Bringing Alumni on Stage

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #165: Bringing Alumni on Stage

Hands down, one of my favorite aspects of a live a cappella show is the incorporation of former group members on stage.

There are limitations to this model, of course. Incorporating alumni usually means depending on a song that has been in the group’s repertoire for a long time, rather than a fresh selection. By its nature, the group plus alumni tends to sound less rehearsed and polished. There’s often a temptation to give an alum a solo or plum spot on a song at the expense of a current member having that role.

Just the same, when alumni join a performance it lends a sense of the a cappella group as a family—people might come and go, but you’re never not a part of that group. You always have a home. What’s more, as an audience member, it’s a delight to see members from the distant past stand alongside wide-eyed freshmen who are just getting started in their a cappella careers, not to mention their lives. It lends a sense of permanence to a show—that this group has existed for a long time before this moment, and that it is in good hands for the future.

Big Crescendos

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #164: Big Crescendos

When I review a cappella shows, it’s not unusual for me to highlight groups that show care in planning and precision in executing their dynamics. These are groups that aren’t afraid to go soft and small, and by the same token don’t hesitate to flip switch to build up to a monster swell of sound.

A part of what’s great a big crescendo is it transcends technical knowledge. A completely casual fan may not know what’s happening when a crescendo hits, or have the vocabulary to name it, but when it’s done right, you can rest assured that she or he will feel it—a build of excitement and emotion to accompany the surge on stage. 

I love it!

Big Crescendos

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #164: Big Crescendos

When I review a cappella shows, it’s not unusual for me to highlight groups that show care in planning and precision in executing their dynamics. These are groups that aren’t afraid to go soft and small, and by the same token don’t hesitate to flip switch to build up to a monster swell of sound.

A part of what’s great a big crescendo is it transcends technical knowledge. A completely casual fan may not know what’s happening when a crescendo hits, or have the vocabulary to name it, but when it’s done right, you can rest assured that she or he will feel it—a build of excitement and emotion to accompany the surge on stage. 

I love it!

Halloween Mashup

Tuesday Tubin'

This week we present the NYU Vocaholics performing their Halloween mashup.

Making the Most of Your Time

The Competitor's Edge

In this edition, the focus is on making the most of your time.

Make your case.

I’ve repeated all too many times, but it when it comes to a competition like the ICHSAs or ICCAs, your group has twelve minutes to make its case why they deserve to move on to the next round of competition or be crowned champions. A group can’t depend on previous accomplishments, or its entire body of work to succeed in competition—it’s all about what happens in the minutes allotted to a competition set.  

Go the distance.

In my limited experience judging, one of the hardest calls to make can be between a group that performs amazingly well for eight minutes, versus one that performs very well for eleven and a half. You want to reward a group that achieved such a high benchmark and settled for nothing less than top quality. Just the same, it’s hard to reward them over a group that learned more music and put together and sustained a longer performance. Ideally, a group should strive for the best of both worlds—a full and excellent set. 

Don’t go over.

Competition rules vary, but going by the Varsity Vocals standard, going over time means getting docked a full place in competition (albeit with leadership indicating this rule is rarely invoked). With more and more groups competing each year, the stakes are high. Even at the ICCA quarterfinal level, in which two groups advance from each show, you don’t want to count on finishing second. If you’re invested in winning, you need to take care of every factor that is within your group’s control—you can’t necessarily control the work of the sound engineer, or the caliber of the groups around you, or what songs they choose, or if the stage is big enough to execute your choreography the way you planned it. You can plan your time and work in a buffer to ensure you won’t go over, thus staying within the limits of the competition, and not alienating your audience.

How have you seen groups manage time effectively in competition? How have you seen them squander it? Let us know in the comments.

Fun Encores

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #163: Fun Encores

For every Varsity Vocals competition, the night wraps up with the winning group retaking the stage for one more song—an encore.

After hours of watching groups sing with technical precision and care, it can be a real treat to watch marvelously talented young singers cut a little bit looser. Riffing, dancing, sharing their celebration with the live audience—fighting back smiles that might belie the song at hand, trying to figure out how to balance awards certificates with their microphones while singing.

Encores—un-judged, un-scored, without another song to save the group’s voices for, present a rare, raw treat for live audiences, and an opportunity for champions to be themselves in front of an appreciative audience.

I love it!

Next Page
Bringing Alumni on Stage
Big Crescendos
Big Crescendos
Halloween Mashup
Making the Most of Your Time
Fun Encores
Praying
Soloists Who Sound Like the Original Artist
The Wall of Sound
Hold On, We're Going Home
Engaging the Audience
When Someone Nails a Stevie Wonder Solo
1-800-237-8255
Building a Personal Connection to a Song
Dedications
Finesse
Vocal Percussion
Subtle Movement
You'll Be in My Heart
Adapting to the Audience
Adapting To The Environment
From Eden
Song Selection
Embedded Solos
Waiting on the World to Change
Personal Style
The Robot
Tears
Attention
On The Rocks, Sunset Blush