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Four Easy Tricks to Land a National Anthem Gig

Four Easy Tricks to Land a National Anthem Gig Before your Favorite Sports Team

Barbershop and baseball – a culmination of American history coming together for one solid pastime from start to finish.

You are in the bowels of Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, preparing to sing the national anthem. This is where members of the press interview managers and famous ball-players in the post-game rush. You hear on the walkie talkie, “We’re ready. Bring them to the field.” Anxiously, you walk through the tunnel then onto the field, and there’s your chorus -- bright-eyed on the jumbotron. Distractions swirl (the audience, feedback, mascots, your favorite player) but you’re ready. “Ignore the feedback,” they’d told you. “You’ll be great!” There are more than 45,000 people watching in the standing-room-only crowd. It’s the largest audience you’ve ever sung for.

BHS President Dick Powell loves his O’s. And he can remember that first time on the field like it was yesterday.

The Patapsco Valley Chapter sings at Oriole Park

Barbershop and baseball – a culmination of American history coming together for one solid pastime from start to finish.

As Dick explains, almost 15 years ago, when tapes were still a thing, the Patapsco Valley Chapter sent in an audition tape to the major league team. It wasn’t easy to get a coveted national anthem gig. There’s an audition process, and many teams focus on professional groups; they want to make sure you’re qualified. Over a period of years, the Orioles acknowledged the Patapsco Valley Chapter was worth talking to, and eventually they were asked to send in another audition tape. They sent in a tape featuring “O, Canada” and the National Anthem. The club ate it up!

Want to sing before your favorite team? Read a few tricks of the trade to land yourself a singing gig on a major league home plate.

1. Diversify: learn more than one National Anthem!

Because the Chapter sent recordings of both the U.S. and Canadian anthems, they were uniquely qualified to sing at the next Baltimore/Toronto Blue Jays game!

As you diversify your repertoire – whether it is another national anthem or exploring and celebrating other cultural or religious backgrounds and their music -- more opportunities will surface. More diverse repertoire can snowball into more diverse gigs and more diverse members.

2. Send in a quality audition tape (to the right people).

Reviewers will quickly dismiss sub-par performances, so treat the audition recording seriously. Prepare and perfect your sound. That also means investing care in high-quality video and sound; don’t let a poor recording make your experienced chorus sound like amateur hour. Grab your latest smartphone or DSLR camera, be picky about the room where you record, and balance your vocal parts to ensure you’re represented correctly.

Where do you send your recording? Search the team website for guidelines and addresses. See this example from the Nashville Sounds. Lacking that, look for a marketing coordinator, community and/or public relations, or creative and/or entertainment assistant; avoid reaching out to folks with a director or executive title, as they might disregard your phone call or email. A coordinator or assistant is much more likely to answer your questions and direct you to the right folks.

3. Use your performance as a recruiting tool.

So you land your first major or minor league National Anthem gig… now what? You’re practicing, revved up about the opportunity: now publicize it! “Wanna sing with us at an Orioles game? Come learn two songs with us. If you do your homework, we’ll take you with us to sing the National Anthem!”

Heart of Maryland performs at Camden Yards

Powell explains, “In the past, men would bring their sons into the chorus for that one performance, and many have had their first exposure with the chorus singing at home plate. Those are the amazing experiences you have with your barbershop friends, and when people engage in the communities in which they live, it’s electrifying! It’s another way Barbershoppers can bring the thing we love so much to a wider audience. “If new members come from it, that’s just gravy!”

4. Don’t give up.

The Patapsco Valley Chapter sent in audition tapes for four years, until one day the major league team asked THEM to send in a tape. Their story is a prime example of the type of determination it takes to achieve your goals. It takes throwing one pebble after another into the water until finally, you’ve created your own stream – it’s uniquely yours.

Can’t land a major league team – but you can land a minor league team? AMAZING! Use that as leverage for your next audition to the majors! Imagine if you nail the performance (stadium feedback and all). The majors will see how you perform in almost an identical setting compared to theirs. I bet you’ll have an even better shot!

Jernie Talles Millan

Marketing Assistant

Barbershop Harmony Society