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How to give a great barbershop TV interview

May 9, 2019

Watch and learn how to tell our story

Singing on TV is easy. Knowing what to say, what’s most important -- that’s a little harder. Watch one quartet’s exemplary interview for tips on how you can effectively share the fun and accessibility of barbershop to wider audiences.

When FOX 17 Rock & Review in Nashville called Harmony Hall for a quartet to celebrate National Barbershop Quartet Day, our gang rose to the occasion. Staffers Donny Rose (bari), Chad Bennett (bass), Jernie Talles Millan (lead), and Amy Rose (tenor), came prepared. Looking sharp in matching tees and similar jackets and jeans, they looked comfortable, contemporary, and at ease.

Let’s watch their performances and see how they made sure our most important messages flowed naturally from the conversation.

General: Sing well

Obviously, you want to sing well, and this mixed quartet represents us well. Notice that the quartet sang a short, simple song well. Most settings aren’t ready for a six- medley of music unfamiliar to broad audiences. Short and upbeat are best, and least likely to be cut for time.

A few changes to the lyrics of “Down Our Way” make them more contemporary and suited to mixed groups. “Even policemen say.. ” becomes “all the policemen,” which has a less antagonistic tone. “Pals by the score, and gals galore” becomes “Friends we’ll see, in harmony,” removing gender from the phrase, with no less charm.

1:17 -- More people singing! Everyone in harmony!

The host offers a great opportunity to tell our story: Everyone in Harmony means the fun of barbershop singing belongs to everybody. Families can sing together. People can explore all varieties of close harmony.

1:44 -- The foundations of barbershop in African American communities

Whenever we talk about how barbershop got it name, we go straight to the history books. The general public doesn’t always know that the music has its orgins in African American communities, and shares its heritage with jazz and gospel.

2:25 -- Barbershop is worldwide

Our universal shared repertoire of Barberpole Cats and ease of teaching tags makes barbershop a bridge between people who may not share a language.

3:08 -- We serve communities

Singing for ourselves is only part of the story. Make note of ways you support community singing, youth, and bring joy to thousands of people every year.

4:08 -- We’re findable!

Be sure to direct folks to learn more at www.barerbshop.org and search for you on Facebook etc.

7:17 -- Don’t sing alone when you can sing along

No one has to simply sit and watch. Commuters sing along with the car radio -- they’re singers, too! Sing to bring yourself joy.

8:05 -- Sing to be part of the worldwide barbershop family

You're at home everywhere when you're a Barbershopper.

This doesn’t happen by accident. BE PREPARED.

Following along with the interview might make it appear that this was easy. It mostly was… because the quartet and the interviewer were prepared with this brief, fact-stuffed outline that Amy Rose had sent beforehand.

BHS overview

  • For 80 years, BHS created opportunities for men to sing in organized chapters and quartets, now expanding to include mixed and women’s groups as a part of our membership.
  • Nearly 20,000 members, 700 chapters/choruses
  • 80,000 barbershop singers world wide - Sweet Adelines International; Harmony, Inc.; internationally from UK to Japan to Brazil

BHS supports singing

  • Publishing, education, conventions, outreach, merchandise
  • Harmony Hall is our international headquarters in Nashville - tours, singing lessons, events

Benefits of lifelong singing

  • Society might make you think that only the best singers should sing, but we disagree. Singing is for everyone, at every level. Like anything else, it takes practice to build your skills.
  • If you sang in school, you can keep singing after you graduate. That experience of a musical family doesn’t have to end.
  • Studies have proven that people who sing stay healthier and build stronger support systems than people who don’t.
  • For barbershoppers, there is a network of people across the world who are interested in connecting with each other.

Impact of community outreach

  • Service - student outreach, seniors services, community fundraising, individual support
  • Helping to establish singing as a valuable community resource
  • Music holds the power to transform lives
    • Harmony Foundation International - over $100K in HU scholarships; $380K for YCF, YBQC, and grants
    • Next Generation Barbershop - Junior/Varsity quartet and chorus events
    • Lifelong singing opportunities - local chapters; All-Chapter and EiH choruses
    • Seniors quartet and chorus events
    • Outreach - local and major convention events
      • Grants - providing sheet music, workshops, camps, festivals, Harmony Explosion
      • Youth Outreach Grants - between $500 and $10,000 per award
  • Can help schools fill the gaps when music isn’t a part of the local curriculum

Opportunities for YOU to sing in Nashville

  • Two men’s choruses, two women’s choruses, one emerging mixed
  • Several community-based choirs and ensembles
  • Form a chapter or quartet!