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Healthy performance practice for male barbershop singers

Jacob K Bartlett, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Barbershop singing is a hobby enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of men and women across the world. We attend conventions, shows, competitions, and educational outreach programs each year at our own expense to preserve a style we truly love. Most singers of the style are amateur musicians. This constitutes somewhat of a challenge when we consider the need for healthy singing in light of certain assumptions about the vocal technique required of the barbershop style. Most do their best to make a healthy sound but end up doing more harm than good to their own voices after a lengthy rehearsal. The pedagogical methods in this paper welcome all musicians into the world of barbershop as seen from the viewpoint of a classical musician who enjoys the style. This is a document for the blue-collar worker as much as it is for the primo uomo. It's exercises combine classical techniques with barbershop repertoire. Both professional and amateur musicians will find this document useful, especially as a gateway for classical musicians into the barbershop style. The key is knowledge of the core voice, and its use to project target vowels for perfect blend and expression of the text. The argument of this document is that singing in the barbershop style can and should be taught classically. To be successful, the barbershop style requires overtones and a unified choral sound. Classical solo singing requires a rich, vibrant individuality in the voice. Here, I create a mixture by merging the former with the latter.

Subject Area

Performing Arts|Music education|Music

Recommended Citation

Bartlett, Jacob K, "Healthy performance practice for male barbershop singers" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3449883.