10+ Values Show Choir Students Learn

Choir Treble ClefBy John Gardner

See Teens At Their Best

This is a followup article to, “14+ Ways To Volunteer For A Show Choir To Help Teens Sing Their Hearts Out“, which focused on ways to share your talents and abilities and experience the youthful, enthusiastic atmosphere around a show choir during competition season. It is also a re-tooling of the article, “10+ Values Marching Band Students Learn“, with THIS article’s focus on values show choir students learn.

Show choir competitions can involve two dozen groups with two thousand students with nothing resembling the level of supervision in a high school before or after school or as classes change. For the most part, choir parents and the directors are the only ones with direct oversight….. and after a performance, most students are free to roam the building or move freely in and out of the performance areas as they mix and mingle.

In costume, before a performance, you’ll see focused faces as students prepare to do what they are there to do. You might see them move quietly, in lines or couples, from their homeroom to warm-up to performance.

Show choir students learn dedication, commitment and
that striving for excellence is a worthy goal.

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Show choir operations are very structured with responsibility and accountability. There are seniors, section leaders, dance captain(s), staff, directors (where do I put parents in this list) all with authority over the ensemble student. They understand the ‘why’ of the structure – and they comply.

Show choir students learn the value of,
and respect for chain of command
.

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Unlike a basketball team with its starting five, there is no bench in show choir. Everybody is in. Everybody is a starter. Few other types of groups will involve people from such varied backgrounds. There are children of doctors and lawyers performing with children of single-parents working multiple jobs or utilizing government help. There are the students who have their own cars and those who need rides, those with the iPhones and the free phones or no phone. You will find students from every church in the community and others who have never been inside a church. And yet, with all these differences, when they are in costume (actually, even before they dress)…..they are all on the same team, all equal. A good result requires the best from everyone. Students learn teamwork and cooperate with those outside their friend circle.

Show choir students learn to
cooperate and collaborate
with those from different
backgrounds and capabilities.

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Go to a Show Choir competition and watch students cheer and applaud for good performances of other groups, including those with whom they compete. You’ll see them wishing each other good luck, especially when a group is transiting through the pre-performance stages and passing others who have either already performed or have a while yet to go.

Show choir students learn good sportsmanship.

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Show choir is not a normal class-only choir activity. Unlike a marching band, which has about two full weeks of all day rehearsals prior to the start of school in the fall, show choirs are generally learning their shows during the late fall and early winter months in rehearsals that often start after school, go through the dinner hour (group meal in the hallway) and into the later evening – PLUS Saturdays. Some rehearse over the holiday break.

Show choir students learn to commit, persevere and endure.

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You’ll see both excited and disappointed students as the results are announced, but they will display professionalism many adults would be good to observe and learn from.

Show choir students learn that there are no shortcuts to success.

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Many students, probably for the first time in any significant way, are given tasks and responsibilities and held accountable for them. The choir student is responsible for maintaining outfits and accessories for rehearsals and transit to competitions. For dance captains, this is likely the first time with leadership, management and oversight responsibilities, including calling out a friend who os ‘out of line’.  At the end of a 4-yr career, graduating seniors will talk about how

show choir “taught them” responsibility and accountability.

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Show choir students learn that they are individually important.

There is nowhere to hide in a show choir. All students are active participants. Specialized expert judges are evaluating vocal sound, the dancing, soloists, the backup ensemble, even the stage crew. Show choir students understand that a trained judge’s eye automatically goes to what is different; someone out of sync, out of formation, out of tune, and that an individual performance reflects on the total ensemble score.  Student leaders learn how to balance their role as a mentor and teacher/trainer for the newbie members, while also ensuring that even the newbies get up to speed in time for performance.
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Students are trying to find their spots and make their moves in the routine. It is difficult to see the big picture from the stage, so there are directors or instructors watching from farther back (and sometimes higher up) who will adjust form and balance. Or perhaps it is to point out that an individual is not moving with others or extending, smiling, focusing, or whatever. This is contrary to much contemporary educational philosophy which emphasizes only the heaping of praise on what students are attempting to do. Show choir students know better, and expect to hear how to improve individual performance. Achievement through excellence enhances self-esteem . The challenge for the individual is to “not take it personally”.

Show choir students learn to accept criticism, and that
self-esteem is raised through the achievement of excellence

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With the extreme time commitment, students must learn to prioritize their time and use it efficiently, especially when it comes to getting homework done.

Show choir students learn time management skills.

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When you ask people who were in a show choir years ago, they may remember how their overall group performed or competed, but probably not likely that weekly score or placing that seemed so important at the time. But they will remember the values they learned, which is why former show choir students encourage their children to participate as well. This is not the article to argue that choir utilizes academics, multiple arts and significant athleticism….. but they get all that as well.
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ps I am a band director and an instrumental teacher at the local university, but I have also been a two-time show choir dad over a six year period, and volunteered one year as the backup ensemble director — so I have spent considerable time around show choir students as well as those of the band variety. Thanks for reading.

15 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them.Also 4yrs as proprietor of VirtualMusicOffice.com, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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