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Varsity Quartets

Step up to your biggest stage ever

...and launch a lifetime of singing!

Thousands of fans will greet the finalists at the International Convention, in a showcase of the best singers aged 18-26. Spend a week singing with hundreds of passionate Barbershoppers, and take your place in an honors chorus -- a peak experience that is a convention highlight for our singers.

Upcoming Events & Deadlines


We know how hard singers work to qualify for NGB events, and the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 International Conventions will bring questions on how we will handle the age limit. Below are updates for the 2022 and 2023 International Events:

  • We temporarily increased the maximum age to 27 for the 2022 Varsity Quartet Contest and Chorus Invitational.
  • The maximum age will be 26 for the 2023 event.
  • The maximum age will return to the program’s previous age limit of 25 in 2024 and for subsequent events.

Easy video qualification

  • Sing two contestable songs in front of any audience, upload to YouTube, and your entry is complete
  • The program is open to women’s, men’s, and mixed harmony ensembles
  • All quartets will need to qualify, regardless of previous qualification for prior events
  • Video qualification will be open from August 1- December 1, 2022
  • The 20 highest scoring quartets will be invited to compete

Scholarships for performers advancing to finals -- including Honors Chorus guests!

Getting there is all the fun... and expensive. The Barbershop Harmony Society offers scholarship assistance to singers who participate in the Honors Chorus and quartets competing in the Finals. (See complete rules below for eligibility.)

Watch the instructional video to learn more about qualifying for the Varsity Quartet Contest, and read the complete entry and qualification requirements below.

Rules & Eligibility


  • The Varsity contest is open to all singers ages 26 and under at the time of the International Event.
    • A Quartet may have up to 3 members under the age of 18, 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.
  • A quartet who is eligible to participate in both Varsity and Junior quartet contests may only register for one contest occurring within the same year.
  • A quartet that has qualified and is eligible to participate in both the open BHS International Quartet Contest and the finals of the Varsity quartet contest may compete in only one of those contests in the same year.
  • An individual may compete in both the open BHS International Quartet Contest and the finals of the Varsity quartet contest in the same year; however, if the individual is competing in two or more quartets, each of those quartets must be comprised of no more than two of the same members.


  • 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) contestable 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.
  • 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
  • Video and/or scores cannot be used from prior International or Midwinter contests.

Entry & Qualification

  • Record your group singing. It doesn’t have to be a professional recording, but needs to follow the guidelines listed below or the video will be disqualified:
    • Avoid booming rooms for clear sound from the quartet.
    • Capture your quartet from head to toe and ensure your quartet is not at too great of a distance so judges can see your performance clearly.
    • Audience should be present audibly and/or visibly.
    • The recording should be of a single performance without retakes to ensure the qualifying contest is
    • No audio enhancements or production edits are allowed.
    • Be sure to keep the video stable with no zooming or movement.
    • The two songs performed must be consecutive and not from two separate performances.
  • Perform two contestable barbershop songs to qualify. Suggested song list
  • All arrangements performed by quartets must be obtained in accordance with international and USA copyright law. Further information may be found here.
  • Post your video on YouTube using a private link.
  • Register your quartet. (no emailing link)
    • 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.
  • Video must be recorded and uploaded between January 1 and November 30, 20XX
    • Video and/or scores cannot be used from prior International or Midwinter contests.
  • All quartets are required to participate in a pre-event and post-event survey.
  • 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 at our International convention.


  • All Varsity quartets, qualifiers and non-qualifiers, will be eligible for a free International Convention registration and scholarship assistance based on distance from convention city, # of BHS members, # of times to competition, current student, etc.
    • Any singer competing in the International Quartet Contest is ineligible for any level of Varsity scholarship assistance including a free International Convention Registration.
    • International convention registrations purchased by the quartet will not be reimbursed by the Barbershop Harmony Society should they receive a scholarship award.
  • Scholarship recipients will be required to participate in the Varsity Honors Chorus and complete a post-event survey.
    • 80% of the scholarship award will be given onsite at the International Convention.
    • Final 20% will be awarded after receiving a completed post-event survey.


Contact for more information.