Three of my best friends and I are in Fort Worth this weekend.

In fact, if you read this column about 7:30 p.m. Friday night, let your imagination take you away to an auditorium on the campus of the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Cow Town.

Hopefully, you’ll see a group of guys dressed in black on the stage about to sing their two selections at the 2017 Southwestern District Spring Contest.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this group is my quartet, the HMMM Acapella Quartet. We sing barbershop and are proud of it.

You may ask, “Why did you name your quartet HMMM?

The bass in our quartet is Gary Holmes from Temple. The lead in our quartet is Gary Morton also from Temple. The tenor is Jim Maxwell from Waco. I sing baritone in the group and my name is Bob Massey from Harker Heights.

So give me an H!...H. Give me an M!...M. Give me another M!...M. Give me one final M!...M. What’s it spell? HMMM.

We’ve had a few folks say, “Hey, pretty clever!” We thought so and it’s grown on us.

It’s almost time! We are number 10 in line. The two songs we will sing are “Up a Lazy River!” and “I Dream of Jeannie.”

What’s it like to sing in a barbershop quartet competition, you ask?

It’s great fun and terrifying at the same time! All the champs tell us, “Just get out there and have a good time and you’ll do fine.” Yep, they can say that because they’ve got five gold medals hanging around their necks because they’ve all been winners at the international level of barbershop competition.

My group of guys has been together for about three years and our main goal is to get through the songs, sing the right notes and say the right words and SMILE while we’re doing it.

Singing in barbershop quartet competition is like playing golf. I gave up golf because I hated all the things you had to remember at one time.

Barbershop singing is similar, but I love to sing and I’m not quitting because I’m praying for the day when we improve our score and come out on top. We’ve got what it takes, it’s just remembering it all. We’re a senior quartet, so I guess we could use that as an excuse. Nah! I think not!

Here’s how you make a good score in barbershop competition.

(1) Start the song together, (2) Sing the right notes, (3) Breathe in the right places, (4) Don’t run out of air at the end of a phrase, (5) Sound like one person not four, (6) Match the way you pronounce words (7) Look at each other every once in a while during your songs to make sure you’re all standing, (8) Don’t be a statue ... move, (9) Sell the song with your body and your face, (10) Energize each phrase, (11) Listen to each other, (12) Remember, the stage belongs to you, (13) Don’t rush, (14) relax and (15) last but not least, SMILE!

We are among four of the most blessed guys because of the coaching we’re received this year from one the best in the world, Eddie Martinez. He’s worked with us four times and brought us from a timid group to an energized, vocally improved confident quartet.

Now, we’re just remembering all the great things he taught us.

This one’s for you, Eddie. Thanks!

Bob Massey is a Herald correspondent

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