For nearly 80 years, the Barbershop Harmony Society has served thousands of quartets, but what you might not know is that they support over 600 a cappella choral ensembles ranging in size from 12 singers to 150 singers in large and small communities across North America. The MountainTown Singers (MTS ) is one of those over 600 ensembles.
What is quite apparent when you see the MountainTown Singers perform is the diverse range of ages in the group.
MTS considers itself an “Intergenerational” organization. There is a wealth of benefits to intergenerational singing that you might not be aware of. Research shows children need four to six involved, caring adults in their lives to fully develop emotionally and socially. The problem today is that children often get too much peer socialization, too much mediated contact through computers and texting, and not enough one-on-one, personal time with mature adults. Likewise, active, involved older adults with close intergenerational connections consistently report much less depression, better physical health, and higher degrees of life satisfaction. Young and old can fulfill the role of student and teacher for each other and it’s not always the older person who does the teaching.
Speaking of old and young and everyone in between, let’s take a moment to explore the ages of MTS, founded in 2005 by a bunch of guys in their 40s and 50s and opened to guys of college age. The make-up of the group in April of 2017 can be viewed in the illustration.
In an ensemble that spans four generations, repertoire selection can be very challenging. The musical leadership strives to select music that everyone has a connection to, and then balance this with what the group ENJOYs singing. They have found that every age CAN connect with songs from all eras…but it certainly makes it an easier sell to the audience if the song is familiar.
The MountainTown Singers believe that meaningful intergenerational interaction improves the lives of young and old alike. The transformational impact of singing, not only on singers, but on the community as a whole is a powerful message. Very few choirs succeed at bringing together singers of different age ranges, much less across several entire generations. Imagine what can happen in the choral world and our own communities when boys, seniors and everyone in between join together in song.