HomeBlogsdoubleshot's blogDoubleShot!'s Band Blog Entry #4: Laying Down the Law

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Laying Down The Law: The Importance of Drafting Effective Band Policy

Hey CASA!  This is Dave Wilson from Pittsburgh’s All-Vocal Band, DoubleShot!  We hope you all had a great holiday season and new year.  It’s been a while since we’ve posted but it’s great to be back and writing on these pages again.    

A little bit about me: I’ve been singing since the 3rd grade.  It also helped that my choir director throughout grade school was my mother (I had to sing for my dinner…not really, but it does make for interesting conversation).  Since then, I’ve been involved in church choirs, school musicals, the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut, and of course, lots and lots of karaoke.  I’ve been involved in a cappella since my days at Villanova University, where I was a member of both the Supernovas (co-ed) and later the Spires (male).  I’ve been in DoubleShot! since its humble beginnings nearly 4 years ago.  

So as you can probably tell, I’ve been in my fair share of group settings over the years.  One of the biggest challenges I’ve found that each one of those groups has to deal with on a day-to-day basis is the overall management of its members' various conflicts and expectations:  “What happens when I have a last-second conflict pop up and I can’t make rehearsal?  What songs should we sing as a group?  When do I get to sing a solo?  What if I’m running late to a gig; what is the contingency plan for that?  What if I feel one of my bandmate’s habits is detrimental to the group; how do I address it?”

All these questions essentially boil down to this: 
How do you get everyone on the same page and working toward a common goal?

That’s why it’s extremely important to sit down, as a group, and draft a set of rules and procedures designed to provide your band with the answers to the questions posited above when they inevitably arise.  Nearly all of the larger and well-established groups I’ve been a part of have by-laws and policy drafted specifically to address issues of conduct and overall expectations.  Yet there are many a cappella groups out there today that simply “wing it” and manage conflicts as they spring up, which chews up valuable band time that could be better spent practicing, arranging, and performing.  And worst yet, unresolved conflicts can potentially tear down a group from the inside.

DS! put in many hours going through each member’s priorities and expectations and agreed, as a group, on several major guiding principles, such as code of conduct (before, during, and after rehearsals and gigs), rehearsal/gig scheduling, song selection process, quarterly feedback forum (to review individual/band progress), audition process and exit strategy (what to do when it’s time to move on from the group).  In doing this group exercise, you ensure that each member has a voice and is equally represented throughout the process.  And more importantly, everyone is on the same page and you have a way of settling even the smallest of disputes.  Each year it is helpful to review these guidelines, rework them as necessary, and set the overall band’s expectations for following year.

It’s important to remember that these guidelines shouldn’t be written in stone.  They should be organic and develop as your group evolves.

There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing what to do when a certain situation arises.  Having a few rules already in place to deal with these situations will make a big difference.

As always, you can leave comments, email Dave or the guys with any feedback.



Great post

As a director these kinds of posts are always helpful.  Thank you so much for sharing!


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