Why this Guidebook?

Becoming a member of a quartet can be one of the most satisfying experiences a Barbershopper can have. It is an opportunity to share the purest form of singing barbershop harmony with three other friends. You can develop your independence as a part singer, feel the joy of ringing a chord and touching the hearts of your audience, and experience the personal satisfaction of an audience rising to its feet in appreciation of your quartet’s efforts. There are only a few types of performing that let you experience the combined thrill of quartet singing – individual singing skill, ensemble singing skill, stage performance, emotional commitment, camaraderie, and audience rapport. 

The purpose of this guidebook is to provide resources that will encourage and assist in the formation and continued growth of quartets in the Society. Additional quartets performing for the public will result in increased and higher quality exposure to our art form and sharing of the joy of barbershop a cappella singing with more audiences. In addition, experience as a quartet member singing in public directly leads to better singing and performance in a chorus. 

Although barbershop choruses also perform for the public, quartets provide a unique environment for Barbershoppers to grow in their singing and performing ability. In a quartet, you learn to listen, blend, and match the other members of the group. You tend to learn songs better because you have no others to lean on. You not only have to carry your part, but you must sell the song – you cannot rely on others. Confidence is gained as experiences grow. Individual coaching, primarily with the other quartet members, is given and received. Your voice improves with practice and frequent singing which helps to improve the overall quartet experience. 

With that in mind, this guidebook is here to help you produce performances for audiences that move them emotionally. Before we get there, we need to form the quartet, select music, rehearse, market ourselves, book performances, and plan our performance. That’s what this guidebook is for – to provide the guidance, tools, and lessons learned from other successful Society quartets who are performing. This guidebook is here to make sure you have the knowledge you need to start and grow a successful performing quartet. 

This guidebook is the result of a Society-sponsored project to encourage and assist in the formation and continued growth of quartets. Society registered and non-registered quartets were polled for preliminary information on their performances, repertoire and time in existence. Quartets with pertinent experience were then contacted to provide detailed information on their processes, procedures, guidelines, recommendations and lessons learned which have been included in this document. Many thanks to those contributors to this guidebook, who are listed in the Acknowledgements section. 

Updated and expanded content is welcome from other quartets to keep this document ever improving. 

Walt Lammert 
Bass, Smooth Brew quartet 
Last updated January 2018

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