A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss


Proverb: A rolling stone gathers no moss.

This is an interesting proverb because many folks don’t realize its double meaning.

On one hand, there’s the idea that if you stay in motion, you’ll never grow stagnant. For a cappella groups, this can be read as a lesson not to rest on one’s laurels. Some groups compete in the ICCAs every year. Some groups release CDs with startling regularity. Some remain insular to their own school or local community. There’s very little wrong with any one of these paths, but if a group relegates itself to only one type of pursuit year after year, it may be missing out on plenty of other exciting opportunities—the chance to tour rather than compete, or to invest in a professionally produced music video rather than a CD this year. Groups that do the same things over and over run the risk of limiting their own potential and also boring their membership.

On the other hand, there’s the idea that wanderers who are too fickle or unfocused to stay in one place never accrue meaningful identities, reputations, or responsibilities. This message goes out to those a cappella groups that hop between different endeavors every single year. The jack-of-all-trades groups that don’t do anything particularly well but sure have tried out plenty of different avenues. While there’s plenty of merit—particularly in a group’s formative years—to trying new things, there is also a critical point at which a group is best served to settle down and commit. ICCA champions are rarely born in one year, but rather through sustained experience to cultivate a set befitting the competition. Similarly, the first time a group ever steps in a studio is unlikely to result in the strongest album that group will ever put together. Once groups have tried different things and determined what’s most important to them, there is an appropriate point for the group to buckle down and focus on what it cares about most.