Directing Collegiate Acappella – Auditions

This is the second in a collection of articles, putting together the knowledge I gained while directing the UC San Diego Tritones acappella group. This article describes what I believe is a director’s role when it comes to auditions.

tl;dr

  • There IS talent where you are.
  • NEVER accept mediocre talent
  • Having parts matters, but not nearly as much as people think.
  • Learning music quickly is VERY important.
  • Reading music well is not as important as you’d think.

Talent Attracts Talent

The most important thing is to never accept mediocre talent. NEVER. ACCEPT. MEDIOCRE. TALENT. A small, talented group can still do everything you want. You can arrange around talented people, even if you don’t have all the parts. Whether you’re missing a bass, or a soprano, or a beatboxer, it doesn’t matter. If you have talented individuals, you can perform. If you have people who aren’t there, they will slow down the group and make it more difficult to do what you want. Also, people want to perform with a group that makes badass music. If your group cannot do that, you cannot attract the most talented individuals.

You can arrange around talented people, even if you don’t have all the parts.

For this to work, you DO need people, obviously, but understand that there IS talent around you. You just need to find it. There are great networks and groups online these days on sites like Facebook (and here, soon, hopefully). Reaching out online and in person is great, and it’s even better if you already have some music. Again, talent attacts talent, and you need to get people listening to your music so that they can hear an opportunity to make great music with you.

Musicians Learn Music; Reading is Optional

Nowadays, we are lucky. Because so much music is arranged on a computer, it becomes incredibly easy to export sheet music AND learning tracks. Even midi tracks can be helpful to many people for learning. So good, in fact, that many times reading music well is not incredibly necessary for acappella groups these days. As long as someone can follow along to write notes in their sheet music, and can get the learning resources ahead of time, it ends up not becoming a huge issue.