I asked 100 women – all Queens of Harmony and/or current int’l top-ten quartet members – to participate in a survey designed to offer advice to quartets still climbing the regional rankings ladder. The questions address song choice, time management, and coaching strategies as well as interpersonal relationships among quartet members and advice on how to deal with disappointment.
Here are some of their responses.
Today’s Question is:
Q. Did your quartet change members at any time from your first regional contest until now/winning gold? How many times? If multiple times, was it the same singing part that was replaced? If you have changed members, how has that change affected your quartet personality-wise and scoring-wise? Do you agree with the statement “Sometimes a member change has to occur in order to win a crown.”?
A. We had three baritones. We won not because of the new baritone, but because of the different dynamic that a new person created. We realized that we had something special, and we really buckled down and worked hard to make the most of it. Partly because of the new member, we added two new coaches who brought a different perspective.
A. Yes, we have changed one member since winning regional. The change definitely helped our personality as there was frustration beforehand that now doesn’t exist. Scoring wise it also helped! I agree with the statement that sometimes a change has to occur. People are at different places in their lives and sometimes have different priorities. Competing at a high level requires a high level of commitment, if all members are not equally committed to the quartet and their goals, it makes it very frustrating for those that are committed which can lead to internal discord. Also, sometimes a singer is at a different level vocally and if she isn’t able to pull up that level, the sound will suffer.
A. From our very first regional we’ve changed basses twice and the lead once. We never won regional with any other configuration than the one we’re in now. Yes, I agree with the statement…if you have a negative personality in the group, you’re fighting an uphill battle. In our case it was a voice thing and the other members before just didn’t have the right blend. In our current configuration, nobody has to ‘work’ to make our voices fit…they just do.
A. I do agree that some member changes have to be made. Circumstances in life, ability, goal changes, health, commitment, are all things to consider as the quartet evolves. We had two tenor and three bass changes.
A. Not this foursome – we won very quickly after being in many other group combos.
A. I actually was a replacement from the “original” quartet – one member had a baby and I replaced her. We went into Regional with that foursome, received a Wild Card and then lost another member. We replaced her and were able to go into Int’l with THAT foursome which is the group that eventually won the crown. Yes, I do believe that sometimes one voice can make/break a quartet. If your ultimate goal is to win a crown, you need to be willing to make changes, no matter what. Don’t know that I could do that, but know that it definitely DOES happen!
A. Our quartet has had two other basses and one other lead before finding this final combination. It’s all about how the voices work together. Our voices just click, so, had the members not changed over the years, we would not have had the success that have today. The original version of this quartet had never placed higher than 3rd at regional.
A. Yes, we’ve had one member change. In our situation, making the change affected our quartet in a positive way…in every aspect of the unit. Out of respect to the member that no longer sings with us, that’s all I will say. I agree that sometimes a change has to occur to win a crown. Sometimes, it’s just not a good fit, either vocally or otherwise.
A. Our quartet changed one member right after we won regional competition; we discussed our upcoming goals and the work we expected to put in and she had just gotten married and was about to begin having children. She bowed out. This was our only member change. We were so new together at the time that i’m not sure there was an effect on the quartet personality. And it’s hard to answer the “scoring-wise” part, except to say that our new member came in ready to dive into the deep end; she learned 11 songs in six weeks and was a full-on member of the group from the first moment. About that last statement: Winning is important, yes, but so are the people. If you’re having musical difficulties, talk about it. If it’s a personality problem, talk about it. If it can’t be resolved, she can quit, or you can break up. Life’s too short to be playing the blame game or singing with people you don’t like.
A. No. We had the same 4 members for over 30 years. But I have sung in other top 10 quartets and it is true that a member change has to occur in order to win a crown.
A. Yes. We had two personnel changes (two different parts) after winning regional. It’s hard to say that changing members wins a crown. In our case, we did win a crown, but no one will ever know whether we would have won one or not with the original mix of singers. I will say that internal quartet dynamics can definitely affect a quartet’s performance. Audiences are pretty smart!
A. We made some changes in one part and yes, sometimes you do need to make a member change in order to win a crown.
A. Changed one part one time. We have continued to rise in the ranks from the beginning. Yes, I agree with the statement “Sometimes a member change has to occur in order to win a crown.” However, not always.
A. Yes, we changed one part, once. It had a big impact on our momentum and calmed our personality mix. It’s about the journey and the teamwork, so I can’t imagine changing parts now.
A. Yes. We’ve had 2 member replacements since winning regional gold. This “hobby” takes up a lot of time, and when you are committed to being successful, you need to sing with people you like and people who have the same goals, passion and drive. It’s not necessary for all, but it’s definitely an option if things aren’t going smoothly. Each personnel change resulted in a slightly different rehearsal vibe, and of course changing personalities. We learn to adjust and move on, knowing that it’s different and we work with it. We’ve also had the input from our coaches about all of our personnel changes. We want to find out early on what changes are necessary to incorporate a new member’s sound into the group.
A. No, we have not changed any members. It really depends on the group. We balance each other out so well, we respect each other and we are very candid. Sometimes people make comments about certain parts or things you have to do in able to “win” but I’d like to think that we’re smart enough to learn. I do believe that sometimes changing a part can create a better sound and therefore produce a better standing but sometimes a change in perspective or attitude can do the same thing.
A. Our quartet changed a member the year before we won the region. Of course changing personnel changes the quartet personality, and hopefully the change results in either the same or higher level of work ethic and scoring (would not be good to change personnel and get worse in those regards!). We didn’t change members on purpose – life happened. So we were fortunate to find a replacement who kept the quartet on track and moving forward according to where we wanted to go. I would not say that “a member has to change in order to win a crown”, though I’m sure in some circumstances that might be true. I would hope that there are quartets who could come up from the regional level and keep the same personnel and make it work.
A. Yes. We changed the same part 3 times……3rd time was the charm for us! Each individual on that part that was replaced brought her own talent\gifts with her. But, the last (and winning) member had the perfect sound we needed to jump to the top. It was magic! Yes, I’m living proof that sometimes a member change has to occur in order to win.