OCEAN COUNTY – There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from singing – whether it is for yourself or for an audience. Why not learn from a group with six decades of experience?
The Oceanaires are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. In recognition of that, they are providing free singing lessons every Tuesday at the New Life Church in Toms River.
Their style is uniquely American, in the form of barbershop harmony, which dates back to the late 19th century. You’ve probably seen them performing at local events. Even if you haven’t, you know what barbershop sounds like. It’s a cappella (which means without accompaniment), with four-part harmony. There’s a lead singer, a tenor, a baritone, and a bass.
While the Oceanaires sing traditional songs and 1950s and 1960s classics like “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and “Under the Boardwalk,” they also stretch their talent into other songs as well.
Despite the classics that they perform, they have members of all ages, including a few in their 20s. The Oceanaires is the Ocean County chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, which is nationwide.
The classes, called Ready, Set, Sing, provide a series of lessons. One class might focus on voice fundamentals, another on harmony. However, anyone can attend any number that they wish. Any ability level is welcome, from beginner to expert.
“If someone likes to sing and carry a tune – if they can sing Happy Birthday reasonably well – we can teach them how to sing,” says Joe Mack, of Long Beach Island, a retired advertising executive and longtime member of The Oceanaires. “It’s fun to sing. We take people at every level – from those who have only sung in the shower to people who have performed on stage. Give us six Tuesday evenings, and you’ll have all the skills you need.”
The Oceanaires is more than just about the appreciation of the arts – it’s also about sharing that appreciation with others through performances. They appear frequently at a variety of venues, including nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, fundraisers, and other community events.
“Our mission is to enrich lives through singing,” Mack said. “We try to sing songs that people know and like. Last year, we focused on Sinatra songs to celebrate his 100th birthday. This year, we are focusing on songs of Broadway.”
Meetings are Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the New Life Church, located at 700 Main Street in Toms River. To sign up for Ready, Set, Sing!, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (732) 503-8611. For further information about the group, visit www.oceanaires.com or Facebook.com/OceanairesNJ. You can also watch a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve16SQWgGyA.