Educators do not automatically "see" or "understand" the value in Harmony University / Directors College as put on by the Barbershop Harmony Society. This is a fact that we in the Barbershop Harmony Society don't always see or acknowledge, but that we should keep on our minds constantly.
In Placerville we have been offering a Full Ride Scholarship (including transportation) for our local choral directors for about the past four or five years now. In fact, this year we were prepared to send three of our educators! Unfortunately, that won't happen because there is a choral convention or contest that conflicts with the dates.
What the Society is offering is a spectacularly good thing to do!! The idea that a national society will pay to have educators from our schools come and learn some niche kind of ideas and concepts about their art form that might help them be more successful with some of their students (both male and female) is a very good thing!
We applaud the Society for this kind of forethought and effort. It is through this kind of effort that we continue to spread the "word" about Barbershop Harmony and excite young people throughout our country about singing.
However, it does not happen overnight. The idea that educators recognize that there is value in their participating in a weeklong "school" that will "teach" them how to improve their directing skills is a bit presumptuous, to say the least! These are Very Busy people who earnestly believe that there is very little that the Barbershop Harmony Society can do to improve their ability to reach young people and teach them to love singing. This is a simple fact of life.
Our "job" in this whole arena is to understand the reality of the difficulty of all of this and continue to sell our educators on the idea that we are there to help Them do their jobs. We can Pay them money to bring their kids on our stages to give the kids a different audience to perform for. We can help with the music program already in place by attending their functions, contributing dollars to their programs, advertising in their programs, etc, etc. These are all the ideas and concepts that have been preached to us and that are the successful ideas and formulae of a YIH program for years. If you could bottle and sell the Seminar that Kirk Young presented to the audience of the college contest last year at Indianapolis, from his podium as MC, it would do more than anything else that I can think of to help spread the word across the Barbershop world. THAT was a spectacular piece of education for barbershoppers!
Getting back to the subject at hand, several years ago we sent Cindy Flaherty back for a week of Harmony University with VERY positive and enthusiastic feedback from her. However, she is the local "homeschool" choral director with little or no ties to the network of formal music educators. We have yet to have one of our local educators take us up on our offer. They almost always have had a contest, convention or other commitment that overlaps that week, and have been unable to partake of the offer.
For the first time in about ten years, All of our local educators now understand that the Gold Rush Chorus is "good" and "good" for their programs. It has literally taken that long to achieve that milestone. So now we simply must bide our time and continue making the offer each year while we continue to do all of the things that have gotten us to this level of success. The good news is that we are starting to get positive feedback on the offer; and promises that the first time they have the time available, they will take advantage of our offer.
All of this is to let you know that we in Placerville are Very aware of heartaches and the good times and that we understand that Patience and Persistence is the name of the game.
—Richard Lund, President
Placerville Gold Rush Chorus