Last year, one of the coolest bonding experiences we had as a quartet was participating in George Mason University’s Potomac Academy for the Arts program. We were brought in by the super-talented and -personable Libby Curtis, who was Anne’s voice instructor in college.
Once again, we were invited to headline “Saturday School” (as it’s known by the kids) for Northern Virginia fourth, fifth and sixth graders. And once again, it proved to be a pretty awesome experience!
We started with a few tunes and, not surprisingly, “One More Minute” was a hit with the kiddos! We moved on to a few videos about the background and history of barbershop harmony singing and some international performances. We talked about how we earned our crowns (sparked by one young participant who asked, “Did you win those crowns at the prom?”) and we explained how the four voice parts blend together to result in the iconic barbershop sound.
Then the magic happened. We got the kids up, broke them into voice parts, and started teaching tags! Please know that part of the reason this situation is so incredibly powerful is that some of these students are living the reality of difficult home situations. Program organizers have shared with us that some of them are nervous about speaking in front of their peers, let along singing (and don’t we all know how THAT feels??)! So when they stand up and start singing barbershop tags, the energy and individual growth is palpable. Beautiful young ladies who soar on the tenor part. Talented young men who carry their own part on BARITONE!!!! This is touching to Epic in so many ways (three of us are vocal instructors for kids) and it’s core to what we want to accomplish as a quartet in the years (and years and years) to come.
Teaching kids barbershop is a core Epic value. We hope to do it in as many ways as possible and as many times as possible. We’re already looking forward to serving as the female teaching quartet for the youth harmony camp at Harmony College East (truly an honor to have been asked). There are a few things in life that give you more energy than you spend, and our Potomac Academy for the Arts experience is definitely one of them!
Love our kiddos! Can’t wait to do it again next year!