Waldorf, MD – Ball in the House, a Boston-based a cappella group, held an April 15 concert at St. Charles High School. The five-member vocal group wasn’t in town just to perform, it taught choir students — about 70 — the history of a cappella and gave the high school-aged singers advice.

About 20 St. Charles choir students make up the Spartones, the school’s a cappella group. It recently competed against 14 other groups during SingStrong D.C., a competition featuring groups from around the metropolitan area and New Jersey. The Spartones placed third overall with three of its members singled out for special awards. Myo Hardy won best vocal percussion (also known as beatboxing), Devonte Valentine earned the best male soloist award and Tatyana Smith won the best student arrangement of a song. Smith got an honorable mention as best female soloist and Rebecca Kuhn, the school’s drama teacher, received an honorable mention for choreography.

“We heard about a group at SingStrong,” said Wallace Thomas, the baritone in Ball in the House. “We saw some videos of you guys.”

“We all got started in music at a young age … We were actors, in choruses,” said Dave Guisti, the group’s tenor, who attended Boston Boys Choir School with Ball in the House’s percussionist Jon Ryan. The group, with members coming and going, has been around for 15 years or so, touring the world and will travel to China in July.

A lifetime of performing has given group members expertise when it comes to maintaining friendships and professionalism. In a cappella, “it’s important to work as a team and it’s really important to listen to each other,” Guisti said.

Kani Jackson, a senior, has been in the Spartones for two years. He said a cappella is different from any other form of music. “You have different rhythms, different harmonies,” he said. “You can change the beat of a song, but you still recognize it. And it’s definitely insightful to have people who are professionals shedding light on it further.”

A cappella is not a genre of music, Thomas said, it’s a different way to perform genres. The earliest form of a cappella is Gregorian chants. In the 16th and 17th centuries, madrigals performing in four-part harmony were popular. By the 1600s and 1700s spirituals were being sung without instrumental accompaniment, blues and gospel ushered in quartets of singers who got together at barbershops. By the 1950s, rock ’n’ roll spread across the country like wildfire and du-wop groups sang the songs — sans instruments — they heard playing on the radio. Contemporary a cappella can be any type of music as long as it’s 100 percent free of backing tracks and vocals, Guisti said.

Ball in the House held a concert Friday night at St. Charles for the public with the school’s choir students and Spartones performing as well. The Spartones who are headed to college in the fall — like Jackson and Smith — are already looking at joining a cappella groups wherever they land.

The Spartones said performing together has created a bond among the group. “We’re not just friends, we’re more of a family,” Jackson said.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.