Women barbershop choruses hope to attract more singers at online convention

·3 min read
Members of Island A Capella had to practise on Zoom before they could gather in person again last fall. (Harmony Inc. Area 1 - image credit)
Members of Island A Capella had to practise on Zoom before they could gather in person again last fall. (Harmony Inc. Area 1 - image credit)
Members of Island A Capella had to practise on Zoom before they could gather in person again last fall.
Members of Island A Capella had to practise on Zoom before they could gather in person again last fall.(Harmony Inc. Area 1)

It won't be the same as hearing that "beautiful blend" of 350 women singing a capella live together, but a barbershop chorus on P.E.I. says holding an annual conference online has its benefits.

Women barbershop choruses in the Atlantic region come together every year for a conference at Mount Allison University.

It's a chance to sing together, learn, compete, make new friendships and renew old ones. It didn't happen last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, they have decided to hold it online over Zoom, and while it's not conducive to harmonizing together, there will still be singing — it's just that nobody will hear you.

And for the new people they hope to attract, that might be a good thing.

"You won't be, necessarily, in a crowd and nobody will hear you singing this time," Kelly Mullaly, a member of Island A Capella, said in an interview with Mainstreet P.E.I. host Angela Walker.

You won't be, necessarily, in a crowd and nobody will hear you singing this time. — Kelly Mullaly

"You can give it a little try at home as well .... that's exactly what we're hoping. And that maybe if somebody is interested enough that when the singing season started again in the fall, that they may want to get in touch with a chorus and we'll stay in touch with them and check it out in person."

Members are being encouraged to invite, at no cost, a female friend or family member interested in learning more about singing four-part a cappella harmonies in the barbershop style to the event.

A limited number of spots are also available for members of the public who don't have a connection to a Harmony, Inc. chorus to register themselves to attend as a "Barbershop Buddy."

In fact, the theme of the convention is, It's the Music That Brings Us Together, Mullaly said.

One upside to COVID restrictions

"One of the upsides, I guess, of COVID is we've been able to go online and invite people geographically or maybe who haven't been brave enough or knew enough about us to join us before online. Now they can come and visit with us."

Mullaly said she will miss the hugs and harmonies of the live convention, but they've become comfortable enough with Zoom to make it work.

"Zoom is great for meetings, but you can't do audio activities together like singing at the same time because it just sounds like a mess when you try and get all those voices together," she said.

"So we did what we could do and we went on Zoom and we would mute our individual microphones and one person would sing and we'd sing along with them at home and we'd be able still to keep our skills up and to still be social and to spend time together and wait it out until we could get back together again, which fortunately we were able to do this past fall."

The conference takes place online June 5-6. It will feature instructors from around the world, Mullaly said.

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