HomeCollaboration & Stealth: Thoughts On The 2011 CAL Retreat

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One of the many powerful things from #CALRetreat2011 was the idea of collaboration. While solutions may have varied group-to-group, person-to-person, most, if not all of the problems we all face are the same.

* Group with a drinking problem? Check.
* A cappella relationships, marriages and break-ups? A few of those.
* My group is fresh out of college / My group all have kids & mortgages ... Chiggety-check
* My group just wants to talk? Ding-ding-ding. Circle gets a square
* Wah-waaah. I think my group hates me. Check-republic

So hearing that we aren't alone in these issues is a huge help. And having collective experience of all the group leaders plus CASA helps right these problems one step at a time. What we are all attempting to do is in a word, difficult. Starting and motivating a group of 7 to 20 people with no money and minimal time is a fool’s errand.  Rarely in an artistic endeavor do you have an opportunity to collaborate face-to-face with like-minded people. The league is that opportunity.

That said it was stated (OK I stated it) "don't be a stealth a cappella group." To point I was referring to:

* Oh, I have this tremendous idea but I can't share because I don't want it to get around.
* We've been rehearsing but I don't want anyone to hear us just yet.
* Sing-Off ... oh noes, I've said too much.

Again, our strength as a community lies in our communication. It sounds obvious to say because it is -- doesn't make it untrue. Once we breakdown those walls, as community we can make these good ideas great. Luckily as leaders we didn't have to do any "trust falls" to break those walls down so at worst, you have a peer telling you your idea is awesome. And a little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Although I do have a great idea for a stealth a cappella group that will ... well you'll just have to wait until VoCAL Nation 2012.

The Swingle Singers

Maybe it was because the Swingles performed at VoCAL Nation but I think we collectively mentioned them 4219 times give or take. Was it because they were amazing and they had two mid-set standing ovations? Maybe. I think most smart people would believe that.

I, however, am not a smart man. I'm starting to believe their popularity among the CAL faithful is because as a group they are as nice, gracious and welcoming as they are talented singers. They stayed at our homes during VoCAL Nation, worked with us individually and as human beings that goes a long way. There is something to be said for performers that naturally emanate warmth and engender fandom beyond their music. Whatever that is the Swingle Singers have it. Except for their tenor Oli. He's a dick. I’m joking. Remember I’m not very bright.

Related: CAL Directors Retreat 2011 Wrap Up


About the author:
Brian Chambers is the least prestigious graduate of the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Montclair High School. He was also the original member of the Univ. of Delaware Ychromes. He followed that up by being a founding member of Rutgers Deep Treble and Casual Harmony. Deep Treble (at the time) was the youngest group ever to get to the finals at Lincoln Center winning a few VP awards along the way. They were affectionately and officially known as "the anti-christ of collegiate a cappella." Most recently, he founded and served as Artistic Director / Business Manager for The Red States. The mixed rock/pop group went on to be featured in Newsweek, named one of the best 7 a cappella groups in NYC and "best-known of NYC’s coed groups" by Time Out NY. Their first single, Just Dance opb Lady Gaga, was featured on Sing VI and won the CARA for CAL Song of the Year. Their debut album, No Political Affiliation, won both CAL Album of the Year and song of the year a second time.