All too often I read with interest either on the Harmonet or in emails sent to me by our members what people think is "wrong with the Society." Not specifically HQ but all levels from the quartets to the chapters to the districts and so on. I value everyone's opinion and when it comes to making decisions for the Society all of the input I've received over the years help guide me in my decision making. I sometimes wonder, however, are we too focused on what's wrong that we are more and more forgetting to celebrate the positives?
I have been thinking a lot lately of the many amazing events or opportunities in the "real world" for which barbershop has played a part even in just the last year. Why just today I was reading the Harmonet posts about paradigms, too much emphasis about contest, relevency in the real world ... if barbershop will ever become mainsteam, etc. Then I see this post from Leo Larivee from Massachusettes:
Last night, my teenage son Kehan was playing "1 vs 100", the new Trivia Game on his XBOX 360. The final trivia question of the night was: "Who started the Barbershop Quartet Society?" Two of the three multiple choice answers were: BING CROSBY and O. C. CASH. He could not remember the third option name, but he told me that he knew it was O.C. Cash because that is the name on my car license plate. Guess it pays to advertise. Kehan felt pretty good getting the right answer when more than 40,000 people got it wrong. (They post how many get each question right/wrong and award points to the ones with the most correct answers). Pretty cool having a Barbershop question in the game and having a son who knew the correct answer :-)
Amidst all this fussing about paradigms and mainstream not one person has responded (so far) with a comment like, "Really!?! That is so exciting. I wonder how they learned about barbershop to make that part of the trivia game. That's so cool that information about barbershop is out there for the general public to learn about!"
Here's another small example: A few weeks ago there was an article about the popularity of a cappella music on college college campuses. We've seen many articles like this over the past few year. The typical reaction in among our barbershop ranks usually comes in the form of comments like, "We MUST take advantage of this ... we HAVE to tell them (college kids, USA Today, etc.) about barbershop. Yada, yada, yada.
But do you know what was different about this article compared to the last few years? It actually mentioned these groups are singing barbershop as well as other styles of a cappella. But did we notice that? No we continued to send around the same old, "We MUST take advantage of this..." messages to each other. A good barbershop friend of mine, Rob Arnold from Ontario, was the only one I saw who pointed out the mention of barbershop "this time." On the surface it may seem small, folks, but it is HUGE.
What else has there been that we've forgotten to celebrate? Ah yes barbershop music on iTunes and a number of other online music distributors, a seven-page article about OC Times in Spin Magazine in January. The Vocal Majority performed at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference in March, Society staff presented at that same convention and will be presenting at the upcoming Natioanl MENC Convention, Chapters and Districts participated in their local state music education conferences, the USA Today article, the XBOX 360 trivia game, American Harmony the movie hitting theaters and Film Festivals across North America, and the hundred and hundreds of ways our chapters and quartets have been written about in their local papers.
And those are just some of the successes on a broader scale. What has your chapter forgotten to celebrate? Do you have a new chapter quartet? A new song you are excited to sing? A better score at contest? More show tickets sold this year? A new director? A recent Youth In Harmony Event?
This is the greatest organization in the world! If you have forgotten that, don't just rediscover it ... celebrate it! If you have something to celebrate in barbershop experience LEAVE A COMMENT!