Visitor/Guest information manual

                                        THE LONGMONT CHAPTER
                            THE BARBERSHOP HARMONY SOCIETY
                                       THE LONGS PEAK CHORUS

The Longmont chapter is affiliated with the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS).  The performing chorus is known as the Longs Peak Chorus.

This document is designed to answer some of the questions you may have concerning this wonderful hobby of ours, the international organization in general, and the Longs Peak Chorus, as well as the barbershop style of singing.

Members of the Barbershop Harmony Society know that the joy and fellowship we get from joining our voices in song is a wonderful escape from the stresses of everyday life. It has been said that when one is singing, there is no hate! It is a lifelong hobby, there is no age limit on either end.

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What is Barbershop Harmony?
“Barbershop harmony” is a unique American art form of a cappella four-part vocal harmony that hasn’t changed basically since the early 20th century. The Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) was established in 1938.  It was originally formed as the SPEBSQSA, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, but is now known as the BHS.
The melody line is sung by the “lead” (second tenor in a men’s choral group or soprano in a mixed chorus) with the “bass” singing the notes below, the “baritone” singing both above and below the lead, and almost always above the bass, and the “tenor” singing the notes above the lead.
What makes barbershop harmony so enjoyable is that when four notes or tones are sung at or in perfect intervals, and the vowel being sung is the same in all four parts, a phenomenon known as “overtone” is produced.  Overtones are the additional notes, or tones on the chromatic scale set up by sympathetic vibrations and can be clearly heard.  Barbershoppers refer to this as “expanded sound” or “ringing” chords.  Because four voices singing correctly and in perfect harmony can sound like many more than four, a volume of music is produced which is much greater than the sum of the four individual parts.

The most profound effect of this overtone phenomenon is upon the individual singers within the quartet or chorus.  It is a physical effect that is felt, often causing odd reactions such as goose bumps, or hair standing on end.  This is one of the greatest attractions of barbershop harmony.

In 2018 the BHS made a giant leap by approving the admission of women to the Society. For 80 years we had been an all male society. The new motto of the Society is now "Everyone In Harmony". 
Each chapter makes the decision to have an all male chapter, or a mixed male and female chapter. In addition a chapter may have up to three different performing choruses, all male, mixed, and all female. Starting in 2020 our International Convention will have quartet and chorus contests featuring male only, mixed, and female only ensembles competing openly.

 About the Longs Peak Chorus
The Longs Peak Chorus is the performing unit of the Longmont Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, which is the largest singing organization in the world with more than 20,000 congenial men and women who love to sing four-part harmony in the barbershop style. The Longmont Chapter was chartered in 1948, and will be celebrating our 75th anniversary this year.  At this time, Longmont has chosen to have a male only chorus.

The Longmont Chapter is in the “Rocky Mountain District”, one of 17 districts in the BHS. All districts have annual conventions, where choruses and quartets compete.  Society certified judges score their performances based on criteria of vocal quality, music selection, and performance.

Our chapter board consists of the following positions: President, Music VP, Membership VP, Secretary, Treasurer, Marketing VP, and two At Large members.

Our Music team consists of the Director, the Music VP,  4 section leaders, and 4 assistant section leaders. They are responsible for choosing and acquiring new music, planning show repertoire and theme.

The Chorus produces several shows each year as well as other private and civic performances. A highlight of the year for the Longs Peak chorus is the December caroling at senior residences and nursing homes. The caroling usually happens prior to our weekly rehearsals in December. Within the chorus, are several quartets that fill chapter obligations to civic and private performances in venues that would not normally accommodate the much larger chorus.  Every February since 1997, quartets of the chorus have sung to men and women in celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.  These “Singing Valentines”, are a fund raiser for the chapter for continued growth and improvements needed to support our harmonious hobby. Quartets may be spontaneously put together just for Singing Valentines Several of our quartets over the years have been top ten finalists at District conventions.
Individual members of the chorus have received several prestigious awards:  A Silver Medal in the International Quartet competition. A Gold medal in the International Seniors Quartet competition.  Several Top 5 medals in the International Chorus competition.  Several 50 year members of the BHS. We have also had several members serving as District Officers.

There are a few basic facts of life for our chorus:
  • This is a hobby and volunteer organization, but….
  • The chorus is only as good as the individual singers (and its administration).
  • The chapter has established itself as one of the premier chapters within the district.
  • Continually improving; “Most Improved Chorus” in 2004 and 2005 against 16 other district choruses.  Second in the district in 2009. Most Improved award in 2014.
  • Although we are primarily a singing organization, we put a big emphasis on entertaining our audiences. This means that we all work hard on emotional involvement in all of our songs.
Specific requirements for membership
  • Be assigned a specific section (voice part) employing the vocal/voice profile check, which will be made to establish your musical ability and the comfort range of your voice.
  • Attend at least three (3) consecutive meetings (more if needed to grasp our style of singing).
  • Do an informal audition to insure that you can indeed carry a tune.
  • Have the recommendations of the Music Committee and Membership VP ratified by the Board of Directors.
  • Submit a membership application and a check for membership dues to the Membership Vice President.
  • Be approved as a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society by BHS headquarters
What is the cost of being a member?
  • Dues: Initial dues are $217 which includes International, District, and Chapter dues and a $10 initiation fee.  Annual renewal is $207. New members 25 years old or less pay only the initiation fee ($10) the first year. Deferred or monthly payments are available.  Credit cards may be used.  Lifetime memberships are available and are a real deal.
  • Uniforms:  A formal uniform and a casual chorus polo shirt are issued to each member.  You will be expected to return the formal uniform in good condition if you leave the chapter.  Each member is required to provide their own pair of black patent leather shoes.
What ongoing expenses will there be as a member?
  • Annual dues are currently $207.00/yr. (includes Society, District & Chapter) A heck of a deal at about $4.00 per week.
  • Housing and registration costs associated with attending our District contests or other district functions.
  • Expenses of attending International Conventions (optional)
  • Cleaning and any repair of your uniform.
  • Voluntary contributions to the Harmony Foundation (see below).
  • Any barbershop items you elect to purchase from the “Harmony Marketplace”.
  • Any food purchased at our weekly “afterglow”.
You can see that regular attendance at all rehearsals and other chapter activities is essential and is expected of all members, both old and new, if the chorus is to continue as a leader in the Rocky Mountain District.

Although no fixed rules have been set regarding attendance, each member is expected to be conscientious in participation in regular rehearsals, chapter administration, and the learning of songs.  Should a member become lax in any one of these areas, he can expect a gentle reminder of his obligations as a member of the Long Peaks Chorus.

The chorus music repertoire is quite large and could seem insurmountable to the new member. To speed the learning process, sheet music, learning tracks (MP3 files), are available.  The learning tracks, which we download from the chapter website, are (usually) part-predominant, full mix of parts, and part missing. Once you become a member you will be given access to the website and can then avail yourself of this valuable learning tool. Many members make their own media to practice with by downloading the practice tracks from our web site. Others transfer the learning tracks to thier phones. Our music and learning tracks are copyrighted and are for use ONLY by our members.
As a new member, you will be assigned a “Buddy”, someone to whom you can ask any questions and who will help you get oriented.

Voice Profile
Unless you have experience with barbershop singing and/or choral singing (and know which part you would like to sing), a voice profile will be done at your earliest convenience to determine which part you should be singing. If you are a casual visitor with no real intentions of repeat visits or joining, the voice profile check will not be required.

The Membership VP or greeter will put you in touch with one of our voice profile men who will take you aside and have you sing a chromatic scale (or reasonable facsimile) from the bottom to the top of your range.  From this simple exercise (done in private) he will determine in which of the parts he feels you will be most comfortable, and place you accordingly.

If you read music (it is not a requisite to joining the chorus), you may have noticed that the barbershop arrangements are scored (written) a little differently than ordinary music.  In the treble clef, middle C on our sheet music is the C below middle C.  We place it within the clef for ease of reading and writing only…it sure sounds strange if played on the piano as it’s written.
Barbershop Harmony Society
Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the society is composed of 17 districts, 800+ chapters and 15,000 members. The society sponsors, among other activities, the following events of interest:
  • The International Convention is held annually in July. This convention features Quartet (approx. 50) and Chorus (approx. 28) contests, as well as the annual Youth Quartet Contest (Under age 25).   This contest is hosted at different locations each year. Attendance is usually in the range of 3,000. .
  • An annual Mid-Winter convention (usually in a warm place). This convention features the International Seniors Quartet Contest (25 or so quartets), and the Youth Chorus Festival, which includes men and women under 25 years of age, as well as shows by the previous summer’s top 5 quartets, and special guests. Attendance is usually around 1,500.
  • A full week of Harmony University annually in July or August held at various colleges. Classes on a myriad of musical topics We call this “barbershop by immersion”. A real blast.
  • Leadership Training Seminar for new chapter officers once a year.
  • A bi-monthly BHS publication called “The Harmonizer”.
  • Chapter visitations by society music educators and other staff members.
  • Organizing and running the BHS judging program which is comprised of 160 judges (Music, Performance & Singing) and Contest Administrators.
There are affiliates of the BHS around the world who frequently send competitors to our two annual contests. Quartets from Sweden and New Zealand have recently won the International Quartet Contest. Other affiliates include England, Germany, Holland, Australia, Ireland, Finland, Spain and South Africa. It has been said that one is not truly a barbershopper until one has attended one of the BHS international events.

It would be well worth your while to check out the BHS website 
           Also it would be informative to visit youtube/barbershop and listen to some performances by                                international quartets and choruses to get a feel for the barbershop style and how great it can be.
Rocky Mountain District (RMD)
One of 17 districts in the BHS, the RMD sponsors the following events annually:
  • A fall district convention at which quartet and chorus contests are held. This includes qualifying contests to compete at the annual BHS International Contests.
  • A spring school with classes on many music and barbershop related subjects. A small quartet and chorus contest also occurs.
  • A leadership school to train new chapter officers.
Harmony Foundation
The Harmony Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, was incorporated in 1959 as the charitable arm of the Barbershop Harmony Society.  The foundation helps in preserving the musical legacy of the Barbershop Harmony Society through support of vocal music education in our schools and communities.  The foundation raises financial support for the society's programs.
Some examples are:
  • Provides Harmony Explosion Music Camps for youth throughout the country.
  • Sends BHS chorus directors and other music educators to Director's College. In 2022, the Longmont Chapter sent two area choral music teachers to Harmony University.
  • Subsidizes convention expenses for youth choruses to attend the annual Youth Chorus Festival held at the Mid-Winter Convention.
  • Collaborates with the ACDA (American Choral Directors Assn) and NAfME (National Assn for Music Education) to provide music and support materials for middle school, high school, and college music educators
  • Supplies Championship quartets to work with local choral music programs.
  • Provides convention scholarships to collegiate quartets.
  • The Longmont Chapter and the Rocky Mountain District are among the most generous contributors in the BHS.
  • For more information go to:
What is required of a member to belong?
  • To be able to sing and carry a melody, but it is not necessary for you to be able to read music.
  • That you make the commitment to support the chapter with your presence and your time whenever possible.
  • You will also be expected to participate in any scheduled LPC performance.
How will I know what part I sing?
          The voice profile mentioned earlier will determine your recommended part. Some leeway is given
          for personal preferences, and previous experience.

How much time will be required?

         To learn new music and to acquire a polished performance, it is necessary that you attend
         all practices if you are able.  We practice on Monday evenings from 7:00 to 9:30 PM.

         In addition, you will be expected (and it is necessary for all of us) to spend some time on
         your own to learn new pieces, since we perform without sheet music in hand.  MP3 files are available           to aid in learning. Listening to our learning tracks in the car is an
         easy way to learn the music.

Am I required to join a quartet?

         You are not required to join a quartet, but if you do, quartet singing will greatly improve your
          singing ability and confidence.

Are there any social and/or family activities?
The chorus has many “fun” activities during the year, such as:
  • “Afterglow” parties following annual shows and competitions at conventions.
  • Picnic
  • In addition, you are encouraged to bring your spouse & family to conventions and contests.
  • An annual awards and officer installation banquet.

    If you have additional questions that were not answered here, please feel free to ask anyone in the chorus.

    Thanks for your interest in the Longs Peak Chorus