Impressions of a Barbershop "Newbie"

Type of post: "In Harmony" Newsletter
Status: Current
Date Posted: Tue, 17 Oct 2017
New to barbershop, I have been enthusiastically belting out my part as a lead with Vocal Evolution for about 6 months. My qualifications were dubious:- member of my school’s choral society (35 years ago), playing Diesel in West Side Story and a lifetime singing along to the radio in the car or shower, but they were all enough to enable me to pass the audition. 
 
As a newbie it has been a daunting experience and, in my desperation to fit in, I have learnt to nod sagely during rehearsals when we have been variously instructed to “sing from our eyes” or “to emphasise the embellishments”. Thankfully the chorus has generally done what has been asked because, invariably, the next collective attempt is followed by a cry of “YES” from our MD as we are conducted into the next section. 
 
I have been way too shy to say “no” when asked whether something “makes sense” and when we do the “wee, wee, wee” harmony exercise (as we do every week in warm up) I have learnt to mimic the nearest person to me, whether tenor, bass or, even (can you believe) baritone. 
 
During breaks in rehearsal I have thoroughly enjoyed watching YouTube clips of, amongst others, Crossroads and I have learnt to audibly gasp when I hear that featured quartets have scored over 90. 
 
I have remained largely clueless about what to listen and look for so I have only been able to describe performances as, “good”, “loud” or “repetitive”, whereas the more experienced crew use words like “blended” “passionate” and “emotional”. I have learnt to murmur agreement to their analysis.
 
And so, in registering for the BHA convention for the first  time, you can appreciate my nerves were frayed as I felt I was, at long last, about to be exposed as a fraud. 
 
What a difference a few days make! I have been educated, humbled, impressed, enthused and delighted by being part of the barbershop community. I was awed by all the performances and with new and better friendships forged my confidence has built dramatically.
 
The evaluations we received were incredibly useful and I am still left pondering how the judges were able to deliver such insight given the number of performances they scored. I now know why 90 is so good and so worthy of a gasp.
 
I have felt very welcome on the barbership. I have learnt that I’m on a journey that never ends and is one that promises to get better and better. Thank you to all involved last week, whether in organising, partaking or listening, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next year and beyond.

Adam Maxwell, Perth, WA