On Thursday, Jan. 29th, IC ACDA held a workshop led by one of our own, Miggy Torres! Miggy Torres is a composition major who has had a great deal of show choir experience in high school. His passion and wealth of knowledge on show choirs really came through as he presented this workshop. He talked about a range of topics, including: what show choir involves, what a competition program might look like, funding for a show choir, directing a show choir, how it's different from Glee, costuming, and how scoring works in a competition. I know that personally, I learned a great deal because I had previously known very little about show choirs. As a future choral teacher, I may be in a position where my students are very interested in starting one, or perhaps I would have to take over a pre-existing show choir. This was a great way to get a little more familiarized with what is involved in a show choir!
The IC ACDA members received a short "cheat sheet" of notes, which I will share here:
The Basics of Show Choir
Show Choir: A musical ensemble hat combines choral singing with full-body choreography in essentially equal parts. Vocalism, however, is expected to come first.
Standard Competition Program:
1. Opener: High energy. Make a strong first impression!
2. Second piece: More relaxed, but upbeat.
3. Ballad: Slow, minimal movement, showcases vocalism, delivers emotional punchline of the show; a tearjerker.
4. Medley/Novelty piece: May include a costume change. (Sometimes omitted.)
5. Closer: The show stopper. Super high energy. Leave it all out on the stage!
Ballads can sometimes be conducted, but generally the show is expected to be unconducted. Proper rehearsal technique and choreography can help with this.
Standard Competition Format:
There may be several divisions: Middle School, Novice Choirs, Advanced Choirs
Dancers in Front: A strategic technique that involves putting your strongest dancers in the front row to highlight the movement, especially during dance breaks.
Dance Breaks: Sections of songs where the singing stops, allowing for more challenging choreography.
Olympic Scoring: Where the highest and lowest scores are thrown out and the median scores are used. Aimed at maintaining a fair score.
Picture Change/Blocking: Arranging the onstage positions of each song/performance. There can be multiple picture changes per song.
Themed Show: A show where the program communicates a narrative or message/ worldview.
There are also some great resources Miggy gave us, such as:
Dr. Robert Lawrence (gave a great talk at ACDA East in Providence, 2012
We also watched some pretty amazing high school show choir videos on a playlist Miggy created for this workshop. Click here for the playlist to watch some for yourself!
It is a great idea for all future music educators to have some kind of background information on show choirs, especially if you want to teach in the mid-West or California! You never know what kind of teaching situation you'll find yourself in; best to be prepared! Thank you Miggy Torres for a wonderful workshop!
-Sunhwa Reiner, President-Elect of IC ACDA
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