The Standard Skill Set for Barbershop Singing: PART I

In my previous article, Two Philosophies About Barbershop Singing—And Their Outcomes, I promised to follow up with this present article.  Well, here it is, even if it is nearly three years late!

The goal of this article is to efficiently enumerate some skills that are frequently overlooked in deference to those most fundamental basics of “getting the words and notes right”.  As a choral director, I believe that the following skills should “come standard” in a choral singer—and that goes for Barbershop choruses, too. Continue reading

Two Philosophies About Barbershop Singing—And Their Outcomes

Barbershop singing can be great fun for singers of many skill levels.  Here are just a few of the more obvious reasons for that:

  • Singing is both fun and therapeutic.
  • Songs themselves are fun.
  • It’s great to have something regular to do–to be regularly active.
  • It’s rewarding to have some place to “belong”.
  • It’s fun to hear skilled musicians perform good arrangements.
  • There’s some level of importance to preserving an historic art form that doesn’t get loads of popular support.
  • There’s a certain thrill that comes from public performance.

In my experience, these are some of the main reasons that keep most Barbershoppers involved.  Interestingly, however, being involved and being excellent don’t necessarily go together.  There are a great many Barbershoppers throughout the world, comprising lots and lots of choruses and a bajillion quartets.  (OK, that’s not an exact number for the quartets!)  Some of these are so excellent that it takes a real expert to discern what they might do better.  Then there are some that are on that track, but simply haven’t been on it long enough to achieve the level of excellence that they will eventually achieve.  But then there are the rest, who never seem to near that level of excellence, even after decades of activity. Continue reading

Patient Curiosity

At a local annual homeschool kickoff event, Kay and I set up a table to display information about our initial round of classes and private instruction offerings.  Eva, who is 18-ish, came by to say hello and it was clear early on that she had no time in her schedule for any further academics, yet she continued to linger for several minutes at our table, reading the descriptions of our course offerings. Continue reading

Sacrificially Honest

At James’ 11th birthday celebration, the kids played a scavenger hunt game in the park across the street.  They came up to me en masse at one point to have me settle a dispute as to which team was the rightful finder of one of the several hidden tokens in the field.  I asked a few questions to determine what had happened.  It seems that one team had first spotted the item, but the other laid hands on it first. Continue reading

Friendly and Confident

I was in a local bike shop last Spring when I was approached by someone who was speaking as he walked up to me.  He said, “You’re James’ dad, right?”  I turned around to see that it was Kyle—a friend of James’, around 10 or 11 years old, who had just attended James’ birthday party a month before.  I remembered him instantly and we exchanged a few kind words before we parted ways. Continue reading