Should High School and College Groups Compete With Each Other?

Measure for Measure

In Measure for Measure, A Cappella Blog contributor takes a look at both sides of a controversial issue in collegiate a cappella. Please note that the views expressed by columnists do not necessarily represent those of The ACB as an organization, nor do they
necessarily represent the view of individual columnists. The purpose of this piece is to explore issues and further civil, intellectual debate.

At the January 2013 Los Angeles A Cappella Festival (LAAF), high school groups Vocal Rush and Unstrumental competed against four collegiate groups in a pan-scholastic a cappella competition. Remarkably, the high school groups ended up finishing first and second in the competition. In this edition of Measure for Measure we take a look at the statement:

High school groups should compete with college groups.

True: When high school and college groups compete together, it presents unique opportunities for them to network and learn from one another, which, in many ways, is the biggest benefit of competing in the first place. Moreover, particularly for high school groups, it gives them the opportunity to test their limits. A high school group that can outscore other high school groups is impressive, but they set a new bar for themselves when they compete with the collegiate ranks.

False: Competitions pitting college groups against high school groups create an uneven playing field between groups with unequal resources and different experience levels. College groups are more mature and generally have more time to rehearse together. High school groups often have the benefit of faculty directors. When you look at the end products, you’re comparing apples and oranges. On top of that, from the perspective of college groups, on paper, there’s little to gain by topping a high school groups, but plenty to lose in the form of hurt pride.