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Barbershop Fan: Learn with Us!

WELCOME TO THE BARBERSHOP FAN CLUB!

As a Barbershop Fan, you are joining thousands of enthusiastic music lovers who share your passion for the joy of singing and community.

Your status offers you access to exclusive content and resources to help you get and stay connected with a uniquely American musical tradition: barbershop harmony!

We’re here to help you connect with the joy of singing and with our global community of barbershoppers. So, if you have any questions, reach out and ask: contact customerservice@barbershop.org.

We’re glad you are with us!

Get to Know Us: The Ultimate Barbershop Playlist + Our Strategic Vision and History

Start Singing: Free Music + Learn a Tag

Get to Know Us

"Must See" Barbershop

If you are new to barbershop or just want to relive some of the best performances out there, check out our Must See Barbershop playlist.

OUR STRATEGIC VISION: EVERYONE IN HARMONY

What do we mean by “Everyone in Harmony”?

The gift of harmony is too wonderful for us to keep to ourselves. It is a gift that we are not only compelled to share, but one that we now have the capability, resources and unity of purpose to share with everyone.

We need to share it with young and old, with people of every color and every strata, with city people and country people and everyone in between, because the world needs what we have.

Watch our video announcement or check out our Everyone in Harmony page to learn more.

THE ROOTS OF BARBERSHOP HARMONY

Barbershop harmony finds its roots in a rich African-American tradition. Lynn Abbott, a jazz archivist at Tulane University, was an expert on early African-American popular music and gospel quartets. He discovered overwhelming evidence that barbershop quartetting was pervasive in African-American culture in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including among many men who went on to become the pioneers of jazz.

Read our article, The African-American Roots of Barbershop Harmony and Why It Matters, and learn more on our Roots of Barbershop Harmony page.


Start Singing

FREE CHART + LEARNING TRACKS | "M-O-T-H-E-R"

FOR HIGHER VOICES // SSAA

Sheet Music: M-O-T-H-E-R (A Name that Means the World to Me)

LEARNING TRACKS

Full Mix

Tenor | Lead | Baritone | Bass

FOR LOWER VOICES // TTBB

Sheet Music: M-O-T-H-E-R (A Name that Means the World to Me)

LEARNING TRACKS

Full Mix

Tenor | Lead | Baritone | Bass

Sing along with learning tracks!

Learn More: How to Use Learning Tracks

STEP 1 | Listen to the full mix

Get the big picture and form of the song.

Follow along with the sheet music with your eyes. Don't sing, don’t hum, and be, well...silent. Make sure your eyes track along with your sheet music (even if you don't read music) and listen at the same time. Do this 3 or more times.

STEP 2 | Hear your part alone

How YOUR voice part fits into the big picture of the song.

Use one earbud in, or pan to the left or right speaker side, and follow along with the sheet music. Don't sing, don’t hum, and you guessed it, be silent. Get a really good idea for your part. Notice the tricky spots. Keep looking at the sheet music! Do this 3 or more times.

STEP 3 | Ooh singing

Learn the pitches in isolation.

Same as in step 2 (one earbud in, or pan to the left or right speaker side) and follow along with the sheet music. Except this time, very quietly sing “ooh” or hum along...just get a really good idea of the pitches of your part. Your singing should be very gentle and quiet because we want you to hear the recording louder than your “ooh” singing. Do this as many times as you think you need...possibly 4 to 6 times for most of the chart, and 10 or 12 times on tricky sections.

STEP 4 | Silent singing

Isolate and lock in the words of the song.

Listen to your part only (one earbud in, or pan to the left or right speaker side) and follow along with the sheet music. Silently mouth the words to your part. You can now focus on the words and rhythms without worrying about the pitch. Fight the urge to sing, don't exhale an airy sound, and focus on word mastery...silently mouthing along. Do this 3 or more times.

STEP 5 | Soft singing

Put the pitches and words together, but still have the track to lean on.

Sing at a quiet volume with all words and notes with your part learning track. Just be note-and-word-perfect at a very soft volume. Your vocal production will be too light for performance in this step, but it’s OK for now. Just sing quietly enough that the recording is louder than your voice. Do this 3 or more times.

STEP 6 | Quartet singing

Put the pitches and words together, but you no longer have the track to lean on.

Switch earbuds (or change the speaker sides) and sing YOUR part against the other 3 parts...yes, your part is missing and you must create the notes all by yourself! You may discover you are singing wrong notes or words during this step. If quartet singing is too difficult, you may have to first sing with the full mix (all 4 parts are clearly heard). After you are feeling confident, make yourself sing against the trio at some point... it reveals all! Do this 3 or more times.

Barbershop Voice Parts

Barbershop publishers use the familiar voicings of TTBB, SATB or SSAA on the cover. However, once you open to the sheet music, all three voicings are converted to TLBB: barbershop Tenor, Lead, Baritone and Bass.

Because barbershop is close harmony and a cappella, experiment with different keys to fit the voices in your group.

Performance Best Practices

Barbershop is a style of arranging in close, four-part, a cappella harmony; it is not an era, style of music, or genre. When performing barbershop pieces, there are four best practices to keep in mind:

  • Barbershop has unique voice-part ratios
  • Barbershop performers may freely interpret rhythm
  • Barbershop singers use "just intonation"
  • Barbershop singers perform expressively