During tenth grade, I had the idea of creating an a cappella group within the general high school choir. This ended up being an all-girls group simply because of who was interested, but over the course of the year I was responsible for leading and organizing performances and rehearsals for our group of around ten members.
Finding times to practice proved to be a challenge, because even though the group was student-run, we had to have teacher supervision on campus. In order to accomplish this, we had to coordinate with all of the members and Ms. Trefren, our choir director, but most of our rehearsals had to be before school. In order to organize this, I created a Facebook group for all of the members to communicate about performances and rehearsals. Here I posted other resources as well, such as links to the sheet music and practice tracks that I created in order for people to practice their parts individually outside of rehearsals.
We performed twice throughout the year, once at the end of each semester, and both songs were arranged for the group by myself and one of my friends. The first performance was of the song The Love Club at the studentainment concert, which we had to audition for. This meant that I then had to communicate with the Student Council to organize set-up and rehearsals on the day of the concert. Here we encountered a few problems, as there was a limited amount of microphones available for us to use. Being an a cappella group, this was an obstacle, as we needed to find a way for the different parts to stand next to each other and all reach the microphones while still being able to hear the rest of the group to stay in tune. Ultimately, we had two or three members sharing each microphone, and the performance ran smoothly. For our second, more challenging piece, we performed Florence and the Machine’s Never Let Me Go at the end of the school year. This arrangement was more complex, but the group’s enthusiasm allowed us to continue with the same amount of parts, even after one of our members left the school at the end of the first semester.
One of the biggest challenges I faced as a leader was managing both of my roles as leader and as classmate. As the majority of the group’s members were in my grade, I was close friends with most of them, and this made it challenging in terms of discipline. Because most of our rehearsals were before school at 8:00, certain members would come to practice late or skip it completely. I found it very difficult to encourage their punctuality, as I did sympathise with them, but it was also necessary for the group to use its time to its best ability. This became frustrating at times, but with practice I learned to separate myself as a leader from myself as a friend, and managed to stay in control and keep everyone on track.
Although the management of the high school a cappella group did not include any finances, it did demand a lot of skills. I had to stay completely organized in order to make sure the group received their sheet music and part tracks as well as setting rehearsal times that worked for everyone’s busy schedules. Unfortunately we were not able to continue the group the following year, as too many of our members left the school, but my time as a leader taught me a lot about how to manage people and resources in order to accomplish a goal. This experience has prepared me for my role this upcoming year in twelfth grade as co-leader of the high school LGBTQ+ human rights group, and I am looking forward to developing the same skills further here.