When and why did the KVU form? October 2006 by 6 men at Aaron Dale’s home in Elizabethtown. They wanted to form a group that would allow talented men with very busy schedules to sing – many who had not been singing for a long time because of time constraints.
Who were the first members? Paul Maglinger, Dan Delaney and Michael O’Brien from Louisville, Aaron Dale from Elizabethtown, Greg Hollander, Erick Hollander, Lindle Pogue, and Josh Givens all from Bowling Green / Mammoth Cave area.
When did the chapter charter with the Barbershop Harmony Society? March 2007
What is the purpose of the KVU? The Kentucky Vocal Union strives to:
Produce the highest quality of vocal music entertainment
Provide opportunities for members to perform at the highest possible level
Create a fun and educational rehearsal atmosphere where each member can enjoy himself and improve as a performer
Maintain a continuously fresh and diverse repertoire of vocal music from various styles and genres
We hope to make the KVU a place where members can enjoy the comraderie of singing while pushing the limits of their abilities.
About the Men
How many men are members of the KVU? Currently there are about 36 men registered as members of the chapter.
How many men attend rehearsals on a regular basis? Usually around 25 - 30 men at each rehearsal.
How many men attend performances or contests? Usually we have 25 - 35 men at each regular show. Contests have always had 29 to 39 men.
Are there any men with music degrees in the KVU? Yes. Our director, Aaron Dale, is a music educator.
Are there students in the group? Yes. Several college students, and sometimes a high school student or two.
Do students have to have their own transportation? Everyone must find transportation to rehearsals (there is no magical KVU bus!), however the members are very helpful and are always willing to pick up someone who needs a ride. This can be coordinated during rehearsal, by phone or email.
Are there any international chorus medalists or champs in the KVU? Yes. The KVU received a 3rd Place medal in 2012. We've also had men sing with the KVU who won chorus medals and championships with other groups.
Are there any district quartet medalists or champs in the KVU? There are several district quartet medalists and champs in the KVU.
Where do members of the KVU work? KVU members are employed as fast-food workers, retail, doctors, attorneys, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, and government workers.....to name a few.
When and how often do you rehearse? Unlike other groups, the KVU typically rehearses only a couple of times a month. This schedule seems to allow those with busy schedules, families, and other commitments to still enjoy singing in their lives. High member expectations and a lighter schedule tend to attract people from all over Kentucky and surrounding states. Prior to larger performances and competitions, the group rehearses every week for a designated period of time. The chorus will often take a hiatus near the end of the year to give the members a break at the holidays. See the Schedule and Rehearsal Location pages for more info.
Do you do retreats and how often? The chorus holds a few Friday/Saturday retreats throughout the year.
Do you utilize warm-ups? Rehearsals are pretty similar to those of other a cappella groups and men's choirs. The KVU utilizes vocal warm-ups to help each singer prepare for the rehearsal and to hear the ensemble sound.
Do you sing on risers or stand on the floor? The ensemble often rehearses as many a cappella ensemble - standing around in a circle, sitting in chairs, or standing on risers. For contests and large shows, we typically utilize risers.
Do you use sectionals or other small group activities? Each rehearsal the chorus works on current repertoire, practices choreography and visual performance, and enjoys fun small group activities. Often this includes random quartets, small group competitions, and solo opportunities. Rehearsals are structured and organized to ensure we get the most of our time together. We often rehearse in sections to solidify notes and clarify unique musical moments part to part.
Who is in charge and ensures rehearsals run smoothly? The director and associate/assistant directors run the rehearsal, and the Chorus manager runs the overall chapter meeting.
Do members take rehearsals serious? We expect all members to take the KVU serious. Members must be prepared with all required music and choreography memorized - lack of preparation is not an option. The leadership works to ensure each member's experience is enjoyable and worth their time - something they won't forget (and won't ever want to miss)!
How does the chorus treat the musical and administrative leadership? We demand that members respect the director, assistant directors, section leaders, visual team, and board members when they are addressing the chorus. This is vital to running successful rehearsals and performances.
What is the policy for members talking or interjecting during a rehearsal? We try to have fun, and still be serious. This means members are expected to control themselves and be respectful. To be most productive, members are asked to generally be silent and not interrupt until specific times to speak
Are all members encouraged to share their opinions? Yes. Members should feel free to offer suggestions or ideas to the director or leadership. However, members are generally asked to save their suggestions for a break or after rehearsal, as to not interrupt the flow of the director's plans.
How are conflicts and rehearsal discipline handled? The members are expected to be mature and respectful during rehearsal. If a person becomes an issue from interrupting rehearsal, one of the assistant directors will handle the situation.
How often do I need to attend in order to perform with the KVU? We obviously want every man to attend every event, as we have the most fun and make the greatest improvement when members are consistently rehearsing. That is the ultimate goal and expectation. We expect members to come to rehearsal, and we require members to know the music to be performed through a qualification process. This shows they know the music for the show. For District, International, or other contest preparation, strict attendance requirements are set in place for those desiring to compete.
Am I rewarded for attending more often? Obviously you become more prepared from attending rehearsals. However, the chapter tries to provide financial assistance to special performances/contests when possible. Sometimes the chapter uses a reward system: the higher your percentage of attendance, the greater amount of financial assistance you would receive (when available).
Are there consequences for missing rehearsal? Usually, a missed rehearsal does not affect a members ability to join for a show - with the exception of rehearsals during a contest cycle. During Contest rehearsals, there are strict requirements for attendance and preparation as to make the best of our time. During a contest cycle, absences are usually not allowed, except for a funeral. Sometimes exceptions are made for those who have emergencies during contest rehearsals - allowing men to show they are prepared in different ways, such as:
1) Make-up what was missed. This can be done many ways, including: watching video, or listening to audio from the missed rehearsal; talking with their section leader to get caught up; working with other KVU members on another night.
2) Demonstrate they are caught up. This can be done by creating an audio or video recording of what was missed at rehearsal (changes, run throughs of a song, etc)
If I miss rehearsals, is there a chance to make it up? Extra rehearsals are rarely planned. The only way to make up a rehearsal is on your own (see the question above).
Are there any “mandatory” or “deal breaker” rehearsals/performances? Often, for contest preparation (and some show prep), the chorus will plan mandatory retreats and/or dress rehearsals. These are planned far in advance to allow everyone ample opportunity to plan to be there.
What happens if I’m running late to rehearsal? Come to rehearsal anyway! Wait patiently for a break in rehearsal, then jump on up! If you're consistently late to rehearsal, it will eventually affect your preparation.
If I have to leave early from a rehearsal, what do I do? Leave quietly. Be sure to get caught up on anything you missed prior to the next rehearsal. If you consistently leave early, it will eventually affect your preparation. But for regular rehearsals there is no attendance requirement, so we understand when you have schedule conflicts. Contest requirements are much different and exceptions are not normally allowed.
If I leave early or arrive late, will that affect my attendance status? Any missed rehearsal time has the potential to make you less prepared - no matter the reason. However, it will only affect your status if it becomes a re-occuring problem that was not discussed previously, and if you are demonstrating lack of preparation and are behind.
Are retreats mandatory? With our light rehearsal schedule, we want everyone to attend everything, all the time. However, some retreats and rehearsals are mandatory. Certain contest retreats are required by all members. These are announced far in advance, as to allow time to prepare and arrange schedules.
What happens if I only make half of a rehearsal or retreat? How does that affect my attendance status? Preparation is vital. If you miss half a rehearsal or retreat, you are missing alot of work and it does affect your preparation. If it happens consistently, your preparation will be reviewed by the music team whether or not you are ready to perform.
Why do you practice so long on retreat days/weekends? We make huge strides when the full group is together for long periods of time. Retreats allow for repeated work on music that can be reinforced over and over again.
Repertoire and Learning Music
How do you select music? The director selects music along with help from the music team and suggestions from members. The KVU repertoire includes new and original a cappella arrangements from a wide range of musical styles, including pop, rock, and country hits, swing and big band tunes, doo-wop and oldies, and barbershop standards.Throughout the year, the KVU musical leadership strives to maintain a well-rounded repertoire that is both entertaining for audiences and enjoyable for the membership. The KVU is constantly learning new and challenging songs to perform anywhere at any time.
Who creates your arrangements? Our arrangements come from a variety of sources, with a majority of our arrangements being created by Aaron Dale. Most KVU repertoire was arranged for, and made popular by other top A Cappella and barbershop groups.
Do you ever learn music with instrumental accompaniment? Not yet.
How do you learn music? We utilize part predominant learning tracks that can be downloaded or burnt to a CD. We also provide members with sheet music to read as needed when learning their part.
Do I have to purchase my own music? No. The chapter pays for this. Where do I get music from the chorus? All sheet music and learning tracks are available for download on this website by Log in to the Members Area. See Kris Dunn for access to this area.
How often do you perform throughout the year? The chorus performs whenever possible.
Do you perform other shows, local gigs, or for parties, etc? The KVU performs local gigs as members are available. The chorus will also appear as occasional guest performers on other barbershop chapter shows.
What competitions do you attend? The KVU attends district and international conventions and competitions held by the Barbershop Harmony Society. The group is eager to participate in other vocal contests as opportunities arise.
Is there a visual audition? Yes. See the section about the audition.
Do I have to have dance experience or be able to dance well? No. However, you must have a generally good sense of rhythm and balance. You also must be willing to learn and do what is asked visually - which often includes some intricate choreography. The visual team works to help each member become the best possible visual performer, and there is a visual portion to the audition.
Are your front row members professional dancers? No. Except for James Pennington who once danced simultaneously for Chippendales and the Rockettes.
Do you have a visual “team” that works with the members and coaches to teach the KVU? Yes. The visual team is comprised of Aaron Dale, David McEachern, and Dan Delaney.
Who creates your choreography? In most recent years, the visual plan and choreography has been created by David McEachern along with Aaron Dale and the in-house visual team. From 2010-2012 Shannon Mitchell worked with the chorus and choreographed several songs. Prior to that, the KVU worked with Theresa Weatherbee for several years.
Who teaches your visual plan? The visual team works with the choreographer and other performance coaches to create, teach, and refine the visual performance for various songs in the repertoire. Coaches will often work solely on visual elements for several hours during retreats, while visual team members will often address and teach the chorus for shorter periods of time during regular rehearsals. They are treated as directors for the group.
What does the chorus wear for performance? The KVU typically wears a suit, dress shirt, tie, and black shoes (sometimes tux shoes) as a "Class A" uniform. The Class A uniform changes periodically based on the type of show or songs we are performing - especially around contest time.
Do I have to purchase a uniform in order to sing with the KVU? Yes. But it is not required immediately. This is only necessary when it comes time to perform with the ensemble.
Is there any way of getting financial assistance to purchase the uniform(s)? If money is an issue, discuss it with the president to see if any financial assistance is available. Sometimes members donate funds to help others in need.
Do I wear a uniform to rehearsals? At times we have asked members to wear a KVU T-shirt to rehearsals, however it is not currently a requirement. For specific rehearsals we will ask men to wear the t-shirt or other uniform items (jackets, tux shoes, etc)
Do I have to wear make-up? Not often! We only wear stage make-up at big performances where it would be beneficial.
KVU Success and Achievements
What is the highest the KVU has placed at international competition? 3rd Place in Portland in 2012. Prior to that, they placed 6th in Kansas City 2011, 13th in Anaheim 2009, 10th in Nashville 2008, and 6th in Las Vegas 2014
What are the lowest and highest scores the KVU has received? Overall highest score was an 92.2 in Las Vegas. Overall lowest score was 79.7 at the fall 2007 Cardinal District Contest.
How many times hast the KVU qualified for BHS international competition? 5 times - 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
Has the KVU performed for any very prestigious or nationally acclaimed event In September 2011 members of the KVU performed in a combined mens chorus to honor Medal of Honor recipients in Louisville, Kentucky.
Do you teach members to sing, or do I have to know how to sing before joining? Potential members should be able to sing while staying in key, have a clear tone, and sing harmony while staying on your part to join the KVU. We teach people who like to sing to sing better.
Do you teach men to read music? During regular rehearsals, we currently do not teach basic music reading skills. Members pick up alot from looking at music and helping each other.
What are the basic vocal skills you teach the members? Relaxed tension-free singing; Using the breath to support vocal tone; Mixing the use of the head-tone and chest voice; accuracy of pitch, vowel targets, and placement; Connected singing through diphthongs and other word sounds; tuning.
How does KVU vocal techniques compare with those of the classical or pop world? Very similar. The primary difference centers around hard word sounds and some vowel targets that we sing more "conversationally".
Coaching and Extra Performance Instruction
Why do you bring in coaches to teach the chorus? Outside coaches/instructors provide help in their areas of expertise. Coaches help develop songs, teach technique, and refine singing skills.
Why do you call them “coaches”? They work with us like a coach does a team. They are there to teach and motivate the chorus.
Who are your coaches? See the About/Coaches page for a list of our coaches.
What does it cost per year to sing with the chorus? The primary expense as a member includes: Chapter dues (see below) Barbershop Harmony Society dues (@ $135/year - but the price is set by the BHS and the KVU has no control over it) Uniform purchase (varies year to year) Your travel, food, and lodging for various events (varies depending on shows/contests we attend)
How do I pay BHS dues? The chapter treasurer/secretary can tell you the process. However, it can be done online or mailed in.
Are there separate or inclusive chorus/chapter dues? AS of January 2017 chapter dues are $120 per year.
Is there a student discount? Students can get a discount for the BHS dues. The KVU secretary can help with this.
Can I pay per month? After the first year, BHS dues can be paid monthly.
Can I pay online or by Credit Card? Yes. BHS and any KVU dues can all be paid online by credit card. Speak with the KVU secretary or treasurer to learn how.
Chorus and Chapter Leadership
How does the chapter board operate? The board meets regularaly (typically once a month) to make decisions for the chorus/chapter.
How does the musical leadership operate? The music/performance team is led by the director. They meet before or after rehearsals, and communicate online through email and audio/video chats (skype, etc).
Can I get involved with the musical leadership? Yes. However, the musical leadership is primarily chosen by the director.
Can I get involved with the administrative leadership (board) of the chapter? Yes. Elections are held annually.
Website and Email
Who edits the KVU website? Kris Dunn is the webmaster.
How is the email list managed? Dan Delaney manages the KVU email list. Email addresses are sent to him to be added.
A Cappella Harmony
Is it difficult to sing without instruments? Not really. The primary difficulty comes with staying on your part while other men sing different parts. Why don't you use piano or other accompaniment? There are many vocal ensembles in the world that use accompaniment of some sort, but the KVU chose to be an acappella group - primarily because the initial founding members have a love for it.