Keep the Big Picture in Mind and Enjoy the Journey; Lessons from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Not So Different

In this special, seven-part series, we are working through the Harry Potter series, book by book, to discuss the lessons each book can teach a cappella groups. If you haven’t read the books before, beware—this series does include spoilers.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows removes us from the comforts of Hogwarts, as we join Harry, Hermione, and Ron on a search and destroy mission in pursuit of the Voldemort’s horcruxes, to culminate in the elimination of Voldemort, himself.

Along the epic journey—which includes a bank heist, a term of captivity in Malfoy Manor, and an unexpected trip back to school, there’s plenty of room for the crew to lose its way. Heck, Ron actually does go AWOL for a bit, fed up with pace of the journey and his perception of Harry moving in on his girl (not to mention a Gollum-like reaction to a horcrux). But out of all of this turmoil, the gang does pull together and muddle through and destroy each and every piece of their foe, which in turn allows Harry to rid the wizarding world of the Voldemort threat, once and for all.

There’s another, quieter lesson that JK Rowling embeds of denouement that follows the climactic duel between our hero and villain. Harry holds the elder wand, and with it the potential for immeasurable power. Rather than keeping it for himself, he places the wand at Dumbledore’s grave (or, in the movie, snaps it in two), in so doing reasserting his own focus—not to achieve ultimate power himself, but dispose of the evil Voldemort and make room for peace, safety and happiness for those around him.

There is no shortage of distractions available in the realm of a cappella. It seems each year yields two or three new compilation CDs and noteworthy live competitions. As much as it’s great that the a cappella universe is constantly expanding, it can be tempting for a group to chase any shot of glory, taking a scattershot approach that leads to hurt feelings when the group doesn’t succeed, as well as a failure to enjoy the sweetness of any victories they do achieve.

Big picture—and I’m talking really big picture—every group’s goal should be to offer its own unique voice to the a cappella melting pot, and to leave the a cappella community better for their having been a part of it. Sure, it’s great to earn some recognition along the way, but the a cappella alumni who end up looking back on the experience most happily tend to be those who can contextualize their groups’ places in a community, and the value of the a cappella journey over any set destination. In other words, they aren’t as concerned with having been one of the greatest a cappella groups in the world, as they are with having been a part of a musical genre and movement that they love.

This concludes our seven-part look at what the Harry Potter series can teach a cappella groups. We hope you enjoyed it, and please check back for the rest of our content in this 2015-2016 publication season!