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Course Offering Information

Harmony University

Course Offering Information

The below are courses offered during Harmony University 2018. 

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All Courses and Descriptions

Monday to Friday, same times, same instructor. You are able to select about 85% of these classes, but a few are reserved for people in each college.


Advanced Rhythm Reading Concepts
Learn traditional counting systems (Kodaly, Takadimi) so you can decode rhythm…all by yourself!  Students will be able to count, then add word sounds, then sing difficulty rhythm passages.  Barbershop singers are wonderful at rubato (free rhythm), but can use some help with advanced rhythms.
Arranging 1
Learn the basic principles of arranging in the barbershop style. Arrange selected portions of songs. Bringing a copy of the Barbershop Arranging Manual is highly recommended. Copies will be available for purchase in the Harmony Marketplace. *Prerequisite Theory of Barbershop Harmony + you must be able to read music.
Arranging 2
After learning the rudiments of arranging, learn more secrets of barbershop arranging. Gain insights into song selection, and arrange larger sections of songs. Bringing a copy of the Barbershop Arranging Manual is highly recommended. Copies will be available for purchase in the Harmony Marketplace. *Prerequisite Arranging I or strong music reading and analysis skills. 
Arranging 3
After learning the rudiments of arranging, learn the secrets of barbershop arranging from this master arranger. Gain insights into song selection, analyze published arrangements and arrange whole songs. Bringing a copy of the Barbershop Arranging Manual is highly recommended. Copies will be available for purchase in the Harmony Marketplace. *Prerequisite Arranging I or 2, strong reading skills, and basic chord analysis skills without a keyboard. If arranging 1 was difficult, take arranging 2 next. 
Barbershop Conducting Techniques for Music Educators

This directing course is intended for music educators who are wishing to learn more about BHS conducting gestures who may already be familiar with our style (or new to our style). If you are not a degreed music educator, please select another course. This class will prepare you to be more comfortable with Barbershop style directing…it’s a little different than what you learned in college! Hands-on conducting skills will allow you to more clearly show your intentions in our style. We will provide multiple directing opportunities in a collaborative learning environment.

Barbershop In Our Changing World

Is your chapter aging and struggling to grow? Is your audience shrinking? Generational and societal changes over the last 50 years have had dramatic impacts on non-profit and fraternal organizations, and barbershop is no exception. We’ll examine these changes and their effects on your chapter, then learn specific strategies to use them for your advantage.

Barbershop's Special Chords and Voicings
Geek out about our special chords with Dr. David Wright, perhaps one of our most influential barbershop arrangers of all time.  Long time barbershop singers might not be able to say what it is, but they know it when they hear it and sing it…those wonderful barbershop chords!  But what is so special about our style, our voicing choices, and chord vocabulary?  Let David explain how we are more than 6 chords in TTBB voicing.
Beginning Rhythm Reading Concepts
This class is for people who are VERY uncomfortable reading rhythm figures in music, and will help you learn basic rhythmic concepts to quickly apply in your barbershop music. Notation identification, counting, and early concepts in swing will be covered. Come learn to read rhythms in isolation!
Bel Canto Basics for the Barbershop Singer
This week we will go through Bel Canto principles step-by-step, integrating this understanding into our barbershop bodies. Overall vocal production will be addressed, including: air management mechanics, tone quality, resonance, timbre, legato, singing, articulation, tonal center, control, vocal cord function and health, as well as synchronized singing with others, whether in quartet or chorus, as we begin to understand ourselves as optimal acoustic resonating instruments designed to easily and effectively amplify sound.
Better, More, Faster!
What can we do as a musical leadership to better guide our singers to learn their music quicker, more accurately and to perform it more successfully from the very beginning?  Tackle the biggest hurdles for our largest demographic, the small to mid-size choruses in both BHS and SAI.  We will explore how we can get our choruses to a higher level of music and performance. Through tags, rehearsal techniques, sectional strategies, basic music theory, vocal pedagogy and free technology (!), we will get the tools your musical leaders need in order to foster a positive and motivated learning environment in your chapter meetings.
Building and Marketing To An Audience

A cappella music is experiencing a resurgence, but is your chapter benefiting from it? Are you struggling to find and retain an audience? Creating awareness for your chapter requires more than an advertisement in the local paper. We’ll review audience needs and how to align chapter desires with them, as well as partnerships and other relationships that can help you grow your audience. We’ll examine your chorus (the public face that you present in your marketing) and how that helps or hurts your efforts. We’ll also review marketing techniques and their effectiveness, including social media, email marketing, SEO/SEM, and more traditional forms.

Care of the Senior Voice

We are never too old to sing our best! This course will help anyone who believes that singing at a high level is impossible past a certain age. Re-establishing the importance of the basic fundamentals of good singing will be a high priority in this course, geared towards the challenges of our voice past the age of 60. Vibrato, breath control, pitch issues… let Ron help you as a singer OR leader of singers!

Choral Methods
Learn practical methods to take your skills to another level. Diagnose and resolve common problems with ensembles, develop and refine your own concept of quality singing, develop effective rehearsal techniques, and fine tune the delivery of your instruction.
Chorus Leadership Goal Setting
This class is for our participating chorus leaders in the coaching pod.  You are receiving 4 hours of intensive music and performance training, but without the support of administrative and leadership training, you will not reach your full potential or goals.  Your musical talent is unquestioned:  let us help you in your leadership. Goal setting is the action planning phase of good leadership. Every leader recognizes that setting and achieving goals is the key principle of effective change and growth in their Chapter. Goals support the long-term vision of the Chapter, focus the energy and motivation of the team members, and result in higher levels of achievement
Chorus, Cults, and Charisma
The sociology of religion provides models to illuminate many aspects of international barbershop culture, and while barbershop’s cultish ways may damage its public image, they offer as compensation the opportunity to generate those peak experiences known to sociologists as ‘charismatic encounters’. This class is both analytical and pragmatic. It provides models to understand what we do already, and thus to make informed strategic decisions about how we will operate in the future. As cults go, barbershop is pretty benign, but charismatic social relations can be used for good or for ill.
Coaching Apprentice

Prerequisite:  Coaching Observer and application:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc2c14B_qjluCKzDDTDzmqvsldptz34LG_RZfGi-O8F_DGUIw/viewform

Want to learn how to coach at the top level?  This is the second step in learning how to coach:  First you will watch our master coaches work with our HU quartets and choruses, then you will be gently guided to coach under the watchful eye of our master teachers.  An online application is required for this class, and will will only accept 20 students.  The application is on the Harmony Univerisity Website.  CAP’s are asked to attend both morning (10:30 am) AND afternoon (4:30 pm) sessions, as well as our EARLY BIRD class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8 AM.

Coaching Observer

Want to learn how to coach at the top level?  This is the first step in learning how to coach: Watch master coaches work with our HU quartets and choruses.  Dean Gary Plaag will assign you to a variety of sessions where you will have the opportunity to watch our coaches work with groups.  After the session is over, you will have the chance to ask questions of the coaches about teaching strategies and why they made “that” choice. You will NOT be in front of groups coaching in this program, you will only observe.    You may select morning observer, evening observer, or both sessions.  Limit 20.  Application Information:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc2c14B_qjluCKzDDTDzmqvsldptz34LG_RZfGi-O8F_DGUIw/viewform

Conducting at the Speed of Sound and Story
This course will teach students how to solve several common pitfalls as a conductor and explore  how to inspire expressiveness from the ensemble through the speed and intent behind gesture. This class is open to established as well as new and aspiring directors.
Conducting Techniques - BHS Front Line Directors

This directing course is intended for front line BHS directors who are currently working with a chapter. If you are not a front line director, please select another course. This class will prepare you to be a better director, from emerging to master level. Review conducting basics while applying another level of musicality and artistry in the gesture. Hands-on conducting skills will allow you to more clearly show your intentions in our style. We will provide multiple directing opportunities in a collaborative learning environment.

Conducting Techniques - New and Aspiring Directors

This directing course is intended for barbershoppers who are ready to take the plunge into chorus directing, but have not had the chance to lead their own BHS, HI, or SAI group… yet. This class will prepare you to be more comfortable with Barbershop style directing! Hands-on conducting skills will allow you to more clearly show your intentions in our style. We will provide multiple directing opportunities in a collaborative learning environment.

Do Less and Sing More
Is your chapter spending more time on non-singing “jobs” than on singing? Is it getting harder to find volunteers for those jobs? We’ll review ways in which you can increase member and audience satisfaction by doing less and singing more, and how to get off the ”financial hamster wheel” so that decisions are not driven by chapter financial needs. We’ll look at free and low-cost resources available to aid with chapter operations, performance, marketing, and other needs, and we’ll review tools, services, and other solutions that you can begin using immediately.
Dollars and Impact: The Virtuous Circle of Getting Grants for Your Chapter
The Great Northern Union Chorus has raised over $350,000 in grants from public and private sources over the last six years.  Every dollar raised builds the impact GNU can make in its communities while supporting the chorus’ ambitious budget.  By the end of this interactive class, led by the architect of GNU’s grant strategy and the Society’s CSO, you will have built a grantraising plan that your chorus can immediately begin executing over the next 12 months.
Ear and Interval Training
This class is an introduction to develop your aural skills and interval recognition in real time.   We welcome long time barbershop singers, music educators, and people who want to fine tune their musical ear! We will explore exercises that develop the ear, strengthen interval recognition, sight reading, and aural memory.  It’s more than “here comes the bride” for P4!
Everyone Knows That Great Communication is Critical, So Why Aren't We Better At It?
This fast-moving session will share insights into how and why we communicate the way we do that is not widely known or understood by most people. Going well beyond behavioral descriptors and instruments like DiSC or Myers-Briggs, this session will arm you with new means of understanding how your fellow family members or chorus members are processing the information you are giving them. If you have ever been frustrated by others’ lack of follow-through, half-hearted efforts, or “messed-up communications” you won’t want to miss this session.
Fundamentals of Music Notation
Are you a barbershopper who never got around to learning how to read music as well as you hoped?  Learn the basic building blocks of music. Learn note names, scales, notation, key signatures, time signatures, etc. We suggest the purchase of Music Fundamentals For Barbershoppers. (Available for purchase at Harmony Marketplace HERE) or online music tutorials to refresh your notation skills, HERE. Take this class before theory 1. 
Good to Great
Based on the best-selling book by Jim Colins, explore leadership principles to change your chapter or quartet from surviving to thriving: from good to great. Please purchase “Good to Great and the Socials Sectors” in preparation of the class. Available online for under $12 @ Amazon. This is a 35-page booklet that supplements the much longer original book, addresses the needs of non-profits, like the Barbershop Harmony Society.
Growing Your Chapter
A cappella music is experiencing a resurgence, but is your chapter benefitting from it? Are you struggling to find and retain members?  Most participants are attracted to singing for the fun and camaraderie it provides, not for performance or competition.  We’ll review member needs and how to align chapter goals with them, as well as partnerships and other relationships that can help you grow your membership.  We’ll examine your chapter “persona” (the public face that you present to potential members) and how that helps or hurts your recruiting efforts.  We’ll also review marketing techniques and their effectiveness, including social media, email marketing, SEO/SEM, and more traditional forms.
How Barbershop Will Improve Your School Choirs
Let Dr. Jefferys help you with the HOW of using barbershop literature to sharpen your student skills in A Cappella singing.  You can have it all: your traditional choral literature will improve with the skills barbershop teaches, but it’s more than just putting the charts in the folder.  Even in college choirs! This course is open to music educators attending Harmony University, even if you are not enrolled in the music educator college.
How to Bring Bel Canto to the Risers
When everyone is doing “their own thing” from a vocal production standpoint, sometimes we get very mixed results on the risers. By synchronizing a few basic body mechanics through the bel canto understanding, we can optimize our synchronized singing in fast and easy ways. Join Debra Lynn, as we learn how to bring a variety of levels of singers onto the same page, helping them to speak one language. Learn fast and easy ways to tune, stabilize, resonate and create ownership of extraordinary results.
How to Effectively Bring Barbershop Outreach to Your Community
Spend an hour with the BHS director of Outreach on ways to bring barbershop to your community.  It’s more than advertising, membership drives, or school visits.  Come learn why we are now connected to hundreds of thousands of people who love barbershop and barbershopers.
How to Maximize the Contribution of Your Chapter Members
In this session, Doug Brown will share multiple approaches and lessons learned to getting more and more engagement and involvement from your chapter members. You can help make more of your leadership roles easier to fill and be properly executed.  This is particularly critical when you are leading smaller groups, to begin with.  In addition, you will learn how you can minimize the impact of a “single point of failure” and avoid disasters.
Leadership for Directors
Being a director is more than conducting and making musical choices.  You are a leader of men! Besides attending meetings, you must communicate the vision and culture of the group on a weekly basis.  We spend so much time working on the musical elements of our directing, but let’s dig into the people skills leadership style required for directing.
Level Your Quartet with Bel Canto
Oftentimes, when four people come together to form a quartet, singers bring their unique timbre and quality of sound to the unit. Sometimes this mix and match doesn’t lock and ring with ease. Learn how to make small adjustments that create huge positive impact in your overall quartet sound. This class will be designed for both individuals in a quartet, quartets, and those interested in forming a quartet. We will use Polecats for our application of these principles and sing our way to better results.
Marketing and Public Relations for Barbershop Groups

How can we share with the world the joy of Barbershop in our lives if the world doesn’t know about us? Learn do’s and dont’s from long time BHS staffer Brian in this class about marketing, public relations, and how to grow your social media impact. Our core messaging needs to be part of every conversation with external audiences. You are bigger when you make the worldwide barbershop movement bigger.

Music Educator Seminar
If you have taught music for 1 year or 40, the first time you are immersed in barbershop it can feel strange and confusing! Start every day with other music teachers thrust in a barbershop world. Topics include how to use this style in your classroom, performance practice (why do you ignore the written rhythms in ballads), vocabulary (swipe? tag?) and style differences (vibrato, holding tonic chords). Each morning will have the opportunity to ask about what happened the day before and translate into educator language. Kirk is formally trained high school music educator and well established in barbershop traditions…and also pretty funny! This class required for music educators on scholarship, but all practicing music educators are invited to join us each morning.
Next Generation Chorus
Come be a part of Harmony University PREMIER chorus for guys aged 25 and under! You will sing top-notch repertoire with guys your own age and perform on the Saturday night show. This chorus is always a highlight of the week. This year’s director is Andrew Wheaton, gold medal tenor of Forefront and Artistic Director of the Thoroughbreds. Your section leaders? Rooftop Records, 2016 11th place quartet!
One Concept to Rule Them All
Singers: get out of the left side of your brain!  How would you like to improve vocal placement, synchronization, breathing, onsets, forward momentum, phrase endings, artistry and much more with only one simple, effective and cutting edge concept?  Then this may be the class for you. Take part in this holistic approach to singing (and music in general) that combines visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles together 100% of the time.  Whether you’re a music educator, director, seasoned musician or an emerging performer, this class will leave you wanting more!
Outstanding in Front: Me, a director?
Have you ever been asked to lead a group of singers – your section, or maybe even the whole chorus – and felt like you really didn’t know what you were doing? Have you ever wanted to, but been shy about volunteering because you weren’t sure how? If you like the phrase “No experience is necessary”, then this class is for you! Gain basic understandings conducting techniques, vocal techniques, and leadership techniques, and leave with practical exercises so you can get started on the road to become a musical leader.

Personal Leadership in Action
What is your personality style, and how does this influence your leadership traits? Work with our leaders who can share best practice strategies and then have us all apply this to barbershop chapter, district, and society leadership. Topics include:

  • Monday: 5 Leadership Practices
  • Tuesday: Feedback: the Breakfast of Champions
  • Wednesday: 5 Leadership Role
  • Thursday: Chapter Member Audit
  • Friday: Setting and Achieving Goals
Rehearsal Techniques
Let Dr. Jefferys help you with the effective rehearsals, both as a quartet member planning your time OR as a director or music team member who wants a productive rehearsal for the group.  Rehearsals are more than running through songs…it’s science and art.
Score Study Meets Rehearsal Planning
Learn how to create an aural image for a song before handing it out to your chorus/quartet. This course will offer various perspectives on score study and how to use it to set goals and create a rehearsal plan to accomplish those goals. Each student will have the opportunity to receive guidance through this process on a song of their choosing and will practice running rehearsals that aim to achieve your goals.
Sight Reading ABCs
This class is a introduction to sight reading using tools such as Kodaly hand signs, solfege syllables, and rhythm reading. In this class you will learn to isolate the different elements of sight reading: aural skills, pitch development and rhythm development. After these three elements have been isolated we will combine those skills to create successful sight reading!
Sing It and They Will Come
Discover how to use your biggest assets as a group to your best advantage and encourage others to be a part of it!  Whether you’re looking to increase the size of your chorus, choir or improve the balance of men to women in your group, this class will share concepts that have a greater than 95% success rate for those that employ the concepts found in this class.  You do not need to be in charge of membership and no prior experience is required to attend this class!
Songwriting: Songs For a New Generation
Learn to write songs that will feel both contemporary and familiar to modern barbershop audiences. We’ll learn to use the expanding musical and verbal vocabulary of contemporary barbershop music to write chord-ringing songs that will be loved by singers and audiences alike. Everyone from beginners to experts are welcome.
Sound Management 1
Focus on the individual vocal skills associated with creating a better choral tone and how to teach the skills in both a group (full chorus / small group) setting and one-on-one. Topics: (1) Tension release and alignment, (2) breathing (support/control), (3) tone (onset of, sustaining, registers, releasing), (4) resonance, (5) addressing choral issues caused by tone production. Strongly suggested for first year directors college students and aspiring coaches.
Sound Management 2
Focus on the ensemble vocal skills associated with creating a better choral tone and how to teach the skills in a group (full chorus / small group) setting. Topics: (1) Vowel/formant matching, (2) word sounds/synchronization, (3) just intonation/tuning/chord balancing, (4) riser stacking, (5) classifying voices/dealing with problem voices. Strongly recommended for 2nd year directors college and music educators college.
Sound Management 3
Focus on synthesizing skills from Sound Management I and II, and application of the concepts to address opportunities with your home chorus. Spend time each day a) addressing an issue of the day with 3-5 tools, b) listening and prioritizing areas of improvement of at least one chorus from a class member, and c) teaching skills through a warm-up or craft exercise based on highest priority areas from a video performance. Topics: (1) Tonal center loss (horizontal tuning/flatting), (2) noise (individual vocal issues/vertical tuning, inconsistent production), (3) noise (ensemble synchronization issues), (4) vertical (choppy) singing, (5) phase issues (punched onset, loss of energy at the end of the phrase). Strongly recommended for returning directors college students and music educators college.”
Sustainability: Your Ensemble in Perpetuity
This class will provide in-depth instruction on tools and processes to get your ensemble to financial sustainability. Throughout the week learn how to use the “strategic triangle,” project management, Basecamp, Google Suite apps, and more to become healthier and sustainable group.
Technical Show Production for Barbershoppers
Go beyond the basics with this crash course on show production, geared specifically towards barbershop shows, conventions, and similar events. We’ll begin with a high-level overview before diving into several focus areas such as: Planning and Administration, Effective Sound Reinforcement, Scenic and Lighting Design, and Leveraging Technology (and People!). We also plan to spend some time in the venue getting valuable hands-on experience. This course is intended to increase your knowledge of technical theater and barbershop best practices along with practical applications of the same. While it does NOT touch on script writing, we will spend some time discussing show flow and incorporating non-singing elements. We’ll also talk about what works best for YOU and your event.
Techniques for Effective Rehearsing
This class will use practical activities (leading warm-up exercises and directing/rehearsing songs from the HU repertoire) as the vehicle to identify and practise the behaviours that result in efficient and effective use of rehearsal time. It is focused less on the choice of methods than on their execution: participants will learn both practical techniques and theoretical frameworks through which to understand them that will help them get the best bang for their rehearsal buck in a chorus or quartet setting. The class will consider both verbal and non-verbal behaviours, and all participants will be expected to take a turn leading the group in practical singing activities.
Theory 1
No theory test required: self-select in and out.This class begins with the basics of musical notation, key signatures, and time signatures. Begin construction of major and minor scales by singing them in class. A study of intervals wraps up the class. Learn how the practical application of theory to barbershop can improve your weekly rehearsals.Class adjustments can be made if this is too difficult or too easy! If you think this sounds too hard, sign up for fundamentals of music.
Theory 2
No theory test required: self-select. Starting from Intervals, Theory II continues with concepts like triad construction and identification, and ends with a discussion of seventh chords in root position. Learn how the practical application of theory to barbershop can improve your weekly rehearsals. *Prerequisite: Theory I proficiency. Class adjustments can be made if this is too difficult or too easy!
Theory 3
No theory test required: self-select. Starting with sevenths in root position, Theory III builds on the existing theory knowledge and discusses seventh chords, the circle of fifths, inversions, chord analysis, and voice leading. Learn how the practical application of theory to barbershop can improve your weekly rehearsals. *Prerequisite: Theory II proficiency. Class adjustments can be made if this is too difficult or too easy!
Theory 4
No theory test required: self-select.This class begins with a quick review of Theory III concepts, then discusses chromatically altered sixth, seventh and ninth chords, augmented sixth chords, and the”Neapolitan” (not the ice cream!) Learn basic melodic harmonization and functional analysis of existing barbershop arrangements. This class is the final piece of the theory puzzle. Learn how the practical application of theory to barbershop can improve your weekly rehearsals. Prerequisite: Theory III proficiency.Class adjustments can be made if this is too difficult or too easy!
THINK! How to Grow Your Chapter

A workshop for chapter leadership geared toward exploring and maximizing a chapter’s potential. Re-visit the process by which your chapter achieves success and where success is thwarted. Perhaps chapter administration is too cumbersome. Learn how less governance and more simplicity can reap continued successes no matter your chapter’s goals and desires.

This Is Your Brain on Music

Why is music such a universally vital part of human society? We will investigate the unique properties of the appeal of music and explain why music affects us from goose bumps, hair standing up and brain function… from the inside out.

Tune It or Die
Why do barbershoppers say “sit on that note” and “lift this one up” all the time? Learn how to tune, and spend a lot of time comparing just vs. tempered tuning. This is one of our most popular classes that will help barbershop singers learn how to tune OFF the piano.
Vocal Health and Maintenance
This is a serious but fun overview of vocal health for singers. We will examine many vocal health problems that singers seem to experience time and again, and ways to recover from damage. Lecture and discussion will be used as well as interviews with singers that have been “down the road” with specific vocal problems.
Vocal Pedagogy for Music Leaders
This course is designed to equip directors and chapter vocal leaders with the information and skill to address individual vocal problems using techniques based on current research in voice physiology and function. Highly recommended for first year HU Directors College students.
Vocal Techniques
Correct breathing, resonance, posture, navigating the break, and tone production. There will be multiple opportunities for one-on-one voice experiences, as well as group discussions and group lessons, as well as teacher-led modeling of vocal issues common to performers and directors.
Woodshedding 101: You Can Sing Harmony By Ear
The ancient art of woodsheding (singing by ear with no written arrangement) is often misunderstood.  The style of finding new chords is both thrilling and highly enjoyable!  Master woodshedder and teacher Paul will guide you along this journey and show you tricks of the trade, first in large groups then in smaller groups.  No experience required.