Harmony University

Ah, Harmony University -- the most enriching experience for any singer (or vocal music educator).

Having returned from my favourite week of the summer, I thought I'd reiterate why it's still such a great time.

What is Harmony University?
Harmony University is hailed as "the best barbershop experience you will ever have". But what is it really?

In short, it is a retreat in which hundreds of singers from all over the world gather to learn more about vocal music with an emphasis on the barbershop style (with obvious applications to choral and a cappella music). Held on an actual university campus, the "university" consists of multiple "colleges" which have their own classes focused on that area: Harmony College (well-rounded, general studies), Director's College (theory and technique), and Quartet College (individual coaching).

Top 10 Reasons to Attend HU
  1. Learn about a cappella singing from the best barbershop instructors in the land. There's a class for everyone! Theory? History? Chorus? Directing? Coaching? You name it.
  2. It provides a thoughtful, organised, schedule with no pressure. There's always something fun to do, yet it never seems overwhelming.
  3. Re-experience highlights from the international convention. Besides live performances of the champions, you can also watch and discuss footage from the most recent convention. 
  4. Rub elbows with your barbershop heroes and icons -- including the international champions and other legends. Forget who won what and does what for a living. You're all here to enjoy yourselves.
  5. Sing as much you want throughout the week. It's guaranteed to improve your singing and vocal technique.
  6. Meet tons of new, lifelong friends. To this day, some of my best friends I met at HU.
  7. Harmony MarketplaceBuy items in person from the catalogue -- from apparel to sheet music -- at reduced prices.
  8. Everyone is just so darn friendly. The staff is amazing and quite accommodating. They really intend for you to get the most out of your experience, and it shows.
  9. All-You-Can-Eat ice cream! The variety in toppings and flavours is astounding.
  10. Completely worth it for the price. Plus there's a discount for people 25 or under. And there are even scholarships available.
Source: HU homepage (with my own additions)
Schedule (in case you were wondering)
  • General sessions (everyone): on Sunday night and every morning. Each day, they do warmups and focus on one of several songs (sent via mail upon registration).
  • Classes: Four two-hour, student-specific sessions, Mon-Sat. For variety, Session 3 consists of two one-hour sessions, and Session 4 is a different course Mon-Wed.
  • Meals: The buffet-style beakfast, lunch, and dinner are served between sessions.
  • Outdoor barbecue and concert: Thursday night, featuring quartets, as well as choruses with all newcomers. No dining hall food!
  • Quartet Parade: Friday night concert, featuring all quartets who attended for weeklong coaching.
  • Chorus concert: Saturday night concert, featuring the youth chorus (< 26 years), directors chorus (all directors attending), honours chorus (advanced singers), with the guest singers being the international quartet champions from the past year. Plus, it's open to the public.
In looking back at my Harmony University experiences, it really feels like it takes all the best things about college (like meaningful courses, worthwhile friends, and insightful conversations) and strips away all the complications (like studying, exams, and priorities). With six full days of fun, it has the perfect balance of length and variety to keep you engaged the entire time.

I should reiterate that it's a steal of a deal for the price. For only about $500 (cheaper if you're under 26), you get a well-balanced schedule of relax seminars, concerts, and general socialising -- and with all meals and housing. They even includes school supplies and linens for your room! Really, all you have to bring is yourself and your belongings.

No comments:

Post a Comment