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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.

Location[edit]

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.

Competitions[edit]

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.

Commitment[edit]

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.

Benefits[edit]

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.

8819 news items

Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji Pioneer
Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0700

“Numbers are strong across the board, so we're really excited about that,” said Chris Fettig, show choir and choral director at BHS. During the five-day camp, participants work on three songs, staged and choreographed, for today's final performance ...

Henderson Daily Dispatch

Henderson Daily Dispatch
Fri, 07 Aug 2015 12:18:45 -0700

“These young people honed their skills — including vocal and movement coordination — in the loving family environment the show choir camp provides,” Clark said. Of his experience, camper Adam Brotherton said, “What will stick with me is how we all ...

OCRegister

OCRegister
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 00:28:11 -0700

The top-ranking show choir from Los Alamitos won the opportunity to chorally back the rock group after dominating a jingle-writing sing-off on 100.3 The Sound's “Mark in the Morning” show back in June. Contestants had to record an original jingle for ...

Winona Daily News

Winona Daily News
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:37:30 -0700

At Cotter, Ryan participates in Concert Choir, Show Choir, Timeless (a select ensemble of six men), Three Rivers All-Conference Honors Choir, UW-Eau Claire Honors Choir, and MSHSL Solo-Ensemble Music contests. At the solo-ensemble music contest he ...
 
Sooke News Mirror
Wed, 19 Aug 2015 05:00:00 -0700

Her idea grew into what is known today as Sooke Youth Show Choir, a group of talented young artists - the organization has one motto: everyone gets to participate and have fun. “I saw a gap when it came to choral and musical theatre opportunities,” she ...
 
Tribune-Review
Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:54:33 -0700

As a public school teacher for eight years, one of Mary Ann Mangini's most enjoyable memories was having a children's show choir that could perform at nursing homes, hospitals and other places. Mangini got involved with shows at the Strand Theater in ...
 
The Patriot
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:03:45 -0700

FMU's concert choir and show choir are looking for members. If you sang in your high school concert choir or show choir, you can continue to sing at FMU. Or, if you have never sung in a choir before but would like to, now is your chance to do so. The ...
 
Crestview News Bulletin
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:18:41 -0700

31's Meet the Chorus night saw some show choir works-in-progress. With music and lyrics down on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” the all-girl Destiny nailed most of their choreography in time for the season debut. “We've got at least one dance down,” ...
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