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Singing Community Impact

Why this matters

Singing together forges social connections

Pop culture and TV singing contests glorify the soloist, the star, the idol. This can make people wary of singing at all. It’s scary. It’s vulnerable. It exposes imperfections in that most personal attribute, one’s own voice.

On the other hand, choral singing — and barbershop in particular— offers a safe place for people to sing together. And many of the great personal benefits of singing—artistic expression, emotional release, physical attentiveness to breathing and movement— are magnified when people sing together. Medical research shows that heart rates of choir singers tend to synchronize and beat as one, bringing a sense of calm similar to yoga.

Forging connections and community

What Barbershoppers know from experience and instinct is confirmed by extensive research: singing together builds confidence, mutual reliance—and joy. Singing together binds people together with a sense of team unity, and interdependence, with growth in teamwork skills, compromise, and a sense of social unity.

Across generations, sociologists find that through shared music experiences, attitudes of teens and seniors citizens moved toward one another—an experience easily seen at a BHS Midwinter Convention, when youth choruses and quartets mingle with seniors choruses and quartets, singing tags together late into the night.

All people, it seems, can benefit from singing in groups. A recent survey shows 94.7% of our members agree that barbershop brings people together in harmony. Our reach and continuity as an organization has always meant “there’s a place to go”. Whenever anyone anywhere encounters barbershop, there’s a place to find us.

For 80 years of BHS’ history, that place to go was an all-male singing experience. The BHS strategic vision and plan now supports singing communities for all people, while also preserving an all-male experience. It’s a critical part of Everyone in Harmony: that there will always be a safe space for men to express emotionality, expressiveness, and bonding with one another. A majority of men, young and old, coming to barbershop point to this experience as a critical part of connecting them to the lifelong rewards of the barbershop lifestyle.

How we make it happen

Igniting singing communities in thousands of places

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We sustain healthy barbershop communities of all kinds…and plant new ones

We’ve always preserved a culture of singing together for fun and fellowship.

In 2019, our estimated 3,265 communities in the U.S. alone—choruses, quartets, Very Large Quartets (VLQs), school groups, and casual meet-ups—brought together more than 54,000 people to sing barbershop.

We nurture the environment for success, and provide tools to make it possible

  • The Healthy Chapter Initiative delivers thousands of hours of training and facilitation in leading the business of a barbershop group.
  • Business services such as insurance, performance licensing and copyright clearance, finance and incorporation, are all accessible via BHS training materials and subject matter experts on staff.
  • We place top performers in highly visible media to expand broad awareness and positive impressions of barbershop music and performance -- and instill pride in our singers and fans.
  • We knit together the entire barbershop world with a sense of shared identity through our magazine, YouTube channel, social media and web sites.

We offer innovative singing community options, at all levels of ability, access, and interests

  • We’ve evolved our “one size fits all” quartet and chapter model to reflect changing demands of new generations. Multiple ensembles — men’s, women’s, mixed, youth, competition based, community service based— in a single chapter make it easier for families and friends to get more musical + social activity into less time each week.
  • We’re promoting many different ways to organize and register quartets. People come for the music and stay for the friendships.

our impact

More people being happy, singing together

First and foremost, BHS ensures its singing communities are healthy, happy, and thriving -- it’s about them -- that local experience. In 2019, singing community volunteers gave 3.4 million hours of their time, an estimated $86.5 million in value, to better their barbershop communities. Add in the hundreds of hours spent in performance, visitations to hospitals, nursing homes, food pantries, homeless shelters, prisons, support for local music programs — and BHS is a powerful philanthropic force for good. In 2019, barbershop chapters performed over 7,500 shows, nearly 4,100 of these free community performances.

The BHS organization as a whole may well be the largest singing community in the world, driving the growth of barbershop for 10 international alliances in addition to barbershop in North America. We’re also making sure we engage BHS community fans—drive-by YouTube viewers, for example— into ongoing relationships. Right now, we maintain connections with nearly 100,000 followers and fans, and some of the 133,000 YouTube subscribers who account for some of the 16 million annual views.

Your gift reinforces the social bond among singers

When you give, we can:

  • Plant new communities of singers in new settings across North America
  • Raise worldwide awareness through high profile news media and targeted advertising
  • Connect the entire world with education resources on our website, Harmony University Online, and magazine publication
  • Continue pouring more incredible barbershop performances onto digital media
  • Publish more barbershop music accessible for all singers in all combinations: quartets and choruses, all voices, modern and classic
  • Train and recruit chorus directors who fashion individuals into united singing groups
  • Train and recruit volunteer leaders of singing communities
  • Enhance the connectedness of the entire vocal music world through partnerships with choral organizations