Let's muse for a while about a brave new world of barbershop. What if we had 1,000 chapters and a membership of 40,000? What if these chapters weren't all alike? I know, our chapters aren't all alike now, but you have to admit that many - most? - of them are very similar. They meet, sing "The Old Songs", have a warm-up, rehearse, do a little biz, break for a while (some folks go home here), rehearse some more, sing "KTWWS" and go home.
Every once in a while they sing for somebody. They have an annual show. They do a holiday show. Maybe they have a picnic in the summer. They're all - or most all of them - are over 50 years old. There aren't as many of them as there used to be. Chapters or members.
Familiar? I bet it is. Want to keep it that way? OK, guess what? You can. But what if there were another barbershop universe possible? What if there were a virtually unlimited number of types of chapters? One kind would be exactly like the one above - maybe expressed a bit more positively, but they'd be - let's call it - a "performing" chapter. They are a chorus of guys who love to sing, who love each other, and who love to perform. They do it because they love it. Maybe, if fact, most of our 1,000 chapters would be like that.
What about "competition" chapters? Sure. You know who they are. They were formed to compete and they do. They do well. No need to worry much about them. They are pretty much doing okay.
But, what about the others? Surely we'd have youth chapters - we've started a few of those already. (Or they've started themselves!) They are fun, energetic and young! Such a deal! How about "Harmony for Lunch Bunch" chapters? Older guys - mostly - who want to get together once a week - or twice a month - at lunch and sing, eat, and sing some more. Then head for the golf course. We have some of these now, too. Maybe we should have more.
What other kinds of chapters could there be? "Quartet" chapters, of course. We have some. If we provided more support for them as an organization, would there be, perhaps more of them?
What other kinds? How about "traditional barbershop" chapters? Devoted to singing the old songs in the old way. Sing as a chorus, break up into quartets, sing as a chorus again. Go to the brewpub and sing some more. Sounds pretty good to me! Like the quartet chapters, but like to sing together in a big group some, too.
What about "recreational" chapters? What would happen if we sorta did it in the original way? I understand that O. C. and the boys just got together to sing for the fun of it. Never thought of performing. No ticket sales, no ad sales. No music director. No music - or not much. Just throw a five into the hat to pay for the hall and sing away. Call out a tune and gang sing it. Have someone teach a tag. Read some simple arrangements - make music right away. Woodshed. Break up into smaller groups - not necessarily quartets - to do it some more - more gang singing, more tag singing, some woodshedding, some easy arrangement reading. Sing for the fun of it. Have a Pepsi. Go home. Come back in a week or two and do it again.
OK that's, what, six chapter types? How many of these do we actively support as an organization now? Two or three? What if our staff and volunteer leaders thought each of these models was as valuable as another? What if we published templates for each kind of meeting? Made DVDs showing how to run each type successfully? Taught classes at HU and district schools for each one? Had a Distict VP for each type? Really supported them by every word and deed? Encouraged every prospect to find a chapter that truly fit his needs? Recruited nationally and connected locally?
I think we might find that we'd have more chapters in each locality. More than one type in each town. Some small, some not so small. Maybe we'd have 1,000 chapters. And 40,000 members.
Whew. Your turn.