Frequently Asked Questions about Barbershop
(four part a cappella singing)
Was four part harmony really sung in barber shops?
Yes In the 1800's when life moved at a slower pace and the town men would gather at the main street barber shop to talk about the baseball game and socialize, they would often join in song in the four part harmony that we call barbershop harmony today.
Do you have to be an accomplished singer to sing barbershop?
No Barbershop music is written for the average voice. When you put a lead (melody), a baritone, a bass and a tenor voice together, the chords that are formed make a wonderful harmony that we call barbershop harmony.
Is barbershop singing just for men?
No The Barbershop Harmony Society is a men's organization, and there are two organizations for women (Sweet Adelines International and Harmony, Inc.) that also sing barbershop harmony. In addition, there are a large number of mixed quartets and octets that sing songs in the same style. The closest Sweet Adeline chapter is in Mt. Vernon, OH (Dogwood Blossoms)
What do the wives and families do when dad is out singing?
'We encourage the wives to accompany their men to the meetings if they wish. Some of our spouses have formed an auxiliary organization called the "Chordettes” that support us in many ways. Actually we would be lost without the support of our wives, and families, they play a vital part in the success of our chorus and our shows."
What about young people who want to sing?
We actively support Youth in Harmony (YIH) programs. By this we mean that we promote public school music programs (whether they sing barbershop or not) and assist local high schools in quartet singing and the High School quartet contest. In addition, we welcome student members to our chorus.
Do you have to have singing experience to join the chapter?
No. All you need is the desire to sing and learn and can carry a tune. Any previous musical experience will be a benefit.
Do Barbershop chapters have any religious or racial affiliation?
No Many chapters rent space in churches or synagogues due to the reduced cost of those spaces, but we do not favor one religion over another. We are made up of people of all ethnicities, religions, political beliefs, etc. In fact, one of the items in our code of ethics is "We shall not permit the introduction of political, religious, or other similar controversial issues into the affairs of the Society.”
If I should want to join the Fun Center Chordsmen Chorus, what must I do?
If you are new to the Society, you'll first have to attend three out of four consecutive chapter meetings (chorus rehearsals). On one of these first meetings you will be given an information booklet from our Membership Vice President. After you make your desire to join known, you will also receive a "Membership Application Form" containing the steps to complete for your membership and orientation requirements. The membership portion of the process generally takes no longer than six to eight days. During this time you are welcomed and encouraged to attend chapter meetings and participate in rehearsals. Singing on the risers with the chorus during rehearsals is also encouraged; however, until you are a member of the performing chorus there may be times when we will ask you to rehearse along side the risers, particularly when the chorus is rehearsing for an upcoming performance or contest.
Is there an audition?
Yes at the beginning of the membership process, you will be voice tested to determine whether you have the basic skills which, given dedication and hard work, will enable you to become an active member of the performing chorus. The audition is a simple process that tests your ability to sing in tune, your vocal quality and flexibility, your tonal memory, breathing, and natural voice range. The ability to read music is not a requirement for joining the chorus; however, possessing that ability or having previous choral singing experience will certainly help you learn faster. Remember, we want you to succeed, and will help you do so to the best of our abilities.
What are the contests for and when and how many are there?
Choruses compete each year in a district contest. The winner of the district contest earns the right to represent the district at the international contest -- the "Superbowl" of barbershop, if you will -- competing with the representatives from each of the 17 districts as well as from the international affiliate organizations. This chorus contest, as well as the international quartet contest, occurs during the Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention, held annually in some large metropolitan area in North America. But the real reason we compete is to hear what the judges have to say and to apply their suggestions to become a better singing organization.
I thought this was a barbershop quartet organization. What about quartets?
There are over 2,000 "registered" barbershop quartets in our Society, and about an equal number of quartets who do not go through the registration process. Quartet competitions are held throughout the year, usually in conjunction with chorus competitions; these events are held to determine division, district and international quartet champions. A quartet must register before being allowed to compete in Society sponsored contests; registration also secures a unique name for each quartet as well as "retiring" the names of all International Champion quartets in perpetuity. The Fun Center Chordsmen chorus is presently the home to four quartets, Home Edition®, Bravada®, Good Company®, Chordially Yours, and Late Edition®. They are regularly booked on their own to perform, and most quartet members are also actively participating in the chorus. Serious quartet singing requires a similar or greater dedication to that of a chorus member, and the rewards are many; we encourage quartet singing for all of our members.
® = a Barbershop Harmony Society registered quartet.