One of the nation’s leading educational opportunities is the Barbershop Harmony Society’s annual Harmony University, a week-long event in July which features multiple tracks and areas of educational focus. One of these tracks is Directors College, which offers barbershop harmony musical leaders a wide variety of skills and education, including conducting skills. We believe that Harmony, Inc. directors and musical leaders benefit immensely from attending. There is simply no better venue for in-depth, best-in-class education for directors.

Why Harmony University?

The 2016 scholarship recipients, Carolyn Prime, the frontline director of Island A Cappella (Area 1) and Maria Kolano, acting director of the Misty River Music Makers (Area 4), both reported that their experiences at Harmony University significantly impacted their abilities as musical leaders. They were able to implement changes as soon as they returned to their chapters and noted that the skills and knowledge they absorbed in one action-packed week will likely last a lifetime.

“Attending HU was a great experience—one I would recommend to anybody interested in barbershop music,” Kolano says. “I came away with knowledge that I will need months to fully integrate.”

Kolano adds that, while learning from the genre’s top experts was exhilarating, she also learned just as much from other Harmony University students. She signed up for as many classes as she could squeeze into her schedule and eagerly attended the general sessions. “There were so many incredible moments: fantastic performances from quartets, singing in the general session with hundreds of others by your side, the camaraderie of the shared hot seat in conducting class, the week-long exposure to all things barbershop—it was all a music nerd like me could ask for and more,” she says.

Prime’s experience was equally fulfilling. She says that, no matter what an attendee’s skill level, there’s a place for her at Harmony University. “The workshops are especially helpful to directors and those in leadership positions,” she notes. “However, brand new barbershop singers would find classes that would be meaningful to them as well. There are just so many class options there is truly something for everyone.”

In the course of one week at Belmont University, two notable Harmony, Inc. directors are stronger and positioned to bring new skills and musical leadership to their chapters. “Best of all,” Prime adds, “you will make lasting friendships and have lots of opportunities to have questions answered by the best in the biz!”

Who is Eligible?

The beauty of Harmony, Inc. chapters is that no two chapters are identical. While musical leadership often falls into traditional structure—director, assistant/associate director(s), music team, section leaders, etc.—we recognize that not all chapters fall into lock-step on the structure of their musical leadership. Some chapters may have a robust musical hierarchy while others—particularly smaller chapters—may have a simple structure of just one or two musical leaders.

Further, we recognize that each chapter’s musical leadership needs (and, more importantly, risks) will vary. Some chapters may need support for their front-line directors, while others have need to develop their next level of musical leadership, which could include assistant/associate directors, section leaders, etc.

Harmony, Inc. places the priority on front-line musical leadership, though Directors First funds do not exclude the next tier of musical leadership from consideration. The campaign aims to support directors and musical leaders who have never before participated in Harmony University, though prior participation would not exclude an applicant from being eligible for the scholarship in the future.

Requirements and eligibility guidelines

  • The recipient must be a member in good standing of Harmony, Inc., including being current in all international, area, and chapter dues.
  • The recipient may be female or male, and must serve as a musical leader of a chapter in good standing of Harmony, Inc.
  • Musical leadership is defined as any chapter/chorus director, assistant/associate director, music team member, section leader, choreographer, or other role that supports the musical development of the organization, though priority will be given to those who serve in the traditional “front-line director” role or equivalent.
  • Priority will be given to those who have never before participated in Harmony University, though prior participation will not render an applicant not eligible.

All applicants will be reviewed by a scholarship committee assembled by Harmony, Inc.’s VP of Education, in partnership with the selection team at Sing Canada. The finalists will be informed of their status no later than mid-April. If they cannot commit to attending the July event, their spot will go to the approved list of alternate candidates until all available scholarships are accepted.

Deadlines for Directors First Program

November 2019 – Announcement to Harmony, Inc. membership that application form is open.
January 31 2020 – Deadline for all applications. NO EXCEPTIONS. Any late applications will be included for consideration in next year’s pool of applicants.
March 1, 2020 – Selection committee will provide its finalists and alternate recommendations to International Board of Directors Executive Committee for approval.
Mid-March 2020 – Finalists alerted.
Late-March 2020 – Deadline for finalists to accept scholarship.
Late-March 2020 – If necessary, alternates offered any remaining, unaccepted scholarships.

If you have questions about the Musical Leadership Scholarship application or Harmony University, please email [email protected]