A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Proverbappella

Proverb: A stitch in time saves nine.

Today’s adage is about far more than protecting the sweet duds your a cappella group wears on stage. For the purposes of this column, we’ll consider the proverb in the context of a cappella group dynamics.

Particularly on the collegiate scene, the experience of singing in an a cappella group may be members’ first time operating without adult supervision—without a faculty director, without mom and dad ready at hand to give advice. These conditions provide plenty of potential for members to grow and develop as individuals and leaders, but they also create the potential for some serious rifts.

Someone doesn’t get a solo. Someone’s song suggestion (or even arrangement) gets rejected by the group. There’s dissent over who the next director should be or whether a particular auditionee should make it in the group. The director sees Bob as undedicated because he’s always late to rehearsal. Bob sees the director as a control freak because he makes such a big deal when someone is two minutes late to practice.

A certain degree of disagreement and friction is natural in any group of people. While common values and building relationships outside the rehearsal room can go a long way toward making a group function more effectively, there’s also a point at which groups are best served when they communicate directly and do so before problems blow out of proportion.

Let’s revisit Bob and the director. While these two may never see eye to eye on the importance of punctuality, if the two can meet and discuss their perspectives they’re likely to avoid deeper issues in the future. Maybe Bob doesn’t realize that not only the director, but the whole group is annoyed with his behavior. Maybe the director doesn’t realize that Bob is hustling across campus to make it to rehearsal because he has a class that lets out just ten minutes before rehearsal starts. Talking and setting appropriate expectations early on can head off longer term resentment that will lead to bigger issues down the road.

Seriously, it may not be fun, but put in the one stitch now to seal the little hole. You’ll spare yourself wider tear a couple months down the road.