On Wednesday I visited the newly-renamed Harmony InSpires chorus near Oxford for a coaching session. They are one of the many success stories of barbershop choruses transforming themselves through running Learn to Sing courses, having more than doubled their numbers since the start of the autumn. If they get many more members they’re going to need to find a bigger hall to rehearse in!
One thing I found fascinating, though, was that coming in as an outsider, I really couldn’t tell easily who were the new members and who had been singing with them for years unless someone told me explicitly one way or the other. Just observing the body language as they sang and the social interactions, there was an incredible sense of consistency and of belonging to the same social and musical world, even though more than half had only joined in the last few weeks.
So I have several hypotheses as to why this might be the case: