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