Tonight's Lineup

and 2-Min Bios

 

Purpose:

We want to share some best-practice programs we started within our chapter. Both of these programs are FREE and require only light planning to implement. As a chapter, you will however need to agree and commit the time (less than 10 mins) to execute these each week at your chapter rehearsals. The programs are:

 

“Tonight’s Lineup” - Organically Promote Quarteting Within Your Chapter

2-min Bio - Learn More About Your Members

 

Introduction: Tonight’s Lineup

How do we promote quartet singing into our weekly chorus rehearsals in a fun and beneficial way? 

 

Well our chorus rehearsals have always included quartet singing. We have always encouraged it but oftentimes forced it on our members. Here are ways we previously tried:

  • We’d done the ‘shotgun’ quartet idea, where 4 singers would start a song and other singers would ‘tap out’ their voice part and take over. This can be fun but often leads to the more confident singers joining in and the others just watching. This usually ended awkwardly as there was no plan for it to be finished. 
  • We’ve also tried the ‘get a quartet up there’ approach and volunteered people to go up and sing a song that maybe they weren’t confident singing. The effects of this can often be negative, even though that was not the intent. 
  • We’ve seen the ‘let’s get our best singers up there’ to form a quartet and sing a chapter song. It sounds good but doesn’t encourage anyone to be better or promote positive reinforcement if they don’t meet the best singers’ high-bar.
 

We thought there had to be a better way. Quarteting is always best when it’s organic and every singer agrees to participate. The song also needs to be selected ahead of time, prepared and then presented. Quarteting is also meant to be fun for everyone involved- the singers and the audience. After thoughtful discussion we came up with this idea of a planned quartet at every rehearsal where the singers could plan and also agree to it. We had to give the quartet a name so they could be introduced in a grand way. It took no time at all to call it the obvious name “Tonight’s Lineup”, which also became the name of this program. 

As a chapter, we discussed the idea with everyone and agreed that after our 9pm break, Tonight’s Lineup would be a staple of our Tuesday nights going forward. It was a planned period where the singers would be able to mentally prepare, without the unpredictability of when they would be called upon. This program costs zero money and takes only a little bit of planning to execute.

Now how do we get participation that is organic, inclusive and agreeable? We decided on a schedule, where each chorus member is given a set date where they would be the Tonight’s Lineup quartet captain. We created a spreadsheet, emailed it out and also printed it for everyone. The plan also included a back-up captain as we understand that life happens. It is up to the quartet captain to decide A) what song will be performed and B) who will be in the quartet that evening. 

  1. The captain can choose literally anything they want to sing: a tag, PoleCat, something from the archives, holiday tune, ballad, some kind of spoof- it doesn’t matter. For this moment, they run the show. They get to choose the song. We have seen people choose something very comfortable and also others who challenge themselves (and the rest of the quartet) to do something they’ve always wanted to do but isn’t something the chorus would commit to doing. 
  2. With a song chosen, the quartet captain then talks to members of the other voice parts to secure a quartet for their selection. Since everyone knows we are doing this, there has never been a time where someone has not been voluntarily supported by the other voice parts. And since anything goes, singers who are less confident can get another member of their voicepart to help support them as a VLQ (very large quartet). You may think you know who someone will ask to join them but we have seen every combination imaginable; Experienced singers who quartet with only new members, young members who pair up with the senior members, guys in an actual quartet choosing no one from their actual quartet, long-time members pairing up to sing a song from yester-year that most have forgotten about. It’s always a surprise!



 

The Presentation

As the goal of this program is to promote and support quartet singing, we discussed how the audience MUST react to the quartet’s performance. The answer is the same every single time - undivided attention while the quartet sings and once finished, thunderous applause, hoots & hollers and zero criticisms. Take the performance at face value and make sure the performers feel like rock stars the moment they finish.

To introduce the quartet, we have someone (usually chorus director or chapter president) set the stage. We say something like: “We looked high and low and all over the area to bring you the best quartet available anywhere. Let me introduce you to the one, the only, TONIGHT’S LINEUP!!!!” Applause, applause, applause until the quartet goes to the front and takes pitch. The quartet then performs, receives encore-type applause once finished and then we move on for the rest of the rehearsal. 

We make it a point each week to confirm outloud who is performing tonight and also who is on deck for next week. It reinforces the plan and also reminds the captain of what is coming up.

 

The Results

This has turned into a must-see event each week. It’s predictably unpredictable and wonderful fun for the performers and the audience alike. Everyone involved feels encouraged and agreed to be a part of it. The applause is planned but let me tell you, it is also organic and honest. The singers feel good when they finish, oftentimes hugging, glad-handing and high fiving the other quartet members. They typically do not stop smiling as they head back to their seat as they receive pats-on-the-back and more high fives as they return to their chair. We often hear “hey can you get a video of us singing tonight?” from the quartet members. They are proud to participate and share their performance with others.






 

Introduction: 2-min Bio

 

As a chapter, we wanted to help our members become more familiar with each other. This promotes a more comfortable atmosphere, comradery, fellowship, compassion and inclusion. We have been fortunate to have new singers joining us year-round and every single person has their own unique story. We wanted to ensure that we had a member spotlight where we all could learn about each other; new members and also the chorus mainstays. Our resolution was a new program aptly named “2-min Bio” (2 minute autobiography). One member gets the spotlight each week where they come in front of the chorus and tell us anything they want about themselves for 2 minutes (keep in mind no one is watching the clock). 

The results have been awesome. Sometimes they talk about how they found barbershop or specifically our chorus. Other times they talk about what they do for a living, about their family, a funny story we didn’t know about, what singing means to them or anything they want to share. By opening the subject matter to anything, we get to hear what they want to share. Not everyone loves talking in front of a group but we have never had someone decline. Since this is a repeating program, the open format allows for members who have spoken before to now shed light on a new area they didn’t previously discuss.

We created a schedule which was distributed via email and also printed. Someone was assigned to each Tuesday rehearsal. We allotted for the time slot right before or after Tonight’s Lineup performs. This was included on the same schedule as the Tonight’s Lineup quartet captain schedule for ease of use/planning for all.




 

Background

These programs (Tonight’s Lineup and 2-min Bio) were created and developed by the HarmonyTown Chorus- Wayne Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Our home is in southeast Michigan USA, within the Pioneer District. Our website is: www.WeSingBarbershop.com if you want to see videos of Tonight’s Lineup performances, which are also available via our social media platforms. We started both of these programs in the beginning of 2020 and have continuously used them ever since.

Any questions regarding how to further implement these programs into your chapter, please email us at President@WeSingBarbershop.com. We would love to help support you starting these programs within your chapter. 

We decided to outline and distribute these programs for others as they have been extremely successful for us in growing our chapter, bringing our members closer together and having a lot of fun.


 
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