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Are we singers who fraternize, or a fraternity that sings?

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Either one works for me. There’s a lot of truth to the notion that many men don’t want to join a chorus that sings at a less than high level. But read this post by Todd Ramirez, until recently of the Boise Chordsmen. (He recently moved to the Salt Lake City area). Todd is an experienced singer, but he forgot to assess the musical prowess of his chapter in the following email I got a while back. You won’t wonder why:

I am a newbie of just over 1 year. I have sung most of my life in church and college and in touring and honor choirs. I kind of got sick of it though. The standard choral music was interesting, some of the time, but seemed to lack something. So, I dropped out of singing for about 9 years. I just couldn’t place what it was that was missing in my musical life. I had been in choirs and even the lead in a musical, but I still didn’t get any enjoyment out of it.

No, this isn’t leading to a “why I love the Barbershop style of music.” I saw a public service announcement for the Chordsmen one day in late fall. It sounded interesting, but I was hesitant. Well, my wife practically threw me out the door and one member of the chorus saw me wandering around outside of the church where we practice and brought me in. The Barbershop style actually confused me after so many years of choral music, but I warmed up to it. After a couple of practices, I finally figured out what had been missing all those years: true camaraderie.

It wasn’t the music that was the problem; it was the people I was with. Oh, don’t get my wrong, the other choirs were all nice, but there was no real connection like I have with my brothers of the Society. I suffer from heavy depression and social anxiety, but I can be with the Chordsmen and not have those problems affect me. One time when I had missed several weeks with family and health problems, member of the chorus called me worried about where I was and if they could help. I get coaching from some of the best singers I’ve ever known and people go out of their way to compliment and drive you to be better.

Barbershop music is great and I love it, but I go for the people and the friendships. The music is just a bonus.

Not every chapter gets this. How do we help our chapters put more emphasis on the fraternal aspects of the hobby?