Another in my series for school teachers with barbershop groups, this topic covers some basic fundamentals of the Showmanship category…
Choreo should be relevant, vocally supportive (or at least not detractive) and naturally expressive (not mechanical). Having a visual plan is simply ensuring that what is seen enhances the musical product and is entertaining rather than distracting from the music.
Facial expression is more important than choreo.
Physical freedom during singing is vital for vocal freedom and emotional involvement. The freedom of sound you hear from a true Gospel Choir is due in a large part to the fact that they move freely and constantly throughout their songs.
Visual Communication is about identifying with the character of the song’s ‘voice’ and putting across that character and message to the audience. Most people are highly visual in they way they take in information, and visually matching / enhancing the music is an important part of the barbershop artform. As with Opera and Broadway, barbershop is a dramatic musical form – this is why we have choruses not choirs, and directors not conductors.
Involve your Theatre Arts teachers in this process. Older students can contribute on the costuming side (‘character’ or ‘classic’ costuming) especially if you have a textiles programme in your school. Dance teachers may also be helpful to you.