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Re: [bbshop] Re: Society and declining membership

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  • Bill Byrd
    Just remember, all politics is local. No one wins an election without local boots on the ground getting the vote out. It s the same for us. In order for the
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 30, 2013
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      Just remember, all politics is local. No one wins an election without
      local boots on the ground getting the vote out. It's the same for us. In
      order for the societies (BHS,SAI, & HI) to grow we have to do it on a local
      level. Each chapter needs to rekindle the spirit and recruit. International
      headquarters can help, but it's up to us locally to make the changes.People
      do not join the society, they join the local chapter or chorus.
      I have read that it is the emphasis on contest that is driving members
      away, but I see lots of good competition choruses with over 100 singers
      bringing in more all the time, and very good competition choruses. How many
      social chapters do you know of with 100 members?
      Not that I oppose social groups I direct one, the point is things
      have changed since 37 years ago when I joined, and we need to be better at
      finding members in our local community. The societies can help, but we must
      win the battle in our own backyards, that's where the members come from.
      Bill Byrd
      Christopher Newport University Theater major.


      On Sat, Mar 30, 2013 at 11:22 AM, Norm Starks <nlstarks@...> wrote:

      > **
      >
      >
      > Dang, that's a pretty good essay! Thank you, Phyl! You speak a lot of
      > truth.
      >
      > Norm Starks
      >
      >
      > ________________________________
      > From: "Gemsinger58@...58@...>
      > To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Saturday, March 30, 2013 10:16 AM
      > Subject: [bbshop] Re: Society and declining membership
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > So, not a guy and don't want to pretend that I understand the nuances in
      > how your society functions differently than ours. Setting that aside, this
      > is what I think!
      >
      > First...some history. Our chorus started small, grew to 75 women under a
      > world class director. After she moved on, we hired a director who was an
      > amazing musician, but completely NOT a fit for our "family. The chorus,
      > during that time went from 75 down to 34. At that point, she retired, and
      > we
      > hired one of y'all...an amazing man AND musician. We grew from 34 to 65,
      > won 4 regional first place medals and one second. But, alas, he decided to
      > retire. We were wildly fortunate to find and hire the MOST amazing young
      > woman. In her first two years, we have grown from 60 to 82...many of them
      > under 40 years old. So, you can say we have ridden the roller coaster.
      >
      > When I look at that history, I can see a chapter that grew when it was
      > happy, working on awesome music, and able to win. Through all of the ups
      > and
      > downs, we have maintained that which is most important to us, that we are
      > a
      > family. Are we dysfunctional sometimes? Yes. Is there griping
      > sometimes? Yes. I have never met a family where all of that and more
      > didn't
      > happen. But we all know that, at the end of the day, we come together to
      > get it
      > done.
      >
      > We also sing well...which is important. It is easier to attract people
      > when they listen to you and say WOW! Our current director is a bear for
      > vocal skills and we do at least 30 minutes of warmups and vocal exercises
      > every
      > week. As much as that sounds like no fun...the difference is astounding.
      > We have been fortunate to have had directors who are interested and able
      > to move us forward vocally...and after all of those years, there is still
      > something more to learn. We have goals!
      >
      > As for our regional and International leadership? They can't fix all your
      > problems and it is disingenuous to believe that they can. It is our
      > responsibility at the regional level to know who our choruses are and keep
      > track
      > of them. Know their people, keep in touch, and try to help before the
      > worst happens. They singing badly? Get some help in there. Numbers
      > dropping? Get your membership person to get in there, figure out why and
      > help put
      > together a plan that you are a part of to turn things around. Finally,
      > someone at ground level has to pick up the yoke and work. The programs
      > coming
      > from upstairs not working for your chapter? Then tweak the heck out of
      > them to make them work for you.
      >
      > Ok...off my soapbox now. Have a lovely holiday weekend!
      >
      > peace, phyl
      > greater richmond chorus
      > section leader
      > past regional and chorus membership coordinator
      > Between quartets and missing it hugely
      >
      > Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates
      > walls to arrive at it's destination full of hope.�.....Maya Angelou
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • dent888sly187
      Gentlemen and women: Although not currently active in the Society, I have spent a great deal of my adult life in Barbershopping. I have been a member of both
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 30, 2013
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        Gentlemen and women:
        Although not currently active in the Society, I have spent a great deal of my adult life in Barbershopping. I have been a member of both the exclusively "fun" chapters, a wannabe competitive chapter (which has been foundering ever since it won district) and one that combined the best of both worlds (although never winning in the usual sense of the word--we had our own definition of winning which was doing the best we could at the time). Therefore I believe I can contribute to several parts of this discussion.
        My first-hand experience took place over several years. As I recall, the first time I presented my membership plan had to be in the Lloyd Steinkamp/Dave Stevens era, although I'm not singling them out as being one of the culprits. Just a point of reference as to time. I presented the plan to several of the top dogs in the Society at the time. A few years ago, when the subject of membership made its periodic visit to this forum and Charlie Davenport was Society Director of Membership, I presented the plan to him. Again, I'm not casting stones at him because apparently he was just a conduit to those that made these types of decisions.
        As has happened more than once in my life (and drives me nearly insane), my idea(s) were not only not acted upon but, worse, seemingly ignored. No comments from the authorities-in-charge as to why this or that might work if we tweaked it a little; no "we don't think this is a good idea because..."; no anything but silence. I think this is one of the reasons there are so many upset barbershoppers out there--their voices are not being heard.
        Anyway, to present the plan to this august body of people that want to see something done and are willing to accomplish it:
        When I was in college, I sang with the glee club. Towards the end of the school year, a list was circulated amongst us with the names and hometowns of those who had been accepted to the college and had indicated at least some experience in singing in high school. We, as members of the glee club, were expected to cull the list for people living in or near the area of our home town, write them a personal letter welcoming them to Cal Poly and inviting them to try out for the glee club when they arrived in the fall. The group was limited to 80 men, and was somewhat competitive as to who was admitted but we always filled our roster.
        My question to you and the leadership is: why can't we use a version of the same system to bolster our ranks? It's all well and good that we are trying to make inroads into the high schools, but, as has been noted, those graduating high school have a lot more pressing issues to deal with than singing barbershop. I am firmly of the opinion that we should be looking closer at the college would-be alumni--they are far more mature and settled than their high school counterparts. I realize it is probably impossible to get the requisite list(s) from the various institutions of higher learning, but why not give this a try:
        I would guess that, of the approximately 20,000 men in BHS, at least half have attended college. I would also guess that many, if not most, participated in some organized part of their respective music departments. Why not have as many of these men as possible contact their alma mater (more specifically the music department) and write something like "There is a singing life after you graduate from ______". The way I envision it, the Society could compose a template that could (and should) be modified by the individual member before sending it to his school. In order to save money, the letter could be put in the Harmonizer and copied and edited at the member's discretion. Also, the Society could create some form of flyer or poster (also inserted in the Harmonizer) that could be used on the school's music department bulletin board. Cost to the Society for these two tools: practically nil. Then it's up to the individual members and chapters. Each man would write to the music department of his school and/or the head of the department attempting to gain a foothold. Sure, the program would probably not receive 100% cooperation from the schools, but think of the ramifications if we were to reach even 1000 colleges and universities. Also, there may be chapters that never see any positive results from this, but I would bet there would be a lot that do. Cost to the Society for stage two: zero; cost to the chapter and/or individual: the price of a color copy at Kinko's and a postage stamp. So simple even a caveman can do it.
        So there is my love song. Attack it all you want, modify it if you will but DO NOT IGNORE IT. I predict that if the program were used, the Society would see a significant increase in membership.
        So there.

        Don Goss
      • Charlie Davenport
        No offense at all taken and I hope this does not become defensive sounding... As I mentioned by when this was first discussed with me, this is a great idea...
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 31, 2013
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          No offense at all taken and I hope this does not become defensive sounding... As I mentioned by when this was first discussed with me, this is a great idea... but, once again then and now it requires manpower and $$.

          HOWEVER, again mentioned back when first presented, this (and any other of the ideas discussed)could be done by the thought originators ON THE LOCAL LEVEL, establish the process, document how it was done, document the success it had, and then spread the word...

          It goes without saying that it is much easier to show someone how to succeed by example, then it is to tell them how to succeed.

          You weren't ignored in those days, and we did exchange emails that are still in my archives... there just weren't the resources either financial or manpower wise to get it done.

          Charlie D.

          --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "dent888sly187" <dontemailme@...> wrote:
          >
          > Gentlemen and women:
          > Although not currently active in the Society, I have spent a great deal of my adult life in Barbershopping. I have been a member of both the exclusively "fun" chapters, a wannabe competitive chapter (which has been foundering ever since it won district) and one that combined the best of both worlds (although never winning in the usual sense of the word--we had our own definition of winning which was doing the best we could at the time). Therefore I believe I can contribute to several parts of this discussion.
          > My first-hand experience took place over several years. As I recall, the first time I presented my membership plan had to be in the Lloyd Steinkamp/Dave Stevens era, although I'm not singling them out as being one of the culprits. Just a point of reference as to time. I presented the plan to several of the top dogs in the Society at the time. A few years ago, when the subject of membership made its periodic visit to this forum and Charlie Davenport was Society Director of Membership, I presented the plan to him. Again, I'm not casting stones at him because apparently he was just a conduit to those that made these types of decisions.
          > As has happened more than once in my life (and drives me nearly insane), my idea(s) were not only not acted upon but, worse, seemingly ignored. No comments from the authorities-in-charge as to why this or that might work if we tweaked it a little; no "we don't think this is a good idea because..."; no anything but silence. I think this is one of the reasons there are so many upset barbershoppers out there--their voices are not being heard.
          > Anyway, to present the plan to this august body of people that want to see something done and are willing to accomplish it:
          > When I was in college, I sang with the glee club. Towards the end of the school year, a list was circulated amongst us with the names and hometowns of those who had been accepted to the college and had indicated at least some experience in singing in high school. We, as members of the glee club, were expected to cull the list for people living in or near the area of our home town, write them a personal letter welcoming them to Cal Poly and inviting them to try out for the glee club when they arrived in the fall. The group was limited to 80 men, and was somewhat competitive as to who was admitted but we always filled our roster.
          > My question to you and the leadership is: why can't we use a version of the same system to bolster our ranks? It's all well and good that we are trying to make inroads into the high schools, but, as has been noted, those graduating high school have a lot more pressing issues to deal with than singing barbershop. I am firmly of the opinion that we should be looking closer at the college would-be alumni--they are far more mature and settled than their high school counterparts. I realize it is probably impossible to get the requisite list(s) from the various institutions of higher learning, but why not give this a try:
          > I would guess that, of the approximately 20,000 men in BHS, at least half have attended college. I would also guess that many, if not most, participated in some organized part of their respective music departments. Why not have as many of these men as possible contact their alma mater (more specifically the music department) and write something like "There is a singing life after you graduate from ______". The way I envision it, the Society could compose a template that could (and should) be modified by the individual member before sending it to his school. In order to save money, the letter could be put in the Harmonizer and copied and edited at the member's discretion. Also, the Society could create some form of flyer or poster (also inserted in the Harmonizer) that could be used on the school's music department bulletin board. Cost to the Society for these two tools: practically nil. Then it's up to the individual members and chapters. Each man would write to the music department of his school and/or the head of the department attempting to gain a foothold. Sure, the program would probably not receive 100% cooperation from the schools, but think of the ramifications if we were to reach even 1000 colleges and universities. Also, there may be chapters that never see any positive results from this, but I would bet there would be a lot that do. Cost to the Society for stage two: zero; cost to the chapter and/or individual: the price of a color copy at Kinko's and a postage stamp. So simple even a caveman can do it.
          > So there is my love song. Attack it all you want, modify it if you will but DO NOT IGNORE IT. I predict that if the program were used, the Society would see a significant increase in membership.
          > So there.
          >
          > Don Goss
          >
        • Rich Taylor
          Hi again to all my barbershop brothers and sisters; What a pleasure to see my old friend Don Goss post to this forum. He was a strong influence to a very
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 31, 2013
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            Hi again to all my barbershop brothers and sisters;

            What a pleasure to see my old friend Don Goss post to this forum. He was a
            strong influence to a very successful quartet I sang in in the early 1980's
            and made a strong impression on me as to singing the "best you could
            whenever you sang".

            With all due respect to all of those who have posted and commented on what
            is "wrong" with the society and what "others" need to do to correct the
            problems, I still maintain that the only people who will solve this
            problem/dilemma are the MEMBERS!

            We have listened for more than a week now about ideas of what others must
            do to change...the Headquarters staff, the International Board of
            Directors, the new CEO, the District Officers ... ad nauseum. What I have
            not heard is what EACH OF THE POSTERS ARE COMMITTED TO DOING. Don mentions
            a program that seems easy enough for ANYONE who attended a college. No one
            but the individual has to be involved. Make up a letter, or make a phone
            call to your alma mater. Introduce yourself to the head of the current
            Music Department and let them know about the opportunity that barbershop
            provides. And how about all of you who are members of your
            college/university alumnae clubs. Why not place an ad or write a story for
            their newsletter telling the alumnae about the Barbershop Harmony Society
            and let them know how they can "find" their local chapter.

            I have a challenge for every one of the 23,000 men of the Barbershop
            Harmony Society (or S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A if you prefer that name). I have
            already joined the 23K project to contact all of you in the next year.
            Last year I made a commitment or bring in one member in the Harold Hill
            Project and I was fortunate to bring in 4 new members. This week, I am
            going to write an email to our new CEO, Marty Monson and advise him that I
            am giving him MY COMMITMENT to bring in at least 2 new members in 2013, and
            that I will contact my alma mater and see if there is something I can do to
            promote barbershop to their alumnae.

            I challenge every person who has posted to this forum with their ideas on
            how to "solve" the problem to do exactly as I am doing. Use Paul
            Ellinger's approach and watch what happens to the men you approach. Talk
            to men who have clear speaking voices and ask "where they like to do their
            singing". Invite them to your chapter and PICK THEM UP. Sing a tag with
            them during the meeting. Call your alma mater and get the word out abour
            "acappella life after college". And maker a personal commitment to bring
            in 2 members this year. Tell Marty Monson what YOU will do to solve the
            problem.

            Sorry again for the length but, if you haven't figured it out, I am
            passionate about barbershop and I know that if we are to solve the
            membership problem, EACH OF US has to get the new members......ONE AT A
            TIME.

            In Harmony

            Rich Taylor
            Director of the Rahway Jerseyaires
            Assistant Director Sussex County High Point Harmonizers


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • nlstarks
            Rich, you are so right. The answer to the diminishing of the size of our organization is really quite simple. As president, it s one I have challenged my own
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 31, 2013
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              Rich, you are so right. The answer to the diminishing of the size of our organization is really quite simple. As president, it's one I have challenged my own chapter to achieve this year...each one bring one. If every man would commit to that simple goal, then do as much asking as it takes, go by and pick your guest up, sing tags with them, and gain his membership, our chapter (and Society) will double in size in one year.
              I'm upset by the negativity, complaining, and the attitude of "I am the one with the answers." Let's quit blaming our leadership and do what each one of us should be doing...share your love for this great hobby by reproducing yourself in it!

              Norm Starks

              Sent from my iPad

              On Mar 31, 2013, at 10:46 AM, Rich Taylor <musicmanrichrmt@...> wrote:

              > Hi again to all my barbershop brothers and sisters;
              >
              > What a pleasure to see my old friend Don Goss post to this forum. He was a
              > strong influence to a very successful quartet I sang in in the early 1980's
              > and made a strong impression on me as to singing the "best you could
              > whenever you sang".
              >
              > With all due respect to all of those who have posted and commented on what
              > is "wrong" with the society and what "others" need to do to correct the
              > problems, I still maintain that the only people who will solve this
              > problem/dilemma are the MEMBERS!
              >
              > We have listened for more than a week now about ideas of what others must
              > do to change...the Headquarters staff, the International Board of
              > Directors, the new CEO, the District Officers ... ad nauseum. What I have
              > not heard is what EACH OF THE POSTERS ARE COMMITTED TO DOING. Don mentions
              > a program that seems easy enough for ANYONE who attended a college. No one
              > but the individual has to be involved. Make up a letter, or make a phone
              > call to your alma mater. Introduce yourself to the head of the current
              > Music Department and let them know about the opportunity that barbershop
              > provides. And how about all of you who are members of your
              > college/university alumnae clubs. Why not place an ad or write a story for
              > their newsletter telling the alumnae about the Barbershop Harmony Society
              > and let them know how they can "find" their local chapter.
              >
              > I have a challenge for every one of the 23,000 men of the Barbershop
              > Harmony Society (or S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A if you prefer that name). I have
              > already joined the 23K project to contact all of you in the next year.
              > Last year I made a commitment or bring in one member in the Harold Hill
              > Project and I was fortunate to bring in 4 new members. This week, I am
              > going to write an email to our new CEO, Marty Monson and advise him that I
              > am giving him MY COMMITMENT to bring in at least 2 new members in 2013, and
              > that I will contact my alma mater and see if there is something I can do to
              > promote barbershop to their alumnae.
              >
              > I challenge every person who has posted to this forum with their ideas on
              > how to "solve" the problem to do exactly as I am doing. Use Paul
              > Ellinger's approach and watch what happens to the men you approach. Talk
              > to men who have clear speaking voices and ask "where they like to do their
              > singing". Invite them to your chapter and PICK THEM UP. Sing a tag with
              > them during the meeting. Call your alma mater and get the word out abour
              > "acappella life after college". And maker a personal commitment to bring
              > in 2 members this year. Tell Marty Monson what YOU will do to solve the
              > problem.
              >
              > Sorry again for the length but, if you haven't figured it out, I am
              > passionate about barbershop and I know that if we are to solve the
              > membership problem, EACH OF US has to get the new members......ONE AT A
              > TIME.
              >
              > In Harmony
              >
              > Rich Taylor
              > Director of the Rahway Jerseyaires
              > Assistant Director Sussex County High Point Harmonizers
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Stephen Rafe
              Norm -- Challenging men to do something is not the same as doing something. Let us know how your challenge was acted upon. We need leaders with new ideas, new
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 31, 2013
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                Norm --

                Challenging men to do something is not the same as doing something. Let us know how your challenge was acted upon.

                We need leaders with new ideas, new ways of valuing administrative leadership, new methods of following through. What we've had for the past 20 years hasn't worked or we wouldn't have been having this conversation.

                Stephen
                STEPHEN RAFE

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: nlstarks@...
                To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2013 3:05 PM
                Subject: Re: [bbshop] Re: Society and declining membership



                Rich, you are so right. The answer to the diminishing of the size of our organization is really quite simple. As president, it's one I have challenged my own chapter to achieve this year...each one bring one. If every man would commit to that simple goal, then do as much asking as it takes, go by and pick your guest up, sing tags with them, and gain his membership, our chapter (and Society) will double in size in one year.
                I'm upset by the negativity, complaining, and the attitude of "I am the one with the answers." Let's quit blaming our leadership and do what each one of us should be doing...share your love for this great hobby by reproducing yourself in it!

                Norm Starks



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Keith Eckhardt
                There are two kinds of people: Pumps and Valves – I’m a pump There are two kinds of people: Downbeat and upbeat – I’m upbeat There are two kinds of
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 31, 2013
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                  There are two kinds of people: Pumps and Valves – I’m a pump
                  There are two kinds of people: Downbeat and upbeat – I’m upbeat
                  There are two kinds of people: Talkers and Doers – I’m a doer. (OK, I’m a talker too.)
                  There are two ways you can be successful in personal recruiting: engage the people you meet in musical conversation and if that isn’t working, change what you are doing for the better.
                  In the last eight days:
                  Last Sunday on the way home from the FWD Prelims we stopped by the house we lived in 10 years ago. We knew the owners had the house on the market again and we wanted to see the place. But the stranger at the door was the next owner. We explained who we were and chatted for 45 minutes. Eventually I got around to singing. He said in a month when the house is in better order he wants to look up the men’s choir he heard was nearby. I handed him my chapter business card and said “Do mean this one?” Yes, in fact, he did and will be showing up soon.
                  When we finally arrived home on Sunday I found a message on our answering machine. A man named Scott had found my chapter ad in a local free newspaper. I called him. He showed up Tuesday night and had a great time. He is new to the area, was very involved in a community choir and musical theater in the past, and reads music. On Tuesday in the mail he’ll get a thank you letter and a certificate confirming he rang chords with the Gold Rush Chorus last Tuesday. He’ll be back.
                  On Wednesday I waited for my wife in a fast food restaurant, working at my laptop. A man approached me and asked if I actually had wi-fi access. I said no, I was just editing a document. He ended up joining me and we talked about ... music. He said that he sings and would shortly be auditioning for a part at our local community theater. He wants to be Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. If he doesn’t get the part he will visit us in a couple weeks. Otherwise he will visit us next January. He said he noticed the magnetic sign on my car stating Singers Wanted. I was also wearing my chapter jacket with an 8 inch chapter logo on the back. It’s really hard to miss.
                  So, who are you of the two kinds above and what are you doing to share your incredible hobby with those you meet?
                  If your BHS chapter is like mine, half of the members do not get it. Prove it by logging into ebiz, go to your chapter page. At the top you will see the roster count. Then count the number of members that show a zero in the MON (Man Of Note) column. My chapter is at exactly 50%. I know where our lagging membership problem lies.
                  Keith Eckhardt
                  VP Membership, D009 Placerville – Gold Rush Chorus
                  FWD Convention Activities Chairman
                  BHS Project 23K Webmaster (dues paid up members at quarter end was 23,001)

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • dent888sly187
                  Charlie, Perhaps you didn t read the post as thoroughly as you might. I
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 31, 2013
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                    Charlie,
                    Perhaps you didn't read the post as thoroughly as you might.

                    <this is a great idea...
                    but, once again then and now it requires manpower and $$.>

                    I believe I showed that the program would require very little manpower from the Society--how much time and effort would it take to create a template letter and a flyer/poster). And it should take even less money, as practically all the cost would be borne by the local chapter and the members who elect to participate.

                    <this (and any other of the
                    ideas discussed)could be done by the thought originators ON THE LOCAL LEVEL,>

                    Why? Seems to me the program would be much more effective if done nation-wide.

                    Well, as Mr. Rafe pointed out, "My educated guess based on experience is that the people in this group will either not respond to the proposal you outlined in your post or will applaud it and then let it pass into oblivion."
                    So it is.

                    Don Goss
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