Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Goofus and Gallant Return to the ICCAs

For part 1 of this article, go to the link below:
Goofus and Gallant are two boys who are always doing right and wrong. They became a staple of Highlights magazine many years ago and have been teaching kids about manners and morals for several decades. Gallant is always right and Goofus is always wrong.
Some time ago (see link above), I sent Goofus and Gallant to the ICCA competition. This year, they are back, with some more life-affirming lessons as you go into battle.
1) When Goofus arrives at the ICCA competition site, he is rude to the other groups, because the other groups are the “enemy.” Gallant is polite and kind to the other groups. He knows that competitions such as the ICCA are great ways to make new friends and meet new contacts. However, he does not give away any details of his set, because this is a competition after all.
Lesson learned: Don’t be a jerk. Competing groups can still be cordial and friendly to each other.
2) Goofus believes that winning the ICCA is the only thing that matters. He drives himself crazy with winning, so much so that he alienates himself from the rest of the group and isn’t able to have a good time in rehearsal anymore. Gallant understands that ICCA competitions come and go, and there will always be something else, always be another gig, and winning the ICCA doesn’t guarantee that your group will become instant superstars forever.
Lesson learned: If winning the ICCA is the only thing that matters, you need a new hobby.
3) Goofus hears a new song on the radio that he likes and thinks if he acts on it now, his group will be the first to premiere the song at the ICCAs. Gallant knows that with over 1,200 collegiate a cappella groups, the chances of someone having the same idea as Goofus are pretty good.
Lesson learned: Don’t put a current radio hit into your ICCA set. You will undoubtedly set yourself up for the possibility that someone will sing that song on the same night.
4) When the last song of Goofus’ ICCA set starts, Goofus smiles, because he knows that it doesn’t matter how bad the first two songs in the set were. This last song has got that extra pizazz that will wow the judges to victory. Gallant knows that the judges are trying to determine who has the best overall set, not the best overall song. Gallant makes sure that all three or four songs in his ICCA set are equally magnificent.
Lesson Learned: If you put all of your effort into one song, the others will suffer by comparison. It doesn’t matter if your last song has backflips, fireworks, high belting solos, and a killer mash-up of Royals and Freebird. If the other two songs in your set are not as magnificent, you have no hope of winning.
5) Goofus hates the performing venue. He complains about everything, from the sound set-up to the acoustics of the auditorium, and thinks the person in charge is an idiot. Gallant respects the person in authority and knows that the company that runs the ICCAs, Varsity Vocals, knows what they are doing, so he will just have to adapt.
Lesson Learned: I’ve seen it time and time again. The groups that lose find something to blame, whether it be the venue space, the microphone set-up, the timekeeper, the person in charge, etc. Guess what? It’s not their fault. Having worked with members of Varsity Vocals before, I can say with confidence that they have their act together and blaming them does nothing to help your cause. And if things seem unorganized or out of place, be kind and ask questions; don’t yell and complain. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
6) Goofus does not hire a coach to work with his a cappella group, because that seems weird and unnecessary. Gallant knows that the groups who have the best shot of winning are the ones who work with professionals, because after all, this is a competition.
Lesson Learned: Hire someone to help, because you can’t do it all yourself.
7) Goofus and Gallant are told the layout of the stage and microphone set-up beforehand. Goofus ignores this information, because he doesn’t believe the size of the space matters. Gallant blocks off a section of the floor with masking tape to replicate the stage size, then borrows microphones from his school to replicate the sound of the space.
Lesson Learned: The dimensions of the space are important. Practice with them so you don’t go in blind.
8) Goofus watches an a cappella group he likes on youtube and decides to “borrow” their choreography, because he thinks no one will know where he got it from. Gallant knows not to steal choreography, because choreography is copyrighted and at least one of the judges will have probably seen the same video. And if Marc Silverberg is there, he will know every choreography move from every ICCA set.
Lesson Learned: I know when you steal choreography. So do most of the judges. Don’t do it.
9) Goofus posts videos of his ICCA set from rehearsal and from shows that his group performs. Gallant knows to keep that kind of information off of the internet, because he knows other groups will see it.
Lesson Learned: If you put it up for everyone to see, don’t complain when the other groups know what songs are in your set. That’s your fault. When in doubt, don’t post it.
Good luck this year.
Marc Silverberg
Follow the Quest For The A cappella Major:


  1. "Don’t put a current radio hit into your ICCA set. You will undoubtedly set yourself up for the possibility that someone will sing that song on the same night." I pretty much count on that happening every year anyway. What's your prediction for Overdone Song of the Year?

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