Small chapter, big growth—by doing the simple things well
“Just do the work!” says this small chapter, that is succeeding by trying everything.
The 24-man chapter had shrunk to about 10 during the pandemic, but director/ president/ arranger/ energizer Brian Cromer wasn’t going to let that stop the Brotherhood of Harmony of Palatine, Illinois. “Everyone wants this effortless secret,” he says. “Here it is: Just do the work.”
So they did — with great results! People responded to their casual performances — six new members joined over the summer, others have re-engaged, and now more than 20 singers gather each week.
Get out there and sing
Through the summer, the chorus sang over a dozen free gigs at at local farmers markets and fairs. “I just picked up the phone and started calling,” says Cromer. “Let’s just do it, we all agreed, instead of waiting for the absolutely complete, perfect plan.”
Sing songs people want to sing
The Elgin Chapter sits amidst numerous other chapters in the Chicago suburbs, of varying traditions, programming, and ability. “We knew that we wanted to be something special,” says Cromer, “So we made sure we sang some songs no one else was singing, and that were familiar to audiences— ‘In My room’ by The Beach Boys, ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles, and I arranged ‘Ain’t that Shame’ (Fats Domino), and The Beatles’ ‘Good Night’ for the chorus.”
Make it fun and easy for people to sing with you.
Every time the chorus performs, they keep eyes open for “anyone who listens to more than one song,” chuckled Cromer, “and we make sure to engage with them.” Watchers sometimes become singers right on the spot, and of course, a follow-up phone call makes certain that singers get down to the meeting. “About half the people we’ve invited have shown up!” he says.
“We did a Ready-Set-Sing program with success, too. We just try a lot of things, and keep moving,” says the dynamo. Seems to be working!
Brian Lynch is Public Relations Manager for the Barbershop Harmony Society.