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The best kept secret in music


"Tune-Crazy Toccatatones Spread Unique Harmony"

“A one, two, a one, two, three, four” and off with practice they go. Twelve men wrapped around a piano to sing in an empty Pauline Theatre. These men have an obsession, and it has led to enjoyment for many music-lovers.

Toccatatones president, Tony Starner, jokingly says, “[The Toccatatones] are a group of guys that get together with a singing problem.” You see, this a capella group can’t seem to stop singing. These fanatics have greeted students at open houses, sporting events and the President’s inauguration.

One corner of the grand piano has a man playing air drums yet his voice sounds like the drum set is present. Another corner of the piano has two of the guys singing “do-dum, do-dum” until the end of the short song. The others sing the music and finally, one lead singer does the lyrics.

This is the recipe for unpleasant noise unless the group is the Toccatatones. They are the realization of the late music professor Todd Carter’s dream of having an a capella group at HPU. Carter was originally from the North, and when he introduced himself it sounded like, “To-cata.” The group added “tones” to Todd Carter.

This group is like no other. Their quirkiness is evident in their practice. “Our personality comes out in the music,” Dane Jackson says. It also comes out in all facets of their show.

On stage they wear jeans, sports jackets, shirts and ties. The attire is “uniform in an individual way,” Starner says. Their clothes are a mismatched group creating an interesting effect. Their whole focus is to perform an awesome show.

The music ranges from the Little Mermaid’s, “Kiss the Girl” to Gnarles Barkley’s “Crazy.” Impressively, the group arranges their own music. “Over the summer I would call [Starner] and ask if we can do this. He would say, ‘Go for it,’” Patrick Bliss recalls.

The practice of the first song quickly flows into another song they are starting from scratch. It is almost painful for the average listener to follow because each part is sung individually. The song does not come together until all are singing. Then, the music is crystal clear as if a song is coming in clearly over the radio.

A teacher walks in to help, but these men find the man more of a friend than a music teacher. They greet him like the regulars at the bar on Cheers welcome Norm. He is just there to play the piano as they practice.

The sense of a family is ever present. Find one member and another is close behind. In the Café, they sit together enjoying a quick bite and conversation. They hang out with one another in their free time and are found in Facebook photos together. “We are a singing family,” Starner says.

The family sticks together over time. Recent HPU and Toccatatones’ alumnus Mike Maykish supported the Toccatatones last April in the Pauline Theatre. During the concert, Maykish’s professional band opened for the student group. Maykish sings baritone for Almost Recess, an a capella group from Washington, DC.
The current singing family, along with Starner, Jackson and Bliss, includes: Adam Utley, Carter Burns, Ben Hensley, Josh Fast, Ben Tutterow, Clint Cooper, Blaine Russell, Tommy Connerton and Harris Walker.

Already this year the Toccatatones have sung at admissions’ open houses, Girls’ Night Out, the annual Thanksgiving lecture and gigs at Harrison’s on Main Street. For more information on future events, go to

“Alright, sounds good. See you tomorrow,” Starner says. Practice is over. - High Point Chronicle


- "A Gentleman's Club" - 2005
- Upcoming Album- Released Fall 2009

Videos of the performance of much of our repertoire can be viewed at:



Formed in the memory of the late music professor Todd Carter, the High Point University Toccatatones have been performing since 2001. Carter’s dream was to create an all-male a cappella group at High Point but his life was tragically cut short. Five High Point students began in 2001 to fulfill his dream. Starting with only one song due to the size of the group, they made their debut at a Spring Talent Show. From there on out, the group was a hit around campus and throughout the community. Growing in size with every semester, the group obviously branched out and started to perform a wider array of music. With more selection, they now were able to start performing more in the Triad Region. After gaining even more recognition, they eventually released their first album, A Gentleman’s Club, in late 2005. After the release of the album, they began to receive many corporate gig offers. They began performing for the likes of the International Home Furnishings Market and even the Board of Directors of Laz-Y-Boy Furniture. With a steady stream of gigs for both the school and also businesses and organizations throughout the community, the Toccatatones now perform quite regularly and give regular concerts to packed-houses of 400 or more. In March 2008, they were even lucky enough to be asked to perform for former President Bill Clinton upon his visit to High Point. With a second album in the works, the Toccatatones now are working to expand their exposure throughout North Carolina and the country.