Canberra Chordsmen are always on the hunt for good singers to join us. Even if you have no experience or formal training, if you have the aptitude and the passion, we want you to sing with us!

Through Barbershop Harmony Australia and our own club you wil receive expert vocal coaching and you will soon learn much about the wide world of singing and the incredibly intricate artform of Barbershop Harmony which is both very challenging but even more rewarding when done well.

What is barbershop harmony?

Barbershop harmony is an exciting style of 4-part a capella singing. The 4 parts are:

  • Lead: Sings the melody;
  • Tenor: A harmony part sung consistently above the lead;
  • Bass: Sings the lowest part and provides the foundation of the music; and
  • Baritone: Completes the chord by harmonising above or below the lead.

When all 4-parts in a quartet or chorus are in perfect balance, a “ringing” or overtone sound is produced. This “ring” is a joy to the singers and audience alike. Barbershop music is also about presentation and often props and choreography are used to enhance the music's message and entertainment.

Why sing barbershop harmony?

Barbershop harmony is a unique and challenging hobby, but one that is also extremely fun and rewarding. It is built around a chord structure that is emotionally satisfying to both the listener and performer. It allows you to express yourself through choreography and artistic interpretation of music. It involves a level of energy and physical engagement not usually found in other choral forms. Barbershop encourages you to engage with and entertain your audience, to enrich the lives of yourself and others. And anyone can do it! You don’t need to be able to read music or have sung previously. Anyone of average singing ability will find a part that fits their vocal range. When you gather ordinary voices into a chorus or quartet, the result becomes greater that the sum of the parts.

By joining, you will become part of a national and international community. There are approx 1000 male barbershop singers in Australia and over 35000 members worldwide, with networks and resources to support every endeavour. You’ll have fun and make lifelong friends. You will also receive high level vocal coaching which you will benefit from in any style of singing you wish to undertake.

Club Membership

When you first arrive, our MD will assess your voice and determine which of the four parts will best suit you. The assessment takes only a few minutes while you sing some notes for us to assess your vocal range.

  • A low resonant voice would usually indicate the BASS part for you;
  • A mid to high range would suggest the LEAD or melody part;
  • If you read music or have a natural ear for it you may be assessed as a BARITONE or TENOR.

We have a tradition to teach you a short piece of music called a "tag" so that you can quickly experience a taste of harmonising. The Canberra Chordsmen do have an audition process that takes place on your fourth rehearsal. This is to test if you are grasping the basics and have the dedication required to sing with us. Our membership coordinator and anyone you speak to will be at your disposal to help you with whatever you need to have the best audition attempt possible. We hope to see you at our rehearsal to get the ball rolling. See our visit a rehearsal page for rehearsal details.

What fees and when are they due?

The Barbershop Harmony Club of Canberra Inc. is a non-profit incorporated association that facilities the Canberra Chordsmen and is affiliated with Barbershop Harmony Australia.

There are three fees you need to be aware of as they are payable at different times.

The fees are;
  1. Barbershop Harmony Club of Canberra (BHCC) Membership - $50 per year, charged 31 December.
  2. Barbershop Harmony Australia (BHA) Membership - $95 per year, charged 31 December. (one-off $47.50 joining fee applies).
  3. Canberra Chordsmen Activity Fee - $90 per quarter payable in advance, charged 31 March, 30 June, 30 September, and 31 December.

For members aged 25 years and under, all the fees above are halved.

Upon joining, the BHCC and BHA memberships are payable immediately together with the on-off BHA joining fee. The BHCC and BHA membership fees are both 50% after 1 July (but the joining fee is unchanged). The activity fee is pro-rated for the current three-month period.  A full activity fee is charged at the start of the next three-month period.

Why three different fees?

The BHCC fee is your membership in our incorporated association. This entitles you to the membership status which you have applied for, typically this is a full membership with voting rights in elections and general meetings.

The BHA fee is your membership to our guiding national organisation. This membership ensures you are covered by our insurance, copyright licences, and performance licences. It also entitles you to a variety of resources and publications as offered by BHA. More can be read here. This membership must be current in order for you to participate in any BHA contest (quartet or chorus). This fee is not administered by BHCC or its ensembles. The fee is directly passed on to the singer. BHCC manages the admin of this membership unless the singer does not want us to.

The Canberra Chordsmen activity is your contribution towards the running costs of this ensemble. This fee (in conjunction with the BHCC fee) covers the chorus expenses which include, Musical Director, hall hire, riser hire, insurance, sheet music, music copyright, website hosting, guest coaching, chorus registration fees, marketing, and promotional materials, name badges, learning tacks, and administrative expenses.

We separate the fees to allow singers flexibility when taking leave from the ensemble. When taking extended breaks from the Canberra Chordsmen, you only need to pay the BHCC and BHA fee. You can resume activity with the Canberra Chordsmen any time and will pay the activity on the point of return.