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The Totino-Grace "Company of Singers" perform their opening number, "Promise", at the Linn-Mar Supernova, from Fridley, Minnesota, USA

A Show Choir (originally known as a "swing choir") is a group of people who combine choral singing with dance, sometimes within the context of a specific idea or story.


Counties in the United States with at least one Show Choir program.

Show choir began in 1976 as a High School activity, first concentrated in the Midwest. It has since expanded to the East Coast and California, with early popularity beginning in Canada, and in several other countries including Argentina and Japan. It is a continually evolving art form. Many middle schools, junior high schools, and some colleges now have their own show choirs as well.

Technical aspect[edit]

While there is no standard requirement for the number of performers, show choirs typically contain between 30 and 60 singer/dancers. Larger schools with a more advanced program may have more than one show choir. Unisex show choirs usually compete in a separate division, with the exception of an "open" division, during which unisex and mixed groups compete against each other.

Show choirs traditionally wear a costume, though the definition of what is considered a costume in show choir is very broad and ranges from jeans and a t-shirt to extravagant period costumes or flashy dance-wear. It can be very conservative (such as tuxedos and ball gowns) or very edgy (such as modern or revealing clothing). Additionally, many larger show choirs include two or more costumes in their show. Participants typically wear stage makeup and shoes conducive to dancing (often "character shoes"). In the Midwest and on the East Coast, woman participants will generally curl their hair to look identical, with large poofs. Californian show choirs do not generally have identical hair. Otherwise, from the costumes to the stage makeup, show choir members often look uniform during most shows.

Shepherd Hill Regional High School's Show Choir "Fantasy" performing with Grecian costumes in 2014

The choir usually has a backup band (or "combo" if it includes a Horn Section) called a "Pitt Band" providing instrumental music to complement the voices. The instrumentation varies from song to song, but a common show choir band consists of guitar, bass, drums, trumpets, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, piano, and synthesizer. Some bands include violins or even cellos. Many larger show choirs typically have a larger combo to accompany them. The band is usually out of sight, however some band members have come out on stage to be featured during the show.

A "Tech Crew" is standard with most show choirs, as they assist with and handle the lighting, sound, and stage setup.


This is an example of a show choir competition program from Totino-Grace's Spectacular competition.

Many show choirs participate in competitions, sometimes called "invitationals" (though most are not invitation-only events). These competitions are often held at the high school where the "host group" attends, though some events are held at auditoriums or other facilities that can accommodate larger crowds and provide better acoustic performance.

Competitions can be as small as a showcase of a few groups from the immediate geographic area or they can feature many groups from multiple states. Because of the vast difference in sizes of the competitions, they can last a single afternoon or span an entire weekend. Competitions may separate competing choirs into different divisions. These divisions (called "Tiers") are often determined by age, skill level, size of the school or choir, and/or gender of the participants. The different divisions may take place at a different time, day, or at a different location or venue, though usually within the same school or close geographic area. There are three main divisions: Varsity, Unisex, and Prep. The divisions include Tier I, Tier II, Tier III and Tier IV. The latter two are generally only used by very large competitions in California.

Many competitions include a preliminary round and a finals found. The finals round commences after the preliminary awards are complete, where the top groups perform again in order to compete for the title of Grand Champion of the contest. The number of performing groups in the finals round is up to the hosting school, but typically 5-6 choirs participate. Those groups are sometimes given the opportunity to take suggestions from the judges made during the preliminary round and make adjustments to their finals performance in order to earn a better score. Hosting schools do not compete in the competition for ethical purposes.

Characteristics of a performance[edit]

Most show choir "shows" or "sets" consist of a variety of songs, often including several choreographed, fast-paced pieces and one slower piece performed with limited or no choreography. This slower number—usually a ballad—exists primarily to showcase the ensemble's singing ability. In California, it is a requirement that at least one minute of any one set be sung a cappella (it is usually one full song in the set), though this is not a standard in the rest of the country. More often than not, the a cappella selection is also the ballad, as it is much easier to sing unaccompanied while holding relatively still. In the Midwest, it is becoming popular to set one song aside as a "novelty" piece, designed to make the audience laugh. "Concept" or "story" shows that unify all of the songs together in a common theme are becoming more popular across the country, especially in California.

Within a song, vocal lines typically alternate between unison or octave singing, and two-or-more-part polyphonic harmony. Songs are chosen, adapted, and arranged from a variety of sources including popular music, jazz standards, and Broadway musicals, but rarely make use of classical music. Original music has also been performed by a small number of groups. Additionally, there is often at least one solo in each performance by a standout singer in the group.

Competitive performance sets range in length, but are usually timed to total between fifteen and twenty minutes. Shows generally consist of, but are not limited to, approximately five songs.


For many high school students, show choir is a large commitment that takes over the good part of a school year. For some, show choir is part of the school curriculum and is a class taught during the day. For others, it is an extra curricular activity that requires practice to take place before or after school. Practices may begin as early as the summer for some, while other choirs don’t start until much later. The competitive season takes place from January until late April, with competitions held across the country every weekend during that time.


Show choir, while time consuming, can be rich with rewards. Being a part of a show choir promotes teamwork and healthy competition. The choir must work together in order to compete against other choirs with similar skill sets. Show choir also promotes staying active and fit, as vigorous dancing and singing simultaneously requires energy and coordination as well as a maintaining a healthy body. Show Choir also looks really good on college applications because of the teamwork and it being considered an extra curricular activity.

See also[edit]

A fine resource for current Show Choir events

The official website for FAME Show Choir events

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Show_choir — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

8832 news items

JSU News
Fri, 13 Nov 2015 07:56:15 -0800

JSU's Encore! Show Choir is hopping in its wayback machine and setting the dial to the 1980s for its fall concert on Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., at the Mason Hall Performance Center. Admission is free and open to the public. Renee Baptiste, professor of music ...
Piqua Daily Call
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 16:58:51 -0800

PIQUA — The Piqua High School show choir “The Company” will present its annual Premier and Clinic on Saturday, Nov. 21. This fun event is open to children grades 1-8 from Piqua and the surrounding area. The day will begin at 9 a.m. and run to 2:30 p.m ...
Sun, 08 Nov 2015 14:30:00 -0800

Student choirs from Round Valley, St. Johns, Winslow, Snowflake, Show Low, Safford, Payson, Joseph City, Holbrook and Flagstaff came together Tuesday for the fifth annual George Gardner Show Choir Festival at Holbrook High School. The non-competitive ...

Janesville Gazette

Janesville Gazette
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0800

JANESVILLE—Adam Miller, a Craig High School music teacher and director of the Spotlighters show choir, received the Aspire Award for best new director, according to a news release from the Janesville School District. Miller received the award from the ...
Henderson Daily Dispatch
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 12:03:45 -0800

Kerr Vance Academy Show Choir places first place in state fair. Kerr Vance Academy; 22 hrs ago. The Kerr Vance Academy Show Choir, composed of fifth- and sixth-grade students, competed in the Folk Festival competition at the North Carolina State Fair.

Tri-City Herald

Tri-City Herald
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 13:22:30 -0800

Forte! will present Christmas variety show Dec. 4-5 in Kennewick. Show will include nods to famous Christmas TV specials. Youth show choir will perform classic holiday songs and newer tunes. Show choir is made up of teens from throughout the Tri-Cities.
Sooke News Mirror
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 05:07:30 -0800

The Sooke Youth Show Choir has been busy with a variety of upcoming shows and performances for all entertainment-hungry Sookies out there. The first of will be the Burger & Beer Movie Trivia Night fundraiser happening this Saturday, Nov. 14 at the ...
Boyertown Berk Montgomery Newspapers
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:03:45 -0800

The Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra will be joined on stage by the Boyertown Area High School Show Choir under the direction of Jeffrey Brunner. Boyertown Area Senior High School's Show Choir is excited to bring their energy and passion to stage ...

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