In the fall of 2010, The A Cappella Blog invited every collegiate a cappella group we could find to participate in a survey. Our objective was to develop a better understanding of current trends in a cappella—what groups are or are not doing and to what degree.
Over 300 groups from across the US and abroad responded to the survey. Throughout our 2010 publication season, we will review results from this survey and talk about what our findings mean. We welcome and encourage groups to look over the information to learn, to benchmark and to satisfy their own curiosity.
This edition’s question: How many new members have joined/do you expect to join your group this year?
One of the biggest differences between collegiate and post-collegiate groups or professional a cappella groups is that a group has to expect roster changes just about every year, and to have a major overhaul at least once every few years. Folks graduate, or transfer, or just plain move on to something else. With luck, the group lives on. and so, it’s little surprise that over 98 percent of groups reported that they welcome are welcoming at least one new group member into the fold this year.
Just under 85 percent of groups reported that they expected one to six new members to join their groups this year. This indicates that groups are seeing some movement, and that there is enough of a body of auditionees at colleges and universities to support new membership in almost every group. There’s a steep drop off, however, once we consider groups that are welcoming seven or more new members this year. And so, while there are people interested in joining a cappella just based on sheer lack of open spots, there are surely a lot of good singers getting turned away.
Beyond talent levels, of course, groups are looking to fill holes and find unique voices. Depending on who graduates—all of a group’s tenors, the vocal percussionist—there are going to be specific needs to be met. Meanwhile, a young woman who can sing bass, or a guy who can nail the high notes is probably always going to be a hot commodity, and folks with all-star solo potential are likely to find themselves a home somewhere. All of this, and we’re not even scraping the surface of personality types—a significant factor for some groups’ selection processes.
In summary, the vast majority of groups are welcoming new members this year, but most can afford to be selective enough to only let in four to six people, or fewer.