Varsity Quartets (25 and under)


 Learn about changes to the program in the Frequently Asked Questions



  • The Varsity contest is open to male singers ages 18 – 25 at the time of the International Event.

  • A Quartet may have up to 3 members under the age of 19, as long as a parent or guardian accompanies the quartet at the convention and accepts responsibility for the minors on the Youth Participation Form.

  • There are no restrictions regarding membership in the Barbershop Harmony Society or any affiliate organization.


  • An individual can sing in only one varsity quartet at a time.
  • All arrangements performed by quartets must be obtained in accordance with international and USA copyright law.  Further information may be found here.
  • Two (2) songs in the barbershop style must be sung. A quartet may use the same songs in the preliminary video contest and the live contest at the international convention.
  • The qualification video must be recorded in HD in front of a live audience without any edits or production enhancements. The live audience may be at public or private event or performance.
  • Videos recorded at events with a live BHS certified panel of judges can submit their scores with their video and the scores will count for the video qualification.
  • Any singer competing in the varsity or open quartet contest is required to purchase a registration
  • All varsity participants will be required to stay within the BHS convention hotel block at their own expense.  Participants staying outside of the hotel block will forfeit any/all scholarship/financial assistance and be disqualified from all varsity participation.  
  • Each varsity quartet will be required to learn two (2) mass songs to be sung during the convention on Friday or Saturday

Entry & Qualification

  • Record your group singing. It doesn’t have to be a professional recording, so have fun with it.
  • Perform two contestable barbershop songs to qualify.  Suggested song list
  • Post your video on YouTube.
  • Register your quartet.  (Full registration coming soon.)
  • Quartets must have their quartet names approved, so as not to conflict with names already selected and reserved by other competitors and registered barbershop Society member quartets.
  • Certified Society judges will adjudicate all contests, both video preliminary and the live international competition, using standard Society contest rules.
  • All videos must be submitted by YouTube link within the registration form no later than December 1, 2018.
  • Video must be recorded and uploaded between August 1 – December 1, 2018.
  • All quartets are required to participate in a pre-event and post-event survey to officially register their quartet and qualify for a scholarship.
  • All video/photo/audio submitted will be owned and used without restriction by BHS.

Barbershop Style

  • Basic characteristics of barbershop harmony:
    • Four unaccompanied male voices.
    • Melody in the second voice down (lead, or second tenor). The melody lies within the good quality range for the average lead singer and is free of awkward skips that make it difficult to sing accurately.
    • Consonant four-part chords on all notes of the melody, almost completely in root position and second inversion.
    • Easily understandable lyrics that are in good taste.
  • A chief characteristic of the barbershop style is its wholesome, “G-rated” entertainment values. Forfeiture, though, may result from one or all judges for:
    • Anyone other than quartet members or the director appearing on stage during the performance.
    • Actions by any contestant that are deemed suggestive, vulgar, or otherwise not in good taste, as determined by acceptable, contemporary community standards.  The two songs in the barbershop style must not be either primarily patriotic or primarily religious in intent.  
    • Any spoken words deemed excessive or detrimental to the performance.  Participating quartet should not introduce their selections.
    • Use of contestant’s own electronic sound equipment.
    • Instrumental accompaniment, including instrumental introductions, interludes, or conclusions.

Judging Criteria

  • Videos will be judged by C&J Score (100 points per song)
    • Each video will receive scores from at least one certified judge in any scoring category
    • At least one judge will be required to write a brief, one-paragraph evaluation encouraging the competitor’s participation and improvement
  • Top 20 will be invited to compete at International based on overall combined scores
  • Non-qualifying quartets will be invited to participate in the Varsity Honors Chorus.
  • Medals will be awarded to the top 5 quartets


  • All Varsity quartet competitors are required to purchase a registration (even if participating in a varsity chorus)
  • All Varsity quartet competitors will be eligible for scholarship assistance based on distance from convention city, # of BHS members, # of times to competition, current student, etc. (assuming they are not also competing in the open quartet contest and have completed the pre-survey)
    • Quartets with 3 or more singers attending the same college/university to qualify for the international varsity quartet competition for the first- time will receive priority/additional financial support.
  • All Varsity participants will be given one complimentary ticket to the AIC Show
  • Any singer competing in the open quartet contest is ineligible for any level of varsity scholarship assistance
  • All non-qualifying quartets participating in the Varsity Honors Chorus will receive a free, full registration and an additional stipend to assist with additional expenses.  (assuming they are not also competing in the open quartet contest)