As featured in The Harmonizer.
3 ways to improve your skills
Each quartet has its own unique issues to confront, so it’s important to know where your own group‘s strengths and weaknesses lie. However, I believe the following three areas can apply to any level of quartet.
1. Get coaching from as many perspectives as possible
It can be attractive to have a single "quartet mentor," and having a main coach to work with and come back to on a regular basis can be extremely beneficial. But Barbershoppers learn and teach in a variety of ways, and sometimes a quartet doesn’t know exactly what kind of next-level guidance they need until they experience it. Work with different coaches, experience different teaching styles, and soak in different perspectives. Some coaches may not connect with your quartet at all,
and you can leave those in the past. But you might get a nugget of wisdom from an unexpected source that can change the direction of your quartet for the better.
2. Duet like it’s your job
If your quartet is working to improve unit sound, whether for blend, resonance, or tuning, nothing will accelerate progress faster than dueting. Lead/bass, bass/baritone, baritone/lead, and lead/tenor are your most effective combos. This is beneficial even if none of the four of you consider yourselves strong internal coaches and you don’t give each other many comments throughout the process. The simple act of repetitively singing in specific pairs will help you begin to “find” each others’ voices with regard to placement and resonance, and a unit sound will begin to naturally develop.
3. Discover your identity through experimentation
The challenge of connecting with the audience and finding that “next level” is common to all quartets, regardless of how well they sing. Frequently, the reason your quartet is not holding the audience’s attention is because you are not singing music that correlates with the persona that you naturally project onstage. A strong quartet identity is not necessarily something that you choose; sometimes, you need to discover it. Sing music from different genres, in different styles, and most importantly, music all four of you love and identify with. After some experimentation, you will find out which types of arrangements are easiest for you to perform in a relaxed style, and which ones result in the strongest audience connection.
– Daniel Wessler, bass of After Hours, 2018 International Quartet Champion