Re: PIONEERS Meeting, etc. -- HEY KEN HATTON
- From the BQPA web site (www.bqpa.com), I see that Ken Hatton is
listed as a member of their advisory Board. Hey Kenny, what are your
thoughts on this?
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Joe De Felice <showglowjoe@...> wrote:
> Tom Neal et al,
> What a cowardly way to approach this situation. You have
> the entire SPEBSQSA organization, and I certainly hope someone from
> the Society responds to your unsupported claims and innuendos.
> It seems you are looking for sympathy with problems that face your
> own organization, by placing blame on where you have been
> for so many years. I for one cannot see it succeeding.
> Your withdrawal, I assume, is as an "affiliate" , which I had big
> problems with in any case. SPEBSQSA IS a Barbershop Harmony
> organization in and of itself with room for all forms, whether
> quartet or chorus. The chorus portion has been a major factor in
> membership as well as retention since first contests were held in
> what... 1953? No chapters are discouraged from more quartet
> participation, but I am sure the argument will continue forever as
> whether more should be done to ENcourage quartets.
> And whether or not the music is going in a less than true direction
> as BQPA seems to indicate, can be argued very well by the likes of
> the brilliant new Music Men/Arrangers of the most recent era. The
> music and musicality of SPEBSQSA have universally been improved
> the years, and is in the same hands that it has always been
> found.... the judging community. Yes several changes have been
> made, and remade, with critique and review following by those who
> have more interest than "it is not the way of old". Others have
> back and forth on this through the years, but holding forth in
> way or the hiway" as BQPA seems to want is anathema.
> There isn't any reason why we cannot get along together in what is
> now referred to as the BHS. Not much HARMONY in your Email
> invitation to break away from the fold.
> Joe De Felice
> At 12/28/2007 02:07 PM, BQPA1@... wrote:
> >The Barbershop Pioneers will hold it's thirty-fifth convention in
> >Boulder City, NV, at the Hacienda Hotel (702 293 5000) on
> >January 17-20. Great rooms for BBShoppers at $39.95!
> >Fly to Las Vegas and rent a car for the 38 mile drive to Boulder
> >on Lake Mead by the Hoover Dam.
> >The main purpose of this convention (besides great singing) will
> >establish the BQPA as a viable national organization that will
> >strongly resemble the
> >once-glorious SPEBSQSA. Last January, as a new affiliate
> >of the BHS, we hosted the very successful "Buffalo Bills Qtet
> >at the Albuquerque 2007 BHS Midwinter, only to learn several months
> >later that the event would not be held again. That convinced us
> >BHS had no intention of helping us succeed. We just can't figure
> >why they asked us to join ranks with them in the first place.
> >At the BHS's urging, we incorporated and joined them as an
> >be the "Preservation" arm for those who did not wish to
> >the radically new programs that the BHS had put in place.
> >We mistakenly figured that the ALB contest would be a good first
> >toward creating awareness that the BQPA could provide a reason for
> >them to continue their membership in the BHS.
> >We have withdrawn from the BHS. We were, in a word, scammed.
> >It's the bitter truth.
> >The BHS does not wish to address the issues that their own
> >This has resulted in a significant number of dropouts for them.
> >Rather than provide an option, they have chosen to disallow any
> >that would not be in lockstep with their "New World Vision" of the
> >becoming a multinational repository for completely different forms
> >a cappella singing. They have also gotten into the "business" by
> >(at great expense) to Nashville. Their broad membership was never
> >consulted in any of these decisions.
> >This is not what O. C. Cash had in mind.
> >We are forming an independent Society that WILL solve the issues
> >the many disaffected chapters and members now have.
> >If you wish to help in putting the BQPA together, please come to
> >City. This cannot be done unless enough people attend to help put
> >"show" on the road. Be prepared to do a lot of thankless volunteer
> >work. I hope you'll agree it's for a good cause.
> >Keep Barbershop Alive!
> >Tom Neal
> ><BR><BR><BR>**************************************<BR>See AOL's
> >Yahoo! Groups Links
- From the BQPA web site (www.bqpa.com), I see that Ken Hatton is
listed as a member of their advisory Board. Hey Kenny, what are your
thoughts on this?
Ouch! There's nothing like being put on the spot. I have been scaling back
my barbershop activities in favor of other musical adventures, but that
doesn't change the fact that I care about the Society, its leadership, its
dissenters, its members and former members. Since my opinion has been
specifically requested via this public forum, I must respond to avoid the
perception that I don't care about the outcome. This issue is within my
circle of concern, but I'm afraid it's outside my circle of influence. Rich
Hasty's request for my opinion made me think that perhaps there is a small
chance that I can influence the opinions of others. That thought creates a
responsibility for me to offer it.
The short version is: I would apply for membership with the new
organization suggested by Tom Neal, but would remain a member of the
Society. I allowed my name to be listed as a ember of the Advisory Board
because I was sympathetic to certain of the dissenters' concerns. I have no
commensurate corporate responsibility or liability, and I have not been
asked by the organization for my "advice."
OK, let's wade into the deeper water. A typical organization has 15%
leaders, 15% dissenters and 70% followers. When dissenters are given the
chance to have (adequate) input by the leaders, the organization has greater
unity, resulting in more human & financial resources, and greater energy
that's pushing in the same direction to get things done. When dissenters
feel "left out" of the decision-making, they have only four choices; 1.
Accept the status quo, 2. Act to change things from within, 3. Quit, or 4.
Start a new organization.
Many disgruntled Society chapter members have tried numbers 1-3, and
eventually resort to number 4 (a new chapter), usually with mediocre
results. That's because often, there turns out to be no measurable
difference between the ways the "old" chapter and the "new" chapter do
business. That leaves the followers in both chapters to assume that the
"real" reason for the split was to provide the dissenters with leadership
positions so they can be "big fish (often in a smaller pond)." The health
of each of the two chapters is affected in a negative way by the absence of
synergy that had been present before the split. The egos of the "old" and
"new" leaders and the loyalties of the followers prevent correction of the
bad decisions (by all parties) for years, and sometimes forever. Most of
the followers (who always had the power to stop the madness) continue to
follow blindly whosoever happens to have earned their personal loyalties.
Typically, the majority of the chapter's members stay with the original
chapter, while the new chapter is formed from a minority of existing chapter
The BQPA leadership is now in the same position now as those chapter
dissenters. But they aren't merely considering a new chapter, but a new
International organization. They have tried and failed to change things
from within, don't want to quit singing, and are not willing to accept the
So whose fault is it? Whether it's a chapter or the Society, if the leaders
had adequately included the dissenters in the decision-making, there
wouldn't have been a problem. If the dissenters had been better and more
willing communicators, they would have been elected to the International
Board of Directors, where their motions could be officially heard and voted
upon. If all the followers had become objectively and actively involved
with the deciders, instead of merely following, the leaders and dissenters
would have been likely to compromise. None of the three classes of member
alone caused the problem, but in a sense, all three are equally to blame for
the outcome, because of their common lack of corrective action at the right
Still, the followers seem to be more to blame than others, because they have
the best opportunity to be objective in their decision-making. The leaders
and the dissenters have positions of prestige at stake, which can cloud
their judgment, or at least create that appearance. Neither is "cowardly,"
as both exhibit great political courage in disseminating and executing their
opposing views. The followers, on the other hand, tend to hide behind the
"It's only a hobby!" and "I only wanted to do a little singin'." comments.
They either lack the political courage, the initiative or both. It doesn't
matter whether they're afraid of hurting the feelings of the leaders or the
dissenters, or if they're just too lazy; they simply don't make anything
happen. Most of them wait for the smoke to clear, and turn into
bandwagon-jumpers or hangers-on, referring to their inaction as "voting with
their feet." The result is that the decisions are made by the extremists,
rather than the more rational folks in the middle.
All that being said, I opine that Tom Neal's vision of the way things ought
to be might be attractive to a measurable minority of our Society's members.
That segment of "Barbershopdom" is old enough to remember the way things
used to be in Tom's heyday, the 1950s and 1960s. Those folks observed and
were included in woodshedding and tag singing at conventions. They recall
fondly when there was greater emphasis on quartet singing, and less on
perfection in chorus singing. Chapter meetings included devotion to those
several aspects of our hobby. There was almost as much focus on
recreational singing as there was on performing by ensembles. Performing
quartets were exclusive organizations, while in choruses, everybody was
allowed to participate.
More recetly, quartet singers and chorus directors who envisoned themselves
as rock stars or full-time professional barbershoppers ultimately found
themselves with serious family and/or career problems. We've sent our
donations to radio stations to bribe radio and Internet stations to play our
barbershop music, rather than challenge them to find commercial sponsors.
We apparently have lots of members who actually believe barbershop
ensembles can be accepted by the masses as mainstream performers, and they
have been willing to disparage our recreational singers to pursue that
vacant dream. To that end, we have deleted the word "Barbershop" from our
vocabularies, and we've actually been discussing in recent years whether or
not to "allow" certain Society quartets and choruses to perform in public.
I must admit that I too long for the good ol' days. There were more Society
members, in part, because chapters encouraged men to join, regardless of
their individual talent levels. The music produced by choruses was not
nearly as perfect as that being performed by today's highly disciplined
chorus contest winners. However, there were lots more fellows experiencing
the thrill of belonging, and their voices were included in an occasional
ringing chord, a woodshed song, a tag or even an organized quartet. I
remember what a thrill that was for them because I stood next to them on the
risers or sang in a pickup quartet with them. I met them in their homes for
extra rehearsals, and I encouraged and was encouraged by them. I witnessed
the full risers and the full houses and busy quartet activity at annual
chapter shows all around the country. Some of those regular guys also
became great personal friends, and in my mind, the fraternal aspect of the
Society was truly its most valuable asset. Sure, we had our hero quartets,
but we knew that their strength emanated from the regular Society member.
I remember also what a terrible disappointment it was for those same fellows
to be asked later on to step down from their performing choruses. Rather
than be treated like second class citizens, many of them lost interest, and
we lost the pleasure of their company. Now those former members and many
subsequent applicants who might have become members have no official
standing and no votes. It's unlikely that they will ever be allowed by the
votes of the current members-in-good-standing to participate in chapters of
our great Society, which was once greater due to their very presence.
That's why I'm curious about the formation of a new society. I'm not too
interested in whether the songs, arrangements and vocal style it produces
are reminiscent of the Society's quartets of the 1950s and 1960s. That's
Tom's deal. The current Society allows both traditional and progressive
barbershop renditions of American popular songs (almost none of which were
ever written specifically for barbershop quartets). Both have artistic
value, and both are a cappella with the melody sandwiched between harmony
parts. If one is better than the other, it will become apparent in the
performances. The Society contests allow different vocal styles as well,
and although the current coaching/judging trend misapplies the " tall"
choral sound to quartets, I believe the mass audience will force correction
of that error over time. Although contest audiences are inclined to
"follow" the judges, rather than apply their own taste, I believe the
Emporer's New Clothes" syndrome will eventually correct itself, just like in
the fairy tale. No, I'm more interested in how inclusive this new society
will be where men with average musical ability who like to sing are
Don't get me wrong. I like to hear and sing great music well whenever I
can. I believe quartets will continue to create the higher art in either
Society or both, because of the cornucopia of emotions that can be expressed
by a single voice on each of the four parts. Choruses just can't do that,
so their emotional impact is comparatively two-dimensional, no matter how
precise they are. But the fraternal aspect of choruses and the opportunity
they might again provide for the average singer (to have something similar
to the quartet experience) make them a desirable entity.
In reality, the Society is destined to become a smaller organization of
elite singers who are focused mainly on choral singing, and during my
lifetime, I too will be asked to step down from somebody's risers. But the
Society's future is assured, thanks to the intelligent 15 years of effort we
have spent to focus on recruitment of young men. I believe the new BQPA
will be a short-lived organization, serving the needs of only those of us
who remember how great things used to be until all of us are dead. Yes,
it's likely that the new BQPA society will ultimately fail, but no matter.
It maybe able to provide needed enjoyment for the minority of interested
Society members and former members during the last years of their lives.
My own worst failure would be to stay on the sidelines, and not take any
chances for fear of hurting the little feelings of parties on one side or
Kenny Ray (Hatton)
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Thanks so much for your long and well-thought out response. I think it
reinforces much of what I have come to conclude about BQPA as well as
how we got here.
I won't amplify any of your points, because I agreed with nearly all.
I will just share a few additional ones.
The BQPA that you desire is the same one I hope can be successful,
either within or outside the walls of the society. In my short 30
years, I have seen a distinct shift in the dynamic of the chapter
towards a chorus approach and away from a balance of chorus, quartet
and fraternal. That, in and of itself, may or may not be the issue.
But when one adds into the polarization of our society along the
boundaries of chorus competition, we have lost many members. I see a
BQPA organization regrounding the membership on the joys of quartetting
(or, for that matter, a quartet-oriented chapter within our society).
If it requires a BQPA to re-establish this, then fine.
Where I have disagreed significantly enough with BQPA that I won't
throw my support (as you have) is on two premises. The first is that
membership will thrive if you do it "that way". First of all, nothing
has ever stopped anyone from forming a BQPA-like chapter anywhere in
this country. If people were truly clamoring for a chapter like this,
then we would see evidence already. Facts are that all fraternal
organizations are suffering today, not just BHS/SPEBSQSA. My one hope
for BQPA's launching was to either prove me wrong (and I'm always happy
to be wrong on this) or put this one to bed. The other premise is on
the competition front. Although I'm a judge today, I don't think there
is any difference in whether you have a 5-category system or a 4-
category system or a 3-category system or whatever. (I openly
challenged BQPA last year before the BB contest to set up an open forum
after the contest to show how the 5 category system was superior in
rank-ordering the competitors.) Anyway, I have attempted privately to
point out to the BQPA leadership that fighting this competition front
does not play to the potential upside of the organization, to no
BQPA has the distinct opportunity to fill a niche. Ken said it himself
(I've lost the clip now - sorry, Ken) but there is a non-trivial
portion of our membership who want the quartet and fraternal aspect of
their past again that they can't get from their existing chapter or
local chapters. IMO that should be what BQPA should be promoting and
working towards. If that day comes, they will have my support. As
long as they continue to lobby for Buffalo Bills contests and tearing
down the BHS, they will not have my support.
--- In email@example.com, "Ken Hatton" <khatton@...> wrote:
> I must admit that I too long for the good ol' days.
All of you know Gene Cokeroft, tenor of the Suntones and barbershop
hero to us all. I had the great fortune to room with him on his last
judging assignment before he retired to give his gifts in other ways.
We sang wonderful old-time tags and such, and eventually I said to
Gene, "Gee, I miss the good old days (I only have 30 years in
barbershop)". Gene looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Kevin,
right now are the good old days". It caught me by surprise, but
eventually it dawned on me that we have the choice to make. We can
make our own destiny. We can create our environment to enjoy, or
simply wallow in what happened in the past.
When we are exposed to something new, it is exciting and thrilling. We
desire to immerse ourselves in it and learn as much as we can. This is
human nature as it relates to any endeavor, not just barbershop.
Gene's calling to me was to enjoy every moment of life, and on a deeper
level, I can make the choice as to how I want to enjoy it.
- The one thing you fail to consider in this otherwise excellent post is
that the BQPA has only tried to re-mold the BHS in their image and they
are not interested in compromise. they have been heard, and as in many
cases, their view has not been adopted by the larger organization...
and they are leaving, as they should.
Proud Owner of SING which raised $10,295 for YSF in 2007
Score Collector for SING (and the site below)
Life Member, Reg 10, TX, USA - 35 years so far
http: //groups.yahoo . com/group/SweetAdelinesScores
lovejoymar @ sbcglobal.net <--remove spaces from links and edress
On Dec 31, 2007, at 1:18 AM, Ken Hatton wrote:
> Many disgruntled Society chapter members have tried numbers 1-3, and
> eventually resort to number 4 (a new chapter), usually with mediocre
> results. That's because often, there turns out to be no measurable
> difference between the ways the "old" chapter and the "new" chapter do
> business. That leaves the followers in both chapters to assume that
> "real" reason for the split was to provide the dissenters with
> positions so they can be "big fish (often in a smaller pond)." The
> of each of the two chapters is affected in a negative way by the
> absence of
> synergy that had been present before the split. The egos of the "old"
> "new" leaders and the loyalties of the followers prevent correction of
> bad decisions (by all parties) for years, and sometimes forever. Most
> the followers (who always had the power to stop the madness) continue
> follow blindly whosoever happens to have earned their personal
> Typically, the majority of the chapter's members stay with the original
> chapter, while the new chapter is formed from a minority of existing
> The BQPA leadership is now in the same position now as those chapter
> dissenters. But they aren't merely considering a new chapter, but a
> International organization. They have tried and failed to change
> from within, don't want to quit singing, and are not willing to accept
> status quo.
>Ouch! There's nothing like being put on the spot.Well said. I think you expressed the thoughts of a lot of members,
non-members and ex-members.
- In a message dated 12/31/07 4:57:44 PM, saherman@... writes:
> >Ouch! There's nothing like being put on the spot.
> Well said. I think you expressed the thoughts of a lot of members,
> non-members and ex-members.
> Shelley Herman
Great Falls, MT
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