Spring Lake Park High School has yet another crowning achievement to add to its growing list of accomplishments.
Four seniors with a penchant for singing four-part, a cappella harmony last spring got together and formed a barbershop quartet they dubbed Pre-Show Haircut.
On May 22, they took first-place in the St. Paul Barbershop Society/Northstar Chorus competition held at Elmwood Church in St. Anthony. This was the organization’s first attempt at holding such a contest.
Members of the SLP quartet are Adam Trott (tenor), Nick Dedolph (lead), Travis Knutson (bass) and Coulter Carey (baritone). All four are 2012 graduates of Spring Lake Park High School.
“I was so proud of them. They really sounded good,” said Jeff Wressell, their high school choir teacher.
For their winning performance, the boys sang barbershop standards “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” and “Coney Island, Baby.”
The win garnered a $1,000 prize for the high school’s choir and a first-place trophy and first-place medals for the boys.
Wressell said he intends to use some of the prize money to bring experienced barbershop singers to the school to further promote the art form.
Being this was the first time the competition was held, only two groups answered the call to compete.
Mounds View High School’s barbershop quartet came in second place.
Still, the barbershop society/Northstar Chorus considered the event, which drew a fairly large audience of an estimated 60 people, a success, according to Wressell.
They love making music
To prepare for the contest, the Pre-Show Haircut singers practiced almost every day after school for one or two hours over a period of four months.
Lead Nick Dedolph was ecstatic with coming in first place.
“We just love making music and putting it together. It was really fun,” he said.
Among the many skills Dedolph picked up performing barbershop are the dynamics of singing in a group, learning the musical style and forming close friendships with his fellow singers.
Dedolph admitted to the group having its perfectionists.
“We would go back and redo things five, 10 and 15 times to make it perfect,” he said. “We really worked on the little things.”
Other skills the boys learned by delving into barbershop are singing independent melody lines, singing in four parts, tuning harmonies and developing interpersonal and leadership skills, Wressell said.
Wressell has maintained ties to the barbershop quartet community throughout the years. Mike Brama, a former custodian at the high school, was a barbershop singer. He and his group performed at the school for Wressell’s students for about a dozen years.
“The kids just loved them,” Wressell said. They came to look upon the singers as grandparent figures, he said.
Some of Wressell’s male singers when they were younger attended Harmony Explosion Youth Barbershop Camp, a four-day barbershop seminar in LaCrosse, Wis., sponsored by Land O’ Lakes District of the Barbershop Society. Three of the four Pre-Show Haircut singers had attended the camp.
‘Sounds like fun’
For the last few years, Wressell’s students had approached him, asking about starting a barbershop quartet in the high school.
Last year when Wressell received a call from a barbershop staffer wondering what he thought about starting a Twin Cities competition, Wressell brought the question to his students.
“What do you guys think?” he asked his male singers.
“Oh, we want to do that. That sounds like fun,” Wressell said, recalling the boys’ responses.
Pre-show Haircut was featured in Spring Lake Park’s December choir concert.
After this spring’s barbershop competition and awards presentation, the boys were treated to a musical coaching session by experienced barbershop singers.
Dedolph still thinks about the rewards that come along with singing harmonies ensemble, especially barbershop.
“I’ve had so much fun doing it the last two years, I can’t see myself not doing it anymore,” he said.
Wressell said his female singers will have a similar opportunity to sing in a quartet starting this coming year.
Elyse Kaner is at firstname.lastname@example.org