E ∴ P
It is a simple idea.
E, therefore P
It lives in the very name of our Society.
Encouragement, therefore Preservation.
In our Code of Ethics there are three which speak directly to this:
1. We shall do everything in our power to perpetuate the Society.
9. We shall, by our stimulus to good music and vocal harmony, endeavor to spread the spirit of harmony throughout the world.
10. We shall render all possible altruistic service through the medium of barbershop harmony.
All three of these ideas lie at the very core of what it means to Preserve and to Encourage this art form. All three of these ideas also lie at the very core of the Youth in Harmony program.
Let’s start with the last one. Bringing the joy of this magical art form to young people is one of the noblest altruistic outreaches we can have. Arts programs are being cut from public and even private school curricula at an alarming rate. More and more kids are finding themselves in situations where they have no music in their lives at all beyond what they might hear streaming digitally, on the radio, etc. All of this despite the fact that study after study has proven that kids involved in music curricula do better in all aspects of their academic lives. We must, therefore, do everything in our power to help existing music programs succeed and grow, help rebuild failing music programs, help install music programs where none exist, and bring excellent singing and amazing harmony to as many kids as we possibly can.
By doing this we begin to accomplish some of what is mandated in the ninth code. We begin to spread “the spirit of harmony” throughout the world. The “spirit of harmony.” What is that? Consider what it takes to make a great quartet or a great chorus. No single singer can try to outshine the others. No singer can try to hide. All must be equals. All must come together, egos left at the door, and work together, unselfishly, to create this amazing sound. Only when we do this does it really work. We create utopian models of society every time we lock and ring. We experience a fellowship unlike any other from the inside of a chord. This spirit of camaraderie, of love and fellowship, of equality, is the true nature of the “spirit of harmony.” The more this spirit pervades our communities, our societies, the better all our lives become, the better our future becomes. And, of course, it starts with the children.
And in so doing all of the above, eventually, we perpetuate our Society. Youth in Harmony is not about recruitment, but a successful YIH program will absolutely benefit the Society in numbers, in time. These kids that we Encourage to sing now will eventually come to us as members to help us Preserve this art form. It may not be while they’re in school, it may be later in their adult lives, but they will come back. The more people who hear this form of singing, the more likely someone will want to try and experience it for themselves. It may be the father or brother or uncle or grandfather of one of the kids. Or it might be their neighbor who came to their YIH concert. Or it might be another teacher on their faculty. The more people hear it, the more opportunities we have to find new members.
The Youth in Harmony program for the Carolinas District is going to be a much broader, more encompassing program than most, if not all, of the current programs in our Society. We have a program geared toward collegiate singers with the Collegiate Challenge. We will, of course, continue to target high school programs but we must also expand to include middle school programs. Additionally, however, we should also widen our net to include private instructors, homeschool networks, and even church and community choral organizations that have a youth component. We can also partner with other youth service organizations, like the YMCA, to bring our message to their clientele. Perhaps most importantly, our programs will not be gender specific. Whenever possible we will have co-ed festivals and workshops so that the young women have the same opportunities as the young men. Not only is this fair, it will also be much more attractive to the educators looking for benefits to their programs.
Each chapter, then, should create a YIH Committee. Even for chapters in small areas, it is probably too much to expect of a single individual to be successful with this. Strength in numbers! These committee members should plan to meet with me and the team I am assembling at the Fall Festival in Asheville, at the Leadership Academy in January, and again at the Spring Contest in Winston-Salem, to get materials and one-on-one training on how to build a YIH program in your chapter’s sphere of influence.
New strategies need to be developed to be successful with Youth in Harmony. For example, multiple chapters can come together to form a single event in their area rather than relying on a single chapter to carry the entire load. We should solicit corporate sponsorship for youth programs and festivals. We need to be flexible about the nature of the programs (age groups, repertoire selection, etc.) so that they have the greatest chance of success based on the areas in which we create them. There is no one right answer. The only wrong answer is to not try!
Begin assembling your teams and have your chapter’s YIH VP contact me directly to get the ball rolling.
E ∴ P
It’s a simple idea…