I’ve been singing Barbershop since around 2002, both in choruses and quartets, and I’ve been fortunate enough to win many awards and competitions throughout my time as a singer. I became a Musical Director in 2009 for a Barbershop chorus, eventually deciding to take a break when my son was born.
But I really missed it. The sound of ladies group harmonies. The joy of helping ladies to achieve more with their voice than they thought possible.
My partner and I thought a lot about setting up a new chorus from scratch, but neither of us were happy with the traditional Barbershop approach; that singers must audition, that they are expected to compete, that they are expected to have a level of musical knowledge. Eventually we came to the conclusion over winter 2017 that something had to be done . “What shall we do?” we asked “Start a vocal group!” we replied (we don’t often talk to each other in unison, but hey, we were excited!). And so, 5 months, one ‘refresher’ directors course and a ton of work later, North Coast Harmony was born, and we were delighted to welcome 40 ladies on our first night.
My ethos is that everyone can sing, and everyone should have the opportunity to sing, regardless of experience or expertise. Nor should they be required to audition to join us. I always teach by ear, accepting that this is the best way for most inexperienced ladies to learn, and implement techniques that I’ve learned in the Barbershop environment and on training courses, in terms of getting the best from your voice, breathing techniques, tonal quality, pitch accuracy etc.
So, why do we sing, why do I direct, and why do we want other ladies to come and join us? Not only is it sociable and fun, many experts and studies agree there is a benefit to you physically and psychologically; it’s an easy aerobic exercise, benefiting your heart and lungs. It’s also been shown to help your body release natural chemicals that promote happiness, and reduce anxiety and stress. But more than that, I love meeting and spending time with ladies who love to sing, helping them to grow in confidence and develop their voice, and I love when it all comes together and some amazing harmonies are created.