What Is Show Choir, You Ask?

I was in show choir from 7th to 12th grade, and it was my life. I want to not only explain show choir to those that don't know, but I also want to show the world that "Glee" is not an accurate portrayal of REAL show choir. (Edit: I just realized how long this list is, and I'm sorry, but I really am just so passionate about show choir)
  1. Show choir auditions are typically held around April for the upcoming school year; you are expected to sing a song of your choice and learn and perform a dance of about 64 counts (8 eight counts -- I'll explain this later).
  2. Not everybody gets in show choir (highly different than "Glee") -- if you can't sing or dance, bye.
  3. You made it in -- congratulations!
  4. Show choir is a huge financial commitment; if you're a parent, be prepared to pay a deposit of at least $1,000 at the end of the school year prior to the upcoming year your child will be in show choir.
  5. This money covers costumes, music, paying the band, entrance fees for competitions, transportation to competitions, hotels at competitions, choreographers, and the list goes on and on, so please don't think your money stops at that initial payment.
  6. Preparation for the upcoming year starts in the summer. You and your parent/guardian will have to sign a contract that outlines a few things.
  7. These things are: the workout you will have to do throughout the summer, the financial obligations, agreeing to not change your hair in any way without consulting the director, that you will maintain a certain GPA, and agreeing that you won't exceed a certain weight.
  8. The weight thing is not to be mean, it's more so that costumes won't need to be altered at the last minute.
  9. Now that the administrative issues are out of the way, it's time to get started! During one year of show choir, you will learn two shows: a fall show, and a competition show.
  10. The fall show is basically used to perform for elementary schools to get kids interested in show choir, for fundraisers, for dinner theatres, and other random gigs around town.
  11. You will learn your fall show at a week-long camp during the summer break. It will be hot. Get ready. In order to build stamina, you will run around the building while singing to ensure you get used to being active while singing.
  12. Show choir is also a huge time commitment; in addition to it being a class every day, there are also weekly rehearsal after school, and all day Saturday/Sunday rehearsals to learn choreography or prepare for competition.
  13. Some things about vocals: you will be divided into your voice part (Bass, Tenor, Alto, Soprano II, Soprano I) based on your audition and where you can add the most value.
  14. If you have any shyness or reservation about singing by yourself, and you think it's fine because you're in a group and won't ever be heard, think again. Sometimes the director will make everyone audition for a certain solo. Or if there's a wrong note being sung by a section, everyone in that section will have to sing the notes by themselves.
  15. Some notes about choreography: some show choirs like to do very theatrical numbers; that was NOT us. We liked to do contemporary music with tight choreography. Also, there are some show choir standards.
  16. The Jazz hand: you should pretend like you're palming a soccer ball, and your fingers should be spread so far apart that it hurts. This is the only way.
  17. Kick, ball, change: it is what it is.
  18. Turns: IMPORTANT... Your face is the last thing to turn and the first thing to come back to the front. Your face should never be directly facing the back during a turn.
  19. "Blades:" really stiff arms and fingers together, so your arm looks like a blade. Ha.
  20. Synchronization: everyone's movements have to be the same. There is no exception to this rule. Be prepared to have your arm extended for 10+ minutes while the director makes sure everyone's arms are on the same angle. The group should look like one unit, even when guys and girls are doing separate choreography.
  21. Blocking: sorry, everyone can't be on the front row. The people with the strongest voices in their vocal part will be on the front, provided they don't look like an idiot doing the choreography.
  22. PERFORMANCE: everyone should have so much energy and be looking like they are having the best time they've ever had. Any time you are not singing, you should be smiling. When you are singing, you should be conveying the message of whatever you're singing about. Flirt with the audience. Raise your eyebrows. That's "show choir face."
  23. If making show choir face makes you nervous, get over it. Your director will likely make you all get in your first positions and sing through the show, no choreography, but still making face. If you do well he/she will call your name and you can sit down while watching everyone else. You don't want to be last one standing.
  24. Girls are required to curl their hair, and it should be BIG hair. Use a soda can to get an understanding of how high your poof in the front should be. Nobody should wear glasses. Get contacts, go without, or don't perform. Guys' hair should be out of their eyes.
  25. Also, girls will wear dresses, nude pantyhose, identical earrings, and stiletto heels. Learn to dance in them. Guys will wear suits and dress shoes. Learn to dance in them.
  26. There should be NO fidgeting EVER. When a song is over, you hold that ending pose and smile until the next song starts. Do NOT touch your hair, do not scratch, do not adjust your clothing. If sweat gets in your eye and it burns so bad, deal with it. Do not touch it. We'll get into the "why" soon.
  27. When not dancing and just standing (e.g., beginning of show, ballad, etc.), guys should stand with their feet shoulder width apart, and girls should stand so their feet are positioned with the heel of of one foot touching the arch of the other. (LEGS TOGETHER). This is crucial, and you will get deductions for not doing it.
  28. Those were some general tidbits. Now, let's move on to the most important stuff: COMPETITION.
  29. Competition season typically lasts anywhere from the end of January to the end of March.
  30. The competitions are all over the place; for us, they were in Mississippi and Alabama primarily.
  31. They are on weekends, and you will typically go to 5; the weekends will be back-to-back, so prepare for that. You will ride chartered buses to the location and stay in hotel rooms (see above re: money).
  32. The competition show is brand new, and we are getting costumes!! So fun. You will probably have 3 costumes for the competition show. Practice quick changing; you will have about 30 seconds to a minute to change an entire outfit in the wings between songs.
  33. Competition shows usually follow this format: Opener (upbeat song), optional second song (can be another upbeat number or a novelty number), a ballad (no dancing, strictly singing), a girls' number, a guys' number, and a closer (which should bring down the house).
  34. At competitions, the judges score you on vocals (intonation, blend, diction, etc.), choreography (difficulty, execution, blocking, etc.), and performance (costumes, any backdrops or sets, song selection, how everyone is performing).
  35. There is a time limit for each group of about 20 minutes, give or take, depending on the competition. That includes your show, along with band setting up and assembling props/sets/backdrops. You go over that time limit, you're screwed. Also, you are only to enter from stage right and leave on stage left. If someone does it wrong, deduction.
  36. What else can you get deductions for? Blocking being off, someone is off pitch, a soloist has a bad day, fidgeting, adjusting costumes, not having face, forgetting choreography, your band messing up, to name a few.
  37. There are different divisions within competitions: junior high show choirs, all-female show choirs, and A and AA mixed show choirs (under 30 members and over 30 members, respectively). That determines who you will compete against.
  38. Your group should all sit together, and clap/stand up after every group's performance. This is not only courteous, but it also helps your chances of winning the Spirit Award (#cheercamp?).
  39. After an entire day of watching other groups and performing your show, if you place high in your division, you go to ~finals~, which start around midnight.
  40. After the evening has concluded and trophies have been given out, it's back on the bus to drive home, as well as listen to the judges' tapes. Be prepared to be called out. Same goes for the next day you're back in class and the group watches the videos and gets critiqued.
  41. Towards the end of competition season, one of your competitions will be your "BIG TRIP," which means it's a competition far away in a cool place (see above re: finances).
  42. Some examples of BIG TRIPs my show choir took: Gatlinburg, Nashville, Orlando, the Bahamas, NYC. They are fun, and the competitions are usually much more laid back.
  43. And there you have it: show choir in a nutshell! There are certainly plenty more things to cover, but I will spare you, as I can't believe you actually made it this far down.
  44. To rewa
  45. Although it has ridiculous rules and it is expensive, time consuming, and exhausting, show choir is something so special and such a unique experience. I am so, so, so lucky I got to be a part of something like that, somewhere that I excelled (because it has NOT been sports).
  46. I met amazing friends through show choir from all over the country, and I still to this day (11 years since the last time I was in show choir) watch my videos, because it is such a timeless thing, and it reminds me of when I was the happiest -- on stage.
  47. And now, I will leave you with a perfect example of a competition show. This group, "Attaché," is from back in my home state of Mississippi, and has been considered one of the best (if not the best) show choirs in the nation for years.
  48. This show landed them Grand Champion titles at every single competition they attended. I hope you will watch and see/laugh at the many things I explained in this list (e.g., synchronization, how to stand, "show choir face," how to do your hair, etc.).
  49. Most of all, I hope you can watch this and relate to or imagine the thrill and the rush of being on that stage, and the euphoria that gives to someone like me, who hadn't fit in anywhere before I found show choir.
  50. Show choir gave me so many positive things and so many wonderful friends, and it is my hope that all of you have something in your life, either in your past or currently.