Origins of AHSOW

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.

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. That's good news, as singing written arrangements is one of the fun, valuable things that Barbershoppers can choose to do.

The really good news is that Barbershoppers continue to have the opportunity to participate in the part of our art that got everything started -- woodshedding. The best PART of this really good news is that authentic woodshedding is completely central to everything that interested, concerned, active, growing, forward-looking, improvement-minded Barbershoppers could possibly wish to accomplish as they enjoy the totality of their hobby.

For far too many years, organized, authentic, properly undertaken opportunities to woodshed were unavailable to Barbershoppers except at Internationals, Mid-Winters, and Harmony College -- functions that not all Barbershoppers could attend, or where they were otherwise obligated and thus unable to indulge in woodshedding. Since its inception in late 1990, AHSOW's District Woodshedding program has "decentralized" 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 appropriate harmonies "by ear." These Barbershoppers greatly appreciate the presence, advice and support of AHSOW's District personnel, and the program has been well-received and wildly successful in the Districts where the program has been active.

At the 1996 Mid-Winter, the District Presidents endorsed AHSOW's goals by unanimous resolution. They realized that AHSOW plays a key role in providing Society members the opportunity to take active part in our hobby, rather than be passive listeners.

Specific benefits of the AHSOW District program: Men have the opportunity to come and enjoy authentic woodshedding. Experienced woodshedders get to practice and refine their skills, and novice woodshedders can learn the art and receive solid guidance. All participants enjoy exposure to a vast repertoire of old songs, and everyone experiences the thrill of locking chords with like-minded congenial men.

District administrators and musical leaders approve of frequent AHSOW-coordinated woodshedding visibility because the positive activity and supportiveness fit hand- in-glove with the goals of the Society -- specifically, member involvement and retention through great personal enjoyment and educational growth.

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