While a cappella is typically a group endeavor amidst a niche, but large community, For Your Own Good focuses on what individuals can do for their own betterment in this realm.
There are times in our lives when most of us succumb to short periods of frenzied action when we cram for a test, rush because we’re late to an appointment, or scramble to put together a project or event. Some of this is unavoidable—life happens and we may not get as much notice as we should, or may have different parts of our lives pulling us in opposing directions.
Many aspects of our lives are within our control, though. With some advance planning and commitment, you may be surprised how much you can do to make the most of your potential in a cappella and avoid undue stress.
Work a cappella into your day. Rather than cramming to learn music before the rehearsal by which you need to know it all, use small periods of free time to go over the sheet music and to practice. Consider setting specific times—“before I go to bed I will devote 15 minutes to learning music” or “after my French class, I will spend a half hour in a practice room at the music building next door.” Small commitments can accumulate to accomplish greater ends, and when you’re in the habit of making music a part of your day, it will become easier, and more natural to make time for it.
Protect your voice. While a guitar player can be sure to keep her guitar protected in its case, and a trumpet player can oil the valves and grease the slides, singers have it much easier and harder. No, there’s no external equipment to take care of, and yet singers need to be conscious of how they’re treating their bodies to sing optimally—that can include be careful not to over-extend one’s voice by not singing or talking too much or too loudly; it can mean being careful about what you eat; it can mean making sure you get enough sleep. Everyone’s bodies, and by extension, voices, have different needs but getting in the habit of thinking about how daily decisions will affect your vocals is important for an extended career as a singer.
Think about a cappella. While you need not be obsessive or talk about a cappella to the extent that you turn off mixed company, when you do have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to talk shop with fellow members of the a cappella community, and don’t forget to visit The A Cappella Blog, CASA, RARB and other a cappella media outlets to stay abreast of the latest conversations in the field. Immersing yourself in aca-thought on a regular basis will help to normalize a cappella as a part of your life and leave you better equipped to come up with new ideas of your own to improve your own performance, and ideally push your entire group forward.