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If you have been singing with the same group for a long time there are a few things that start to happen. Like any good team, you start anticipating what each other will do, and suddenly you’ll notice that your tone, style, and rhythm start locking more than ever. Your group has developed a distinct and unified sound and you should be thrilled, only, you’re not. In fact, the tension between members is higher than ever. Maybe you’re annoyed by that person in your group that can’t sing in tune, maybe there’s a singer who always seems to have a cold on a performance day, or maybe someone keeps showing up late to things. These little issues drive you nuts, and no matter how many times your group tries to address a problem, it doesn’t seem to get better. This is a dreaded stage that most bands go through, and sadly, a lot will never make it through.

So what can we do? Stay positive.

It seems like a silly statement, but it really is all about being positive. The reason that tensions are so high is not really because of everyone’s shortcomings, but because of how negative we can all be to each other. In our society we tend to only focus on our mistakes and very little attention is given to our successes. For example, if a kid brings home his report card and he has three A’s and one D, which grade do you think his parents will want to talk about the most? Probably the D. Even though the overall average is quite high, it seems like it doesn’t matter. It’s this same attitude that we bring into our vocal groups, and it’s tearing us apart. Now if we can create a more positive environment, we take the emphasis away from our flaws and actually get to enjoy our accomplishments. The easiest way to do this is to let someone know when they do something right. If we’re singing 80% of the song really well and are only having trouble with 20% of it, shouldn’t that 80% be acknowledged too? Heck yes it should! We need to acknowledge the things we do right as much as the things we screw up. Since we probably do a lot more right than wrong, there should be more positive acknowledgment than negative. It might seem like a lot of compliments to be throwing around, but really, there is a lot of value in saying them. Not only will the person being complimented feel validated for their efforts, but it will also set a new standard for the other singers to strive towards.

Another thing we can do is change the way we address our flaws. Singing is a very personal thing, and it’s easy to feel attacked when someone points out a problem. Even if we try to sugar-coat a criticism with a compliment we can still be hurtful. If I were to say “you always sing the intro beautifully, but that last note is often out of tune,” the focus is mainly on that note being out of tune. To quote Benjen from Game of Thrones, “nothing someone says before the word but really counts.” Instead, when we have a criticism, we might try wording it as a question to avoid making direct accusations. “You sang that intro beautifully. How did you feel about the tuning towards the end?” This phrase is a lot more positive and instead of pointing out a flaw it invites the person to realize the issue themselves.

So, how do you stick together as a group and keep moving forward?

Just try and stay positive.  =)

Kyle Carter
6 Minute Warning