With the start of the new academic year, scholastic a cappella groups around the world are coming back together after the summer apart, holding auditions, and, of course, welcoming new voices into the fold. In a post inspired by our friends over at Uplift Events (http://www.upliftevents.com.au/), today we’re looking at five reasons why team building is essential to your group’s success.
1. Establish comfort. Whether you’re welcoming new group members or bringing the old band back together, there’s inevitably a certain level of trepidation at the start of a new year and the new group dynamics that come with it. Rehearsals are not as productive as they should be when people are afraid to talk and performances aren’t as good as they should be when group members don’t trust each other. Taking some time out for group members to get to know one another as people and bond as friends will go a long way toward your group’s long-term success.
2. Establish common purpose. Working as a unit will help group members figure out what they, collectively want out of the year. Is this a competition year? Is this the year you record a studio album? Are you taking the group on tour? These are decisions that well-bonded groups make together; or, at minimum, decisions that the leadership vet with the rest of the group in the early going to get everyone focused and working together toward the same goal.
3. Get to know your talents. Over the course of the year, you’ll get to know your vocal talents—who sings which parts, who will nail a particular solo or provide that perfect backing harmony. In the meantime, though, it’s worth assessing what everyone brings to the table in an organized fashion. Does somebody have a dance background? Talk to her about planning the group’s choreography. Is that soprano a dot-com entrepreneur? Give her the option of remodeling your website. Have a party planner in the mix? Put him in charge of planning social events for the group. In any a cappella group there are usually plenty of hidden talents that can help the group well beyond the music itself, and taking the time to team build early on will help you identify what everyone brings to the table.
4. Inspire creativity. You know that old cliché, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? In Stephen Davis’s 1997 “biography” of Aerosmith, Walk This Way, he references guitarist Joe Perry talking about the group’s (now relatively) recent years sucking because they were recording piecemeal, splicing together instrumentation they each recorded separately rather than coming to the studio together, when so much of their energy and artistry stemmed from the way in which they complemented and built upon one another’s contributions performing together. Bring together a bunch of motivated students, get them comfortable and operating under a common purpose, and it’s remarkable what they’ll dream up in collaboration with one another. Team building is the first step to getting that train a-rollin’.
5. Present a united front. While it’s not a perfect indicator, when I walk into an a cappella competition, I can often pick out successful groups from unsuccessful ones long before they set foot on stage. The members of successful groups can’t stop talking with each other, can’t stop singing, can’t help themselves from traveling in packs. They wear their stage garb proudly throughout the evening, they high five and chest bump. Less successful groups tend to be more split off. The group members show up in their own cars and change into their gear at the last minute before taking the stage. They spend their time texting on their phones with people outside the group. In short, it’s the groups that took the time to build their teams before they arrived that appear the most at ease, and that offer every indication that they actually want to be hanging out together, competition or not. They thrive as a unit because they are, in so many ways, unified.
Team building, in and of itself, isn’t going to win your group awards or result in a sensational sound. It is, nonetheless, one of the key building blocks to start developing community in an a cappella group, and laying a foundation from which to construct a truly stellar ensemble.