Monday, January 26, 2009

January, 2009, #2

Where We Came From

By 1952, a new facet in Barbershop competition was gaining steam--chorus contests. In the summer of 1952, both the Land O' Lakes District and the Johnny Appleseed District held chorus contests with more than 1,000 barbershoppers and members of their families attending each. These were not the first chorus contests in those districts but they were indications of the growing enthusiasm. Others of the 14 districts had chorus contests scheduled for the late summer and early fall months. The first Michigan District chorus contest was held in July of 1952 with nine choruses competing and roughly 2,100 barbershoppers and their families attending.

The first international chorus contest was held in Detroit at the 1953 convention. The winners, the Great Lakes Chorus of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were acclaimed the "1953 International Convention Championship Chorus." Fifteen other choruses competed, and the affair was considered a big success. It was an experiment to test the popularity of the chorus contest idea, but not all districts were represented, so it was not until 1954 in Washington, D.C., that the winning chorus, the Singing Capital Chorus of the host chapter, could be crowned the "SPEBSQSA International Chorus Champions." Some 889 men in 23 choruses wre involved in that contest, which from then on became an official part of the annual convention program.

--From Heritage of Harmony, edited by Val Hicks, published by SPEBSQSA, 1988, for the 50th anniversary of the Society


Wil Veith 2/5
Bud Couts 2/8

100 Ways To Help Your Chapter
(31-40 of a continuing series)

31. Be on the risers (or wherever you normally rehearse) 5 minutes early and be eager to start.

32. Offer to help any standing committee in which you are interested.

33. Videotape the chorus in rehearsal.

34. Turn in your recordings to your section leader anytime prior to the deadline.

35. Volunteer to do anything (or something!).

36. Don't wait to be asked to do a job, volunteer. How will anyone know that you're interested if you don't express your desire to get involved?

37. Bring a portable humidifier or vaporizer along to contests to help keep you and your roommates' vocal apparatuses hydrated.

38. Sing everyday! Use proper techniques of breathing and vocalizing regularly to the point that good singing is natural for you.

39. Return from breaks on time.

40. Bring a tape recorder to rehearsal - and use it.

Super Bowl And Barbershop??

This is certainly an exciting time of year for all those who follow the NFL, and for many who don't. The Super Bowl has grown into a many faceted event. In case you might think that football and chorus singing have no connection, take a look at the following video. The team singing has evidently grown into a tradition at this high school, both at assemblies and pep rallies. It really points out the large number of potential barbershoppers that can be found if you look in the right places. I'm not sure that their front line is as good as ours, but all they need is a little instruction.

The Power of Music

I'm sitting here at my desk watching an 83-year-old gentleman with significant memory loss singing along with "My Wild Irish Rose" on the stereo. He knows his name, and a good many old tunes—and that's about it.

Once every two weeks, I go to the local nursing home to play for the Alzheimer Group's Sing-Along Hour. When I enter the room, three of the 21 residents might actually look at me—the rest are in a misty world. But when I begin to play "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" or "Let the Rest of the World Go By," those tunes become my one and only connection with them, and most of them begin to sing.

What is it about music that makes such a deep impression? Is it the melody? The lyrics? The emotion? A combination of things?

On one occasion we did an experiment with the Alzheimer's exercise class. Everyone was asked to imitate the instructor as she raised her hands high. No one responded. She repeated the maneuver a number of times, as animated as possible speaking first in a soothing tone of voice, then in a lively voice. No response again. Then we passed around rhythm instruments. Tamborines, bells, sticks, etc., were put into the hands of the residents. Then with the accordian, I would simply play a waltz beat with the bass keys—oom pa pah—and immediately 75% would respond. Faces would begin to lighten up, and rhythm instruments would begin to shake. As I'd begin the melody, "Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde," and the instructor would ask everyone to imitate her and raise their hands in the air and shake the instruments, again approximately 75% would respond, doing what they were asked to do.

Music is such an effective catalyst.

At the other end of the stick, I've gone into many classrooms noisy with active, challenging kids, asked everyone to come and sit down on the mat for a few songs, and had little response because no one was paying attention or could hear what I was saying. But if I begin playing a song on the guitar, and singing the instructions,to come and sit down on the mat, I have everyone's cooperation.

And some schools no longer have a music program!

I'm sure you've recognized this effect on seniors when you sing in the homes.

Can you explain it?

Mary Knox

Royal City Ambassadors

Guelph, Ontario

More Potential Barbershoppers?

You saw earlier in this issue that high school football teams might be a good recruiting ground for future chorus members. But how about the zoo? Check this out.
(click on the "up" arrow on the bottom right, then click on HQ)
(This will make the graphics easier to read)

Mystery Revealed

The chapter member featured in the last bulletin was Gary Young. Thanks to Gary for sharing with us and look for another chapter bio section in the first February issue. If you haven't submitted a bio form yet, you can still do so and be part of a future Getting To Know Us section.

Singing On North Prospect

Tomorrow (1/27) will be the third rehearsal in our new location, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 50 North Prospect, Akron. If you haven't checked out the new "digs" yet, here is a big

Come On Down!