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In response to Deke Sharon’s recent Competition Tips column: Deke, you've once again displayed your talent for distilling the most important information into a clear, simple document.  Of all the amazing things that CASA offers to the world at large, the wisdom and experience of the writers here is probably the most valuable.  And amazing, considering it is given freely to anyone who wants it!

I’m going to add a couple of my own thoughts about competitions.  I was going to add these as a comment on Deke’s column – a great feature on CASA.org – but then I remembered that I can write a blog entry any time I want – the same as every registered user of CASA.org! – and I thought, that’s a much cooler feature.

So,  First: I want to emphasize the non-competition parts of the competition (or to de-emphasize the competition parts?).  Like Deke says, who cares who wins?  Competitions are opportunities to meet other great musicians, socialize with a cappella fans, refine a great performance set, sing on a good sound system in front of a warm, loving crowd, to try new things on stage, to add new material to your rep or refine old tunes ... there are so many reasons to do a competition, I am constantly shocked that groups DON'T enter.  There are so many benefits that don’t have to do with awards (finding new fans, seeing new places, gleaning ideas from other groups, being inspired by other groups …).

Second, one of the best performance preparations you can do is... performance.  For groups that do a lot of gigs, it's not a problem, and it's also their biggest advantage over groups that don’t perform as much.  For more amateur groups, you want your competition performance to be relaxed, natural, fun for you and the audience.  If you are out of breath, stressing over stage movements, worried about nailing that one passage, it's not going to be fun, natural, or relaxed.  To get past all of those issues, find a way to perform the set repeatedly in front of a real audience.  I did this the other night with a group preparing for this year's Harmony Sweepstakes - we found a room with a small stage, invited some friends (five showed up), and ran through the set.  They told us what we thought, we listened and brainstormed, then we ran the set again.  It improved the second time, partially because of the feedback, but mostly (I think) because we were simply more comfortable because we'd already performed the set once!  What if we had waited until the competition to do the set the first time?  It would have been only that good... just by performing for people, it's already levels better.

Last thing, and it’s something that groups ought to remember every moment they are working on their art: THE AUDIENCE WANTS YOU TO BE GOOD!  People don’t buy tickets to shows that they hope are horrible!  They want to be entertained, they want to hear great music, they want YOU to be outstanding!  In a competition show there might be a couple idiots who want you to fail because then their favorite group will win.  I guarantee the vast majority are there because they love good singing, good music, good entertainment… so WHY NOT give it to them?  There is no reason for you NOT to be amazing!  And yes, this applies to the judges, too - they want groups to be good.

Comments

Thanks!

Great advice...."THE AUDIENCE WANTS YOU TO BE GOOD!".  Very good perspective.

And a belated thank you to taking the time to chat with me at LA-AF.  Your point about the advantages of CASA is true because of the people of CASA.  I came to LA-AF without a group and all by my little lonesome and never felt like I was an outsider the whole day, largely because the instructors (muckety members of CASA, all) were present and approachable.  So thanks again to you and Deke for working to improve the community!

LA-AF

Yeah, LA-AF was amazing, wasn't it? I'm from Maryland so all of the friends from home that I would go to an A Cappella workshop with me was back at home. I forced a friend to come from California and she is sold on contemporary a cappella for life!

 "THE AUDIENCE WANTS YOU TO

 "THE AUDIENCE WANTS YOU TO BE GOOD!"

How amazingly true is this? Many people have to remember that when putting on a show what they would want from an audience-perspective themselves rather than thinking from just a presenter's point of view. Too often do you see people taking this one sided perspective and making really bad traditional and cliché decisions. It is important to know why you are making the decisions that you are making for entertainment. Would that make the performance good for you? If not, why would you want someone else to experience it? I'm not saying that clichés are bad, I'm just saying that bad clichés are bad.

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