What is barbershop?
”Barbershop harmony is a style of unaccompanied vocal music characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a primarily homorhythmic texture.
Barbershop harmony is rooted in African-American tradition.”
But to me, it’s more than that. Yes, the musical style is beautiful and intellectually engaging, but that is secondary in my experience.
Barbershop is a community.
BHS is an extremely well structured and supported community-driven organization that runs yearly international competitions and organizes local divisions as well as outreach and educational programs.
The Evergreen District and, more specifically, Northwest Sound - the chapter from Bellevue Washington, is a tight-knit community of learners, educators, performers, and supporters and drawn together by our love for singing.
In this environment I have not only had the opportunity to dramatically accelerate my musical learning, but I have also been able to take on a leadership and educational role.
I’ve had the privilege of joining the artistic team in NWS and taking on the role of primary coach for the chorus. My role includes working with the artistic and music teams to develop emotional, performance, and choreography plans for our music (especially our contest sets), building lesson plans and educational materials to assist with teaching and retention of the plan, and coaching the chorus during rehearsal to teach and reinforce the plan. I also take feedback from external coaches, judges, and the chorus on ways to improve the plan over time.
Because of the supportive community of Barbershop, my experience with NWS expanded to include working with quartets and individuals in addition to the chorus as a whole. For example, the quartet Envoy worked with me to refine their performance for the NWS holiday show.
Board member at large
I was asked to join the board of NWS just a few months into my membership with the chorus. As a board member at large I represented the chorus to the board, reflecting and reporting their interests, questions, concerns, and suggestions.
My term as a BMAL was particularly interesting as it was at the same time as BHS’s “Everyone In Harmony” movement which enabled women to join BHS for the first time - a contentious point for many long-time members.