As I walk through my local grocery store, I’m reminded that St. Patrick’s Day is soon approaching. And one of the iconic images of our celebration of this unique holiday is the shamrock, or three leaf clover.
There are many stories told of Patrick, and of his importance to the Irish people. But one of the greatest is how he used the shamrock to explain the Christian tenent of the Trinity. And in like fashion, I’d like to use the shamrock as a vehicle to explain why I love barbershop singing.
In my story, the first leaf is “Joy.” There is no greater feeling than when I’m singing. And while science will discuss why I have this feeling, I’m content to know that singing simply makes me feel good.
My second leaf is “Friendship.” My barbershop brothers are quickly becoming some of my closest friends. I may not agree with them on politics, religion, or a myriad of other topics, but the bond we share as singers seems to cover over those other areas. The men I work with week in and week out have my back. They have helped me professionally, emotionally, and financially.
I’m sure that many, if not most, barbershoppers would heartily agree with my first two points. However, my third point might not be as “obvious.” My third point is “Accessibility.” Barbershop is full of many highly creative people. And these people are extremely open and willing to help other barbershoppers. In the music world that was my career for almost 30 years, this is not the case. This willingness to advance the craft over self importance can be summed up in the following story.Theo Hicks was a member of a quartet chasing the international championship, but still willing to coach a “rival” quartet, who finished first that year. Amazing! Can you imagine Tom Brady coaching another quarterback in the weeks before both teams play in the Super Bowl? Me neither. And yet my own experience in barbershop mirrors that of the quartet that benefited from Theo’s generous spirit.
Like fields of clover, there are literally as many reasons to be a barbershopper as there are barbershoppers. There is no right or wrong answer. But whatever your reason, or reasons, they cannot spread unless we become like Patrick of Ireland, and become ambassadors of the greatest hobby in the world. Remember, our anthem calls for us to “keep the whole world singing.”