Origin of AHSOW

Norman Rockwell's Barbershop QuartetIn a sense, AHSOW began the night Owen Cash and his friends sang on that rooftop in Tulsa. The first song ever sung was “Down Mobile”. There was no arrangement, no sheet music. The lead sang and the other three other parts harmonized by ear. And that’s the way it went. For years and years after SPEBSQSA was founded, every song was harmonized by ear. Written arrangements were not used. In fact, there was quite an uproar around the Society when the first printed arrangements and songbooks were published. Today, the existence of written arrangements is accepted without question. And singing them is what a lot of Barbershoppers choose to do, in part because they have never been introduced to the idea that they don’t NEED them.

Founded by Charlie Nichols at the 1977 SPEBSQSA International Convention, AHSOW originated from the vision of Barbershoppers who remembered that our Society began as a “woodshedding” organization. Authentic woodshedding has again caught on as a favorite activity for Barbershoppers.

The good news is that Barbershoppers have the opportunity to participate in the part of our art that got everything started — woodshedding. Authentic woodshedding is the heart of barbershop and is way cooler than just singing tags in the stairwell.

For too many years, opportunities to woodshed were unavailable to Barbershoppers except at Internationals, Mid-Winters, and Harmony University, functions that not all Barbershoppers could attend, or where they were otherwise obligated, and thus unable to indulge in woodshedding. AHSOW’s District Woodshedding program has brought quality woodshedding to the District level. This has given many, many more Barbershoppers the chance to learn to woodshed and refine their abilities to create harmonies “by ear.”