Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turnover Rate for A Cappella Directors

Found this from the web and finding it pretty true....

By Mike Chin on Mar 21, 2011

In the fall of 2010, The A Cappella Blog invited every collegiate a cappella group we could find to participate in a survey. Our objective was to develop a better understanding of current trends in a cappella—what groups are or are not doing and to what degree.

Over 300 groups from across the US and abroad responded to the survey. Throughout our 2010 publication season, we will review results from this survey and talk about what our findings mean. We welcome and encourage groups to look over the information to learn, to benchmark and to satisfy their own curiosity.

This edition’s question: In the last four years, how many different musical directors (or equivalent musical leaders) has your group had?

Directing a collegiate a cappella group is a tricky thing. In most cases the right person for the job is someone with experience with the group, who’s good at guiding people, but also a talented musician; someone who can lead a rehearsal and take care of paperwork, besides being objective in deciding who to let into the group, and who should get what solo. In an ideal world, once a group found such a person, that person would lead the group for multiple years, and, like a good head coach and/or general manager craft a winning recipe for long-term success.

In collegiate a cappella, the turn over for a group is quite high. It’s rare for a member to stick around for more than four years, and so, assuming the director isn’t an extraordinarily precocious first year, there’s generally a cap of three years on such a presence. But do groups consciously work toward such a system of long-term leadership, or is that top musical position of an annually revolving door? Based upon the groups surveyed, it appears that most groups lean toward the latter, but there is a mixture of approaches.

The numbers show that about 62 percent of all groups have three or four different musical directors over a four year span, and an additional seven percent have more than four different people fill the role (though co-directors may skew these figures). Nonetheless, there is a remaining 26 percent of groups that report just one or two musical directors over a four year span, suggesting greater continuity that may be a result of pre-planning, timing for the group (a year of heavy turnover leaves a sophomore crew to carry the torch), or a super seniors or grad students hanging with the group. There are also those groups that fall under the leadership of faculty directors or alumni who are not bound by the limitations of matriculation and graduation.

Overall, nearly 85 percent groups have two or more leaders for every four years, which demonstrates that leadership in collegiate a cappella is fairly fluid.

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