Barbershop Music

The art form for everyone

Barbershop Music

"No, I can't do it, I can't sing." That is a phrase that irks me every time. Every. Single. Time. In reality, there is a small percentage that actually can't sing, and it's usually due to physical damage. That part of the population I'll exclude from this.

Most of the people that say they can't sing, in my opinion are just singers who haven't trained. Now, as you get older, it does get a little bit more difficult to get the ball rolling than if you started singing when you were younger, however, it's still completely possible. In my chorus alone, we have a bunch of men, who might have sang in high school, but it's been decades since they've sang last, who are still part of my chorus, Harmonic Collective. And not to boast, but as of July 2019, we received 20th place with a score of 82.2. We're the top 20th chorus in the entire world. If that doesn't at least support my claim that everyone can sing, I don't know what does.

Most people believe that to sing, you need natural talent. Especially in this fast-paced world we live in, if we don't have it right now, we don't have it at all. Much like any skill, you need to develop it. You need to train. You need to practice. I'm not the greatest solo singer. I have a decent voice, but it's is truly untrained to be a solo singer. I do my best singing in a group. I know how to sing in a group. But I didn't get to this point on pure talent alone. I worked for it. Years and years of training and practice. And I'll tell you, I'm damn good at it.

Barbershop is an art form where we believe everyone can sing in. If a barbershop convention is in town, you're going to hear a lot of singing, and if you're around and are interested, people will invite you to sing. If you say you can't sing, they will do their best to persuade you. As a barbershopper, we believe that everyone can sing with us. Most of us sing barbershop because it's so much fun. It's a style of a cappella singing with close harmonies that sound like they ring when sung.

I believe that the barbershop style of singing is the easiest one to sing for those of us that feel solo singing is a bit beyond our reach. Granted, in a proper quartet, you are a soloist on your own part. But you have to work together with three other people in order to create the beautiful music. You're supported by your quartet mates and you don't feel as alone, as you would if you were singing completely by yourself.

The style itself can be difficult to sing. The way music is written can be challenging for some people and the technique in which we sing is different than those who have sung in high school or college choirs. Barbershop singers sing in a more forward placement than what most people are accustomed to, often receiving a slightly nasal-y sound, with little to no vibrato added to the sound. Learning that placement can be tricky, but if you sing classically, singing barbershop can help your sound out a lot.

If singing has ever interested you, but you don't feel like you can sing at all, I dare you to find your local barbershop chapter and sing with them for a couple of nights. Not only will they take you in and give you a place to freely sing, but they are going to help you beyond anything you have expected. Sure, we sing together, but a barbershop chapter is much more than a group that sings together. We encourage each other. We lift each other. We do our best to make sure you are getting the best experience you can get from our chapter. We want you to enjoy your time while you sing barbershop. Because there's nothing else we'd rather be doing than singing with you.

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Armando Villa-Ignacio
Armando Villa-Ignacio
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Armando Villa-Ignacio

I’m a naturalist at a Nature Center and a barbershop singer out of Central New York. 

See all posts by Armando Villa-Ignacio