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Next Generation FAQs

Got a question? We have answers! View frequently asked questions regarding song choice and contestability as well as general FAQs below.

Song Choice & Contestability

What makes a song contestable?

For an in-depth answer to this question, please visit our Contests & Judging page.

Contestable arrangements feature the following:

  • Melody has to be predominantly in the second voice (Tenor II).
  • A harmonic structure based on major tonality, using mostly diatonic and secondary dominant progressions.
  • A cappella performance of four distinct vocal parts singing similar rhythms and similar, understandable lyrics.

Contestable arrangements do not feature:

  • Harmonizations based on jazz concepts, counterpoint structures, or anything like Eric Whitacre.
  • Patriotic, religious, or explicit themes (… either lyrical, musical, visual or otherwise)
  • Any form of instrumental support or accompaniment.

How do I assess the suitability of a song for my students?

  • Tenor (Tenor I) – Viable falsetto. Unchanged voice works well here. Range B3-C5
  • Lead (Tenor II) – Sings melody well. Confident performer. Range D3-F5
  • Baritone (Bass I/Bari) – Strong harmony singer. Excellent aural skills. Range C3-E4
  • Bass (Bass II/Bass) – Good resonance. Holds pitch well. Forward placement. Range G2-C4

Beginning ensembles will find quick success with arrangements that feature simple rhythmic treatments, a mostly homophonic texture, and an accessible tessitura.

How can I adapt a TTBB arrangement for SSAA or SATB?


These arrangements can be transposed upwards anywhere from a minor third to perfect fifth. You may discover certain phrases that may need to be revoiced as the ranges for TTBB to SSAA are different.


This adaption requires switching some of the voice parts.

The entire arrangement might need to be transposed down a half-step or a full-step.

The Lead (Tenor II): This part should be given to the Sopranos and transposed up an octave.

The Tenor (Tenor I): Most of the time, this part can be kept as written and given to the Altos.

The Baritone (Bass I/Baritone): Most of the time, this part can be kept as written and given to the Tenors.

The Bass (Bass II): This part should be given to the Basses as written.

Depending on tessitura the barbershop Tenor and Baritone parts may need to be switched between the Altos and the (SATB) Tenor.

If this switch is made be aware of certain notes that my now be out of your singers’ range. Revoicing may need to occur.

It is not advisable to adapt a typical, barbershop quartet arrangement for less than four voices.

How do I prepare my students for the the BHS scoring process?

The BHS contest process is not unlike what you have experienced in your Large Group Festivals, Solo and Ensemble Festivals, Heritage/Music In The Parks Festivals or other adjudications/contests where you may involve your ensembles. Your ensemble will be placed in a schedule and you will perform for judges. Prepare your ensembles as you would for any other festival.

Diction in the barbershop style is a casual style of conversational, American English. It is not formal choral diction (ala Robert Shaw).

At the conclusion of the event the BHS does offer an opportunity for you and your students to receive time with one of the judges for a discussion of your performance and suggestions for improvement.

Here is a general, comparative rating scale. (It is a rough comparison and not meant to be exact.)

General FAQs

Can I use a video and score from a BHS Fall District contest for my entry?

Yes! If the contest performance is recorded and judged while registration is open, August 1-December 1, the video and score can be submitted as your entry for the contest.

Do I have to record my quartet’s entry video at a BHS event?

Entry videos may be recorded at any performance with an audience. It does not need to take place at an official BHS event. Of course, BHS audiences are always welcoming and enthusiastic, and that energy can add to your enjoyment and success. BHS events also provide opportunity for coaching, the chance to see other great performers, and the fun of casual singing after hours.

Other great places to perform and record:

  • At a school contest or concert
  • At state Solo & Ensemble contest
  • In your choir room for the chorus

What songs should we sing?

You may sing music already approved for your State Solo & Ensemble Contest that fit the contestability requirements outlined above (see FAQ "What makes a song contestable?"), or songs your chorus has prepared for the Next Generation Chorus Festival.

You can also check out our Suggested Song List for more ideas.

Why are events split by age?

In part, we are responding to concerns that younger voices cannot fairly compete with older singers. There are also differing performance levels for these age groups that can be discouraging under a single contest format. In the Junior division, quartets are competing with their peers and within a modified scoring system that is comparable to their experiences in Solo and Ensemble or other scholastic competitions. The transition to Varsity introduces the BHS scoring system and contest culture, creating a bridge to the Open contest.

Offering Junior activities at Midwinter Convention and Varsity activities at the summer International Convention keeps each event focused on peer age groups, and allows for expanding the total number of participants for each.

What do U18 and U25 mean?

Patterned after typical age range designations for youth sports, we are using U18 to mean 18 and Under. U25 designates 25 and Under. Both refer to participant age at the time of the contest.

Why is there is some age overlap between U18 and 18-25?

The age ranges intentionally overlap at age 18 to accommodate the transition between divisions. Graduating seniors competing with their school groups and college-aged singers wishing to continue on with an older quartet can each participate in the division that fits their quartet. Quartets with any member 19 or older must compete in the Varsity division.

Example age combinations

  • 18-16-16-15 Junior or Varsity (parent/guardian must accompany minor to Varsity event )
  • 19-17-17-15 Varsity (parent/guardian must accompany minor to Varsity event )
  • 18-18-18-18 Junior or Varsity – or both (depending on age on event date)
  • 25-23-23-14 Varsity (parent/guardian must accompany minor to Varsity event )
  • 25-25-25-26 Not eligible for NGB events – eligible for open contest

Why are the youth programs changing again?

Next Generation Barbershop is a comprehensive program that provides a multi-staged and age appropriate experience, consistent expectations for performers, and a clear pathway from youth to adult opportunities. Aligning activities by age group at separate events helps achieve that, and solves a number of logistical and administrative issues as well.

With the introduction of Next Generation Barbershop, we expect these newly aligned activities to lock in and reduce growing pains in the coming years. There may be minor adjustments, particularly for the new events after the initial year, but we expect the basic program structure, registration process, and timelines to stay consistent for the next several years.

Our goal is to make Next Generation Barbershop sustainable, scalable, and explainable.

Why is the entry deadline for the Varsity Quartet Contest so much earlier?

Through the years, waiting to find out who advances to the finals has been unwieldy, with invitations issued as late as June. This placed a greater financial burden on quartets for travel, and made it harder to prepare, obtain coaching, etc.

With an earlier entry deadline of December 1, there is much greater opportunity to fully prepare for the finals in July. Quartets are encouraged to attend Spring District Conventions to be judged for evaluation and receive additional feedback and coaching en route to the big show — and to build their fan/support bases as well.

Why has the pricing changed for the Junior Chorus Invitational?

The program’s growth has reached a point where both the number of choruses applying (sometimes with a waiting list!) and the size of the choruses is stretching even the deep resources already in play.

A strong, sustainable model for the Junior Chorus Invitational includes:

  • expanding the reach of the program to more schools, especially among communities outside the traditional scope of barbershop activity
  • investing in more first-time start-ups
    nurturing programs in their fragile early years
  • Financial needs can vary quite a bit among our many participating groups, so a single fixed subsidy model doesn’t fully serve our goals for access and inclusion