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.