Thanks for your interest in joining the Fog City Singers! This page describes our audition process and the overall commitment expected of our singers. These policies stem from three years of learnings; they aim to create a fair, streamlined, and fulfilling experience for our singers and leaders alike.


Successful auditionees are typically strong singers with extensive ensemble and/or stage experience, who can (1) learn music and apply musical instruction quickly, (2) perform with emotional intent, and (3) have fun and stay humble in the process.


Successful auditionees tend to have a “spike” in at least one vocal discipline, whether choral, barbershop, pop, jazz, theater, opera, or something else. A collection of masters at diverse crafts creates a richer experience for all of us. Thus, we want classical choristers just as much as we want barbershop posters, jazz crooners, bass woofers, and tenor riffers!


We memorize all of our music, and we provide learning tracks to help our singers accomplish that outside of rehearsal. You can get by without reading music well if you practice enough at home (practicing at home will be necessary even for strong music readers), but basic facility with rhythm, phrasing, and general musicianship will be crucial for understanding musical instruction and applying it quickly in rehearsal.


Our 2019 calendar will be organized into three 14-week sets, each culminating in at least one local performance and encompassing at most one barbershop-contest weekend:

  • Spring Set. January - April. Auditions in early December.

  • Summer Set. April - August. Auditions in mid April.

  • Fall Set. August - November. Auditions in mid August.


Sets are designed to be manageable, well-scoped commitments. Each singer can gauge his availability for an upcoming set and opt in or out as needed—before the set begins. A set is an atomic chunk: committing to a set means participating from Day One through the end of the set. If you think work travel may increase during the set or that you might otherwise have a hard time attending, sit out until the following set rather than risk dropping out.


Each set is primarily geared toward our end-of-set concerts, which typically draw 300-600 patrons over ~2 performances. Our concerts in 2019 will generally feature 8-9 Fog City songs, a few quartet numbers, and occasional appearances from guest groups.


We rehearse Monday nights from 7pm - 10pm in San Francisco, with at least one longer Saturday session per set for a coaching session with a notable figure from the barbershop or classical world. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early for each session: this will create an exciting buzz in the room, give you a chance to chat with your peers, and ensure we start promptly.

Our rehearsals typically take place at either the Kanbar Center (44 Page St, San Francisco) or the First Unitarian Universalist Society (1187 Franklin St, San Francisco), which are within a 10-minute walk of each other.


We don’t specify an absolute attendance minimum for rehearsals. That said, if you’ll miss more than one rehearsal per month (3-4 rehearsals out of the 14-week set), best practice is to skip the set, because it’ll be difficult to be a net contributor: you risk missing musical instructions, affecting sectional unity upon your return, reducing rehearsal energy during your absence, and so forth. Absences should be submitted at the beginning of the set.

Barbershop conventions

FCS attends at most one local, regional, or international barbershop contest per set. We do this for three reasons: * (1) to create (and become more adept at creating) inspiring musical experiences, (2) to get feedback from well-calibrated adjudicators on how we’re trending as an ensemble, and (3) to have fun with each other and other barbershoppers in a celebratory environment.

* Barbershop “contests” are really more like festivals, with groups from around the country and around the world sharing moving experiences with one another. The experience is collaborative rather than competitive: we deliver some of our most passionate, honest performances at these events; and we come together as a group as well.


If you don’t pass your audition, you can re-audition as many times as you’d like - we’ll even recommend voice teachers to help you work on your craft in the interim. As of this writing, if you do make it in, then you can opt into or out of following sets as you please. However, if you opt out of three sets in a row, we’ll re-audition you to touch base and recalibrate.


So that’s how we do things; hope that’s motivating for you! Now let’s delve into the audition.


Auditions happen in the weeks between sets. Email before that to indicate your intent to audition. We’ll coordinate with you to schedule an exact date and time for your audition.


Your audition will take place outside of rehearsal in front of a small group of chorus leaders. No other candidates will be present. The experience is relaxed, informal, and collaborative: we want you to do well! Further, you are not competing against anyone else when you audition—if every auditionee meets our bar, we’ll accept the whole lot!


Your audition will last ~20 minutes and consist of the following facets:

I. Exercises. We'll first guide you through some scales and other exercises to get a sense of your vocal and musical ability. No preparation is needed for this facet.

II. Solo. Perform a 45-second solo from a song and style that best demonstrates your voice and personality as a performer—an aria, a pop song, a jazz standard, a barbershop melody, and so forth. We'll have you sing this for us a cappella (without accompaniment). Aim to really perform it!

III. Quartet. Perform I’d Love to Live in Loveland, memorized, in a quartet with three of our music leaders filling out the other parts. This facet will let you show off  your ensemble-singing skills, memorization skills, and detail-orientedness. After the first run-through, we'll give you feedback and ask you to you sing through certain portions again as needed. Here are the learning materials; feel free to learn your preferred part:


  1. Email to schedule an audition.

  2. Prepare a 45-second solo.

  3. Memorized your preferred voice part on I’d Love to Live in Loveland.

  4. Show up for your audition!

And that’s everything! Remember that we’re rooting for you. Let us know if you have any questions!