MBHA Statement and FAQs Associated with the Barbershop Harmony Society January 2 Announcement Concerning Mixed Harmony Ensembles

January 3, 2019


To: MBHA Members and Prospective Members

From: Roxanne Powell, President, and the MBHA Board


Many of you who are members of the Barbershop Harmony Society have received an email dated January 2, 2019, announcing further developments in the Society’s implementation of the Everyone in Harmony Strategic Vision, particularly the ability of women to register in Society quartets, registering either as a women’s quartet or mixed harmony quartet.

The Mixed Barbershop Harmony Association has been and continues to be dedicated to encouraging and supporting mixed gender barbershop harmony singing.  We are proud to have been the leading organization to propagate this mission throughout North America, and are pleased to serve all those who wish to form mixed ensembles—quartets and choruses—to share the joys of this art form.  Accordingly, we applaud the Barbershop Harmony Society for its evolution to incorporate mixed harmony in its ranks.

Mixed harmony singing has many benefits, as those of you who are members surely know.  The ability to share close harmony with family members for fun and public performance is a delightful experience!  Membership in MBHA affords ensembles the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences, access a number of valuable resources available online to members, and—to this point—earn recognition for their achievement in a number of BHS District and Division and Harmony Incorporated Area contests as competitors.

We understand that many mixed ensembles do not intend to compete; they simply wish to learn, perform and enjoy mixed harmony in their communities.  That’s terrific!  There are a number of ensembles, however, that have competed already and would like to continue to do so, along with other groups that would like to participate in contests in the future.  And MBHA is proud of its formal agreement with organizers of the World Mixed competition (next held in Germany in Spring, 2020) to be the exclusive organization representing North America to qualify quartets and choruses for this prestigious international competition; this remains hallmark offering to MBHA members interested in competition.

The BHS announcement includes information about requirements for entry into District and Division contests which may cause our members and prospective members concern or confusion. MBHA was not involved in the development or implementation of these new policies.  Nevertheless, since being made aware of their pending announcement, representatives of your MBHA Board have been in substantive contact with BHS headquarters staff and the Society’s Contest and Judging leadership, and have prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help allay your concerns to the greatest extent possible.

These questions and answers are hardly exhaustive, but hopefully sufficient to clarify what these changes mean for you.  Your Board will continue to be vigilant in communicating with you to provide information concerning official BHS contests that will help you determine your options, and this FAQs document will be periodically updated as necessary.

If, after reading the email announcement from the BHS and the following FAQs, you have additional questions regarding the Society’s new steps and their impact on you, please feel free to contact us at and a team member will reply as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance for your continued membership in MBHA.




Does the ability to register as a woman in BHS affect my current MBHA membership in any way?

 No!  MBHA membership remains as it has been, for both individuals and ensembles (quartets and choruses), offering an extremely affordable ability to associate with an organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting mixed harmony barbershop in North America.  Individual registrations for membership remain a great value at US$20, and ensemble registration (quartets and choruses) at an additional US$20.  For example, a quartet registration for MBHA membership totals only US$100; a fair value, indeed.  Registration for BHS membership is NOT REQUIRED to join MBHA.


As an MBHA registered ensemble, may we still enjoy learning and performing mixed barbershop harmony in our community without the requirement to register with BHS?

 Absolutely!  We hope you will enjoy singing everywhere, and spreading the word about the joys of mixed harmony with your friends, family, and members of your community. And we also hope you’ll encourage others to join with you as members of MBHA.


If I am a BHS member AND a member of MBHA, is there any change in my memberships?

 No!  Many of our MBHA members are also members of BHS (and SAI and HI, too), and nothing in the changes announced by BHS affect your membership in either organization.


Our ensemble (quartet or chorus) would like to compete in a BHS District or Divisional contest.  Do we need to register (individually and as an ensemble) with BHS in order to enter a contest as an “official” contestant?

 Here’s the most frequently asked question of all.  The short answer is “Yes,” but there still may be an opportunity to participate in district and division mixed harmony contests in order to enjoy a contest experience AND to obtain a score for your records and submission to MBHA.  Please read this section carefully, as there’s much more to share.  And your MBHA leadership is working hard to provide you with the most detailed information that we can to help you navigate this issue.

Each BHS district has been informed by the Society’s Contest and Judging Committee that, in order to include mixed ensembles in their official contests (either District or Division), all individuals and ensembles must be Society registered members.  This means that:

·     Many BHS districts hold contests that include mixed ensembles, and likely more will do so in the future.  However, given the policy now in place, only BHS-registered ensembles will be automatically eligible for inclusion in any mixed contests sponsored by Districts (both District and Division level), whether the mixed contest session is held separately from a single-sex ensemble contest or if the mixed ensembles are integrated among men’s quartets in the contest order of appearance in the same session.

·     It remains the sole discretion of a district’s leadership to include mixed harmony contestants, whether BHS-registered or not. At a district’s discretion, non-BHS quartets may be allowed to participate in a district or division contest “for score and evaluation only,” if the district’s leadership determines that the contest schedule and number of otherwise eligible contestants allows for “room” for such participation.

·     If an ensemble from MBHA is granted permission by a district to participate for score and evaluation only, their score will not appear on the Official Scoring Summary (scoresheet), and they will not be eligible for any District or Division contest “awards” officially offered by the District.  Each MBHA (or, for that matter, non-MBHA) mixed ensemble granted permission to participate in a contest session will receive their individual score sheet and be eligible for a judges’ evaluation if they wish one.  (This is critical to those MBHA quartets seeking potential eligibility for the World Mixed competition, addressed later.)


How will we know which Districts or Divisions will allow MBHA quartets that aren’t BHS-registered to participate in their contests, even if “for score and evaluation only?”

 MBHA is fortunate to have leadership that is already in the process of communicating with every district (and their divisions) to determine which contests will be able to accommodate non-BHS mixed ensembles’ participation in their contests.  We will be updating our website and Facebook page promptly and regularly to ensure you are aware where your participation is welcome, along with links to contest entry online forms.  When districts’ permission is granted, ensembles will need to ensure they enter contests “for score and evaluation only” to properly comply with the system.  In the interest of civility, we ask that you be patient and await MBHA’s publication of which districts will accommodate MBHA ensembles “for score only” in their contests before contacting districts unilaterally.  We know you “want to know;” but please allow us time to gather the information for you and not besiege district leaders with individual inquiries.  We want to maintain the best possible relations with BHS district leaders, for your benefit and for theirs!  Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation; we’ll publish what we know as soon as we know it!


If my ensemble participates in a contest session “for score only,” and is not eligible for any “official district or division awards,” does MBHA still recognize their rank with any award?

 Yes!  We are working with districts to ask that the prestigious MBHA championship trophies (generously donated to award MBHA participants) be publicly awarded to the highest-ranking MBHA ensemble, whether or not they are entered in the contest as an official entrant (appearing on the scoresheet).  For example, a BHS-registered and MBHA-registered ensemble could receive both District official awards (medals, pins, trophies) and an MBHA trophy as the highest scoring mixed ensemble.  But an MBHA (non-BHS) ensemble, participating for score only, would still be recognized as the highest MBHA member quartet with a trophy, even though their score isn’t published.  (Judges maintain and can provide those scores to award presenters, of course.)


Given the new policies, how can my ensemble qualify for the Mixed World competition in 2020?

 As stated in the overview above, MBHA is the exclusive organization certified by organizers of the Mixed World competitions to name representatives from both the US and Canada as competitors in the international mixed contests held in Germany.  There is no guarantee that North American entries from non-MBHA ensembles will be eligible for participation in the Mixed World contests.  Published scores for MBHA mixed quartets in District or Division contests in 2018 and 2019 are (and will continue to be) maintained and ranked by MBHA; so, BHS-registered ensembles that are also MBHA members will be easily retrieved from districts and ranked by MBHA for consideration.  Ensembles that are NOT BHS-registered and participate “for score only” must provide a scanned copy of their ensemble’s individual score summary to MBHA for inclusion in our rankings and consideration for qualification.

 Currently, the highest scoring MBHA mixed quartet and chorus from the US and Canada (one quartet and one chorus for each) in the 2018-19 cycle is automatically accepted into the World Mixed contest.  MBHA also provides next-highest ranked ensembles’ scores for organizers of the World Mixed contests to consider as “wild cards.”


Are there any other ways for my ensemble to participate in mixed contests outside of BHS districts or divisions?

 Yes!  First, we are delighted that Harmony, Incorporated has agreed to afford the opportunity for MBHA mixed ensembles to enter all their Area contests.  As you may know, these contests use the same judging and scoring criteria as official BHS contests.  These scores will also be retrieved and ranked by MBHA for inclusion in the “mix” for World Mixed eligibility.  As with BHS district and division contests affording mixed participation, we will be posting all information and links on our website and Facebook page about upcoming HI Area contests for MBHA ensembles to consider entering.

Second, we are exploring the prospect of ensembles’ video performance submission for adjudication by certified BHS judges and the possibility that these performances and scores would be acceptable by the World Mixed organizers for eligibility.  This is not yet a guaranteed method of qualification, but rest assured we are exploring the possibility and will announce its availability if and when a process solidifies.


How can we stay up to date on any other further developments regarding mixed ensemble contest participation, updates and changes to the Society’s “Everyone in Harmony” initiative, or ANY breaking news from MBHA?

 We value your membership in MBHA (or your interest in becoming a member!), and hope to provide you with as much information as is available to us in as timely a manner as possible.  Please stay current with us by:

·     Becoming familiar with our official website,  Log in for exclusive member benefits, directories and events!  We have a great team posting up to date info for you on the site’s blog.

·     “Like” our Facebook page,  We post any updates to the website’s blog here, too, for your easy retrieval.  For example, these FAQs will be linked there.

·     If you need more clarification, please write We’ll do our best to get to you promptly with the most accurate info available to us at the time.

MBHA Statement and FAQs Associated with the Barbershop Harmony Society January 2 Announcement Concerning Mixed Harmony Ensembles



Sheryl Berlin

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