Belleville "Sounds of Harmony" Chapter
has much to offer our members, centering on "the
sweetest music under heaven," as barbershop
harmony was called by the Society's founder, O.C.
Singing is the focus of what we're all about,
and our primary goal is helping our members enjoy
and improve their singing talents. Our director,
Doug Brooks, is a seasoned barbershopper, in both
quartets and choruses. His assistant, Hal Maples,
is well regarded, not only as a singer, but also
as an arranger. As a result of this highly-qualified
team, each week our members receive a quality
music lesson on vocal production, presentation,
and all aspects of musical performance.
In addition to our resident expertise, we occasionally
bring in coaches to help us refine our entertainment
skills. Because of their assistance, we consistently
place in the top three in Illinois District chorus
contests, bring home the Small Chorus Award, and
win the Most Entertaining Chorus trophy. Occasionally,
we earn the award for Most Improved Chorus, as
Learning our music has been made much easier with
the advent of learning files. These recordings
allow the listener to isolate his part on the
left track, listen and sing along with his part,
and then slowly bring in the right track to practice
singing with all the parts. This learning tool
is great fun and quite rewarding.
Additionally, the Barbershop Harmony Society offers
many opportunities that support our singing efforts.
One example is Harmony University, a week-long
experience for barbershoppers to learn more about
their hobby. Also, for those wanting to develop
their musical leadership skills, the Society holds
Directors' University in conjunction with Harmony
University. On a district level, Illinois barbershoppers
can attend an annual event called IDAH, or the
Illinois District Academy of Harmony, which is
a one-day version of Harmony University.
Administratively, our chapter is managed by an
elected Board of Directors, all of whom are active
chapter members. New officers may attend the Illinois
Leadership Training (ILT), where officers receive
basic training necessary for the office to which
they have been elected. These officers receive
manuals for their particular administrative position,
allowing them the chance to review their duties
Fellowship is one of the proudest benefits of
belonging to the barbershop Society. In addition
to the weekly get-togethers, barbershoppers are
offered the opportunity to meet other barbershoppers
throughout the district and from around the world
when we meet at District and International Conventions.
We even learn a series of Barber Polecat songs
which enable us to make harmony with three other
parts wherever we go.
Community performances are provided by our chorus
and quartets for organizations and businesses
when they want quality, wholesome entertainment
for all types of events. For more than 60 years
our ensembles have sung for numerous clubs and
companies and always look forward to more. (Check
out the "Hiring Us" section for more
information.) Since 1949 our annual show has allowed
us to showcase our form of entertainment, treating
our audiences to a variety of music in an informal
setting. We also perform at many venues during
the Christmas season.
Finally, a successful chapter needs resources
to operate. Our expenses include rehearsal hall
rental, director's fees, uniforms, show expenses,
float maintenance and storage, insurance, competition
expenses, advertising, and other related items.
We work hard to be self-sufficient by earning
money from Singing Valentines, our annual show
tickets and program ads, concession stand work,
parades, food booths at street fairs, and chorus
performance fees. It takes a lot of commitment
from our members to make this happen.