choreography, and otherwise enhancing each performance. Furthermore, this might be just the thing to push a group to learn new material, constantly expanding its repertoire to keep up with this type of performance schedule.

Regular shows can also lead to a group’s improvement by giving it the unique experience that only comes with taking the stage. Sure, regular rehearsals are invaluable to a group’s success. But there’s nothing quite like the act of actually performing—working out the kinks of stage fright, poise and showmanship in front of a crowd. Recurrent performances are a fantastic way of developing performance skills such that a group will be all the more impressive for its end of semester outings, or showings in competition.

Regular shows help to develop a fan base, push a group to improve and learn material, and provide irreplaceable performance experience. For all of these reasons, we suggest that you give them the old college try.

Competing

Give It the Old College Try

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…competing.

It’s no secret that competition—and most particularly, the ICCAs, are the cornerstone of this website. It’s what drew both of the co-founders to the wacky world of collegiate a cappella, and, to this day, site traffic still sees a serious bump every time we post a report from a competition. But what does a group have to gain from participating in competition?

For one, competing gives a group a clear purpose and reason for polishing and refining its act. It’s all well and good to practice hard before a big show, but competition brings an entirely different element to performance. In heading off to the ICCAs you know that you’ll be putting on your show in front of other a cappella aficionados. What’s more, you know that you will, quite literally, be judged. What more incentive could there be to put your best foot forward?

Beyond scores, placements and awards, competitions carry the inherent benefit of giving groups the opportunity to get earnest feedback. The adjudicators have a background in music, if not a cappella specifically, and can offer an objective and informed opinion on what you’re doing—let you know what is and isn’t working. What’s more your peers in the crowd won’t necessarily all be the friends and family you’re accustomed to performing in front of—on the contrary, they will be people without a stake in your personal feelings, who can share honest opinions on what you’re putting out there.

As an extension of receiving feedback, heading out to a competition also affords you the opportunity get ideas from other groups and network, whether its through simple conversation, or just by watching what others do on stage. Regardless of your group’s level of talent and experience, there is always something to be learned by watching others ply their trade, and competition offers a wonderful chance to see several other groups in the same night.

On top of all of the performance oriented benefits of competition, competing also provides some really different opportunities for your group to bond. There’s nothing like piling into a car and driving long distances, or cramming six to a hotel room, or walking around a foreign city to draw people together and create a common sense of experience. Traveling to a competition is a great way to build community within your group.

And so, competition provides your group a common goal, the chance to get earnest feedback, a chance to network and time to bond. We suggest you give it the old college try.

Creating/Refining Your Website

Give It the Old College Try

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…creating/refining your website.

A group’s website is, in many ways, its primary connection to the outside world. For the uninitiated, it informs visitors that a group exists. Once folks are aware of this, it provides a window into the group’s soul—a deeper illustration of who the group is and what it’s about, offering everything from recordings, to member profiles, to show dates, to a list of your repertoire. While there’s no substitute for seeing a group perform live, checking out its website is often a key lead-in or follow up step for fans to familiarize themselves with a group.

It’s important that a site look professional. Unfair as it might seem, your presence on the web is a reflection on your organization on the whole. If a site is poorly organized, and full of broken links and typos, it can go a long way toward indicating that your group is not a serious one. Such practice can ostracize potential fans, or make another group second guess whether they’d like to invite you in as a guest group. On the flip side of things, a polished website invites visitors in, helps a group put its best face forward, and can lead to an expanded audience and more networking opportunities.

Perhaps the most important function of all for an a cappella group’s website is that it helps people be your fans. A strong website will include an up to date list of upcoming shows, making it easy for supporters to know when they can see you perform live. What’s more, the use of media—be it MP3 downloads, YouTube clips, or something else—can give people the opportunity to sample you work, as well as to share it with the uninitiated, so they can sell your group all the more. In addition, a website provides the opportunity for the public to get to know group members. While some folks may be wary of aca-stalkers, a profile shot and some fun facts can help to show your group’s personality, and make supporters all the more excited about seeing you perform again.

All in all, a group’s website is an awesome source of publicity, a chance to build connections, and a way to communicate with and broaden its fanbase. We recommend you give creating or refining your website the old college try.

Make A T-Shirt

Give It the Old College Try

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…making a t-shirt.

On the surface, making a t-shirt for your group may seem a bit frivolous, and, indeed, like it could be a waste of time. After all, what a could a t-shirt have to do with music, or the success of your group?

Regardless of how good your group is, it’s not going to have name recognition unless people have heard of you. Creating a t-shirt is like creating a walking billboard. It advertises the group in a unique way—putting the name out there for the public to see, and in such a way that its easier for the wearer to use as a topic of conversation, introducing the group to the uninitiated.

What’s more a group t-shirt can be a fantastic way of developing group identity. Like a team jersey, group t-shirts establish a commonality between members, as well as fans, adding to the sense that the group is a cohesive one, and one in which members take pride.

On top of everything else, a t-shirt can be a really fun memento by which group members and their supporters can remember an ensemble. Whether it just features the name of the group, or is littered with inside jokes, either way, it goes a long way toward commemorating a fine time spent together.

T-shirts can function as a source of publicity, group identity, and memories for years to come. We suggest you give them the old college try.

Visiting a Local School

Give It the Old College Try

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…visiting a local school in your community .

As we’ve established in earlier editions of GIOCT, a cappella groups have a lot of opportunities for doing good deeds, for networking, and for building community among their ranks. There are few more effective ways to capture all of these ends in one than by stopping by a local elementary, middle or high school.

While a lot of folks hold the stigma that a cappella music is not cool, you’ll be hard pressed to find people who aren’t at least a little won over the first time they see a contemporary a cappella group live. Not to take anything away from the barbershop or more spiritually-related groups of the world, but they are a harder sell to young people. Send out a collegiate group, covering acts Radiohead to Kelly Clarkson, and immediately make a cappella fun, relevant—perhaps even cool. In making the music so entertaining and so accessible to a younger audience, you’re acting as an ambassador for the a cappella world, and quite possibly setting the foundation for the next generation of a cappella performers and enthusiasts. This is all the more true if you accompany your performances with demonstrations and workshops that help the kids take some a cappella skills home with them.

In addition to fostering a love for a cappella in young people, getting out into the community fundamentally provides the opportunity to expand your audience and spread your name. It’s easy for a collegiate group to remain unknown outside the confines of its own campus. Participating in these sorts of projects puts you out to children and their families, school staff, and perhaps even local media.

Perhaps most importantly of all, in contributing a bit of your time to a school, you are doing the right thing. A small good deed can go a long way in helping your community, bolstering group morale, and helping to develop a good name for you and your crew.

All in all, visiting a local school helps the children and helps you—it’s a win-win. We suggest you give it the old college try.

Raising Money for a Good Cause

Give It the Old College Try

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…raising money for a good cause.

On campuses all around the world, a cappella groups have, with good reason, emerged as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. With this popularity, today’s groups are enjoying more chances than ever to perform at a variety of venues in a variety of ways. This provides the opportunity to become school-wide celebrities, and even to turn a buck or two through ticket sales, performance fees for special events, and the sale of CDs and merchandise. With an influx of revenue, many groups may contemplate what the best use of this money is. Ultimately, what better use could there be than supporting a good cause.

Many groups have elected to hold shows in response to tragedies. In recent years, a number groups have raised money to go toward Hurricane Katrina relief, to respond to the Virginia Tech shooting. Such efforts demonstrate a wonderful social consciousness, and provide supporters with a tangible cause to know that they are supporting, both of which can lead to more people attending a show, and donating more freely to the cause.

Equally important are the fundraising efforts that, rather than responding to a specific event, go toward established organizations. Groups have raised funds for groups ranging from Amnesty International, to local homeless shelters, to the American Cancer Society, to, in one of the more musically appropriate options, the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. Such efforts allow a group to find a particular cause to which it wants to commit, and in so doing, helps to develop the group’s unique identity and values set.

All in all, there are plenty of causes for a cappella groups to support. We suggest you give it the old college try.

Regular Shows
Competing
Creating/Refining Your Website
Make A T-Shirt
Visiting a Local School
Raising Money for a Good Cause
Bringing in a Guest Group
Going On Tour