Practice. Practice. Practice.
I recently attended an International Barbershop Harmony competition in Las Vegas with my dad and one of my uncles. I had an image running through my brain that we would be miserable hearing old songs over and over again but I was wrong! The harmonies and passion that the men in the quartets and choruses produced was nothing short of amazing! I experienced so much more than just great music on that trip and I would like to share with you some of my observations…
The amount of work that goes into a men’s barbershop chorus or quartet to get to an international competition has to be unbelievable! I can only imagine the countless hours that these men practice their dance choreography and their intricate vocal parts. They have to fine tune multiple songs so that their performance appears effortless. The jokes have to be timed perfectly, dances meticulously rehearsed, and the harmonies impeccable! If one of the four parts of the harmony is off, even a little, the rest of the group suffers because of it. It is a constant challenge to maintain all of the aspects of the performance in order to execute the best possible production. Without a doubt, there are mistakes made along the way but they continue their quest for perfection.
As I was listening to and watching these incredible groups I couldn’t help but see the strong similarities between their performances and our lives. Our lives are a constant balancing act to achieve and maintain harmony. It takes a lot of effort to ensure that our Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual components of our own selves are in harmony with each other and that the pieces in the rest of our lives are also on the same sheet of music and in harmony.
We can spend a disproportionate amount of energy focusing on our careers that we may miss seeing that our family life is “flat” or, we may put too much attention into our own personal satisfaction that our careers suffer. It’s that constant push for harmony that is both challenging and very rewarding. The beautiful part is that, with practice, it is possible to achieve and when we realize harmony, the results are amazing!
Our trip to Las Vegas was a “bucket list” item for me. My uncle has attended over 20 of these competitions and my dad has been to about 5. The event is traditionally held over the 4th of July and it was nearly impossible for me to leave Detroit Lakes during that time because of my career as a police officer. Minneapolis was the selected site for the 2017 competition so we had it on our calendars for several years. When I retired from law enforcement in November, 2016, I began to focus on attending. The venue changed to Las Vegas so the task was a bit more complicated but our resolve was strong!
Dad’s health isn’t the greatest so I knew the window of opportunity to do a trip like this won’t be open forever. I’ve been blessed to have had him riding shotgun with me on road trips to Florida and Arizona this year! We are good travel partners and his positive attitude inspires me. He is living proof of how working on harmony in our lives affects ourselves and those around us! My mom was also an extremely optimistic person. She endeavored to find something good to say about most people and most situations. One of her motto’s was “I Am, I Can, I Will” and she lived it! Mom passed away in July, 2016 but her legacy of optimism lives on!
We worked hard on coordinating this trip with my dad and uncle and the parts came together for a great experience! The music struck a chord with all of us and the bonding time was priceless. After listening to Barbershop harmonies all day long, we would go back to the hotel room and crank up YouTube and listen to more music and share stories! The harmony that we created by working on all of the parts was incredible and I will never forget it!
Another cool part of musical harmony is dissonance. This occurs when the notes of a chord don’t all line up and the result is tension. In music, most of dissonance is intentional and it is (hopefully) followed by a full chord to resolve the tension. The listener can literally feel the shift once the chord is resolved! I urge each of you to carefully listen to all of the music of your lives. Pay attention to each part and adjust each one until you tackle the dissonance and attain that perfect harmony!
Peace to all of you!