It seems more and more frequent that collegiate a cappella groups are run like businesses. Groups sell tickets to shows and record with an eye toward maximizing profits. They organize annual retreats, and coordinate tours far from home. They set short and long-term goals to determine by what point they should win CARAs, or ICCA championships, or make it on The Sing-Off.
There’s nothing wrong with setting goals. In fact, it’s a healthy practice when it comes to picking a direction and focusing your group’s efforts. When it comes to lofty goals, though, they need to be accompanied by the recognition that it’s OK if you don’t exactly meet them.
Say you’re the aforementioned group that is dead set on winning an ICCA championship in the next three years. What happens when three years go by and the competition gets stiffer, and you get a couple raw deals from judges, and one of your soloists chokes, and you never even make it to the Finals in New York? Does it mean that all is lost? That your group should disband?
To quote a great Aerosmith lyric, derived from a greater Ralph Waldo Emerson thought, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” Our goals set us on a path, but the results they lead to might not be exactly the one we hoped for—and that’s OK. A cappella groups are a wonderful way to build community, travel, and make music, and if you’re accomplishing these ends to the best of your group’s ability, and cultivating experience along the way, then who’s to say the journey isn’t worth your while? Strive for your goals, but don’t forget to celebrate everything you accomplish along the way.