Anybody else here with "show choir" experience?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by scott944, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. scott944

    scott944 Member

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    Spent the day today as part of the stage crew (mostly moving risers - damn things are heavy!) with other dads at our local high school's show choir competition. I played bass in my high school's choir, back in the stone age ('79), but it's a whole different world today. We had schools from 3 states competing. Most, but not all, had guitarists. A different kind of gig, for sure. You get 5 minutes, or so, to set up while the rest of the group is putting up backdrops, lights, drum kits, etc., play in several different styles, at wildly differing volume levels, and usually nobody even sees you behind all of the singer/dancers. Most of the kids were using small solid state amps or modelers plugged into a big keyboard amp being shared with other musicians. Saw a couple of semi-hollows, a Strat, a Jackson 7 string, a Sheckter, and not one, but 2 red Gibson Flying V's.

    I know that show choir is big in some areas of the country, and virtually non-existent in others. Anybody else done it, as a parent or participant?
     
  2. magpie74

    magpie74 Member

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    Three of our local high schools have show choirs. One of the three is run by a very accomplished local musician and is incredibly competitive to get into. I've had a number of students participate over the years, and several have gone on to study music at the college level. All in all, it's a terrific way for adolescents to develop their ensemble skills and gain valuable stage experience.
     
  3. speakerjones

    speakerjones Member

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    I've done sound for a bunch of shows and competitions. A good friend of mine directs a high school show choir. They are constantly winning awards. In fact they were at a competition today. Maybe it was the same one you were at?
     
  4. mmcquain

    mmcquain Member

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    Back in college (mid 80s) I ran sound for 3 years with my college's show choir. They would do week-long tours in the fall and over spring break (usually to FL). What you described above is similar to the way it was back then (except they had tube amps - LOL). Our band was made up of one the college's music professors playing keys, the bassist was the head of the college's recruitment office (and he would speak about the college's many programs during intermission as these tours were also recruitment efforts). The drummer and guitarist were friends from town that often played in a jazz combo with the bassist and keyboardist outside of college. In latter years the guitarist was actually a student at the college.

    A typical tour met a chartered bus (and often the college van following behind) and we'd go about 300 miles to the next gig (often a church would host the concert and church members would put up groups of students for the night - saved a TON on hotel rooms). We'd pull in about 4pm and unload. I'd then spend the next hour or so setting up the PA while everyone else went to the church's fellowship hall for dinner (provided by the church). Then they'd come back to sound check and go to get changed for the show. Assuming no issues, I'd have a couple of minutes to grab food but there were usually things I needed to take care of so eating was often skipped :(

    Then it was show time and I was at the board mixing both FOH and monitors. They'd do an intermission (where the recruiter guy and maybe a couple students would talk about the college). Then the full choir (not jazz) would do some numbers (traditional choir stuff) or (sometimes) the jazz choir did a second set.

    Afterwards it was tear down and load the gear back under the bus. Everyone would then break up into small groups and go home with their host family for the night. This was often the first chance I had to eat! Being typical college students, the rest of the night was a mix of late night fun, drinking (back then we could drink at 18), or being on your best behavior because you ended up with the "nice little old lady" grandma type who gave you milk and cookies before bedtime (LOL). It really depended on your host family and let's just say I've seen ALL TYPES from mild to WILD over the years!

    We'd end up in FL mid-week and that's when we'd have a few night in a hotel (and the real partying would take place) usually at Disney or similar. We'd often do a show on one of the stages at Magic Kingdom or something and have the rest of the day in the theme park. And then we'd head north again for the second half of the week on the way home.

    Before college, my high also had a similar jazz (show) choir but we never got to do the multi-state tours like we did in college.

    As far as playing these shows go, I compare it to playing musical theatre (Broadway style) shows like Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, etc. I've played four of those type of shows (as an adult) for my city's performing arts center. They are fun but also challenging because (as you pointed out) you will play a wide variety of musical styles (one song may be a hoe-down and they next one is a rocker, followed by a tango). You also have to be on top of your game because the cues (start/stops) come quick and have to be precise (or else you have a train wreck).

    I wrote an article about this type of work if anybody is interested...
    http://gear-vault.com/think-outside-the-box-and-play-in-the-pit/
     
  5. scott944

    scott944 Member

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    Here's a clip of our group from a couple of years back, when our daughter was in the group, for those of you who don't have an idea of what show choir is. Keep in mind that this is a group from a small school (AA, 525 kids), though they have won the WV state competition 12 times.

     
  6. mmcquain

    mmcquain Member

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    Scott944 - where are you at in WV? I'm originally from Elkins and the college jazz choir I'm referring to is D&E College in WV. Yes, the show choir thing seems to be popular in that area. But even here in FL it is popular. The middle school my son went to had a show choir group that won several contests.

    Oh, your daughter's group is very good. I'm sure you're a proud papa :)
     
  7. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Member

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    I did that in the mid-70's but it sounds like about the same experiences. I ran sound one year and sang bass background the next while also handling some on-stage sound duties.
     
  8. mmcquain

    mmcquain Member

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    bgmacaw-that's cool. I sang some in the regular choir (where my voice could be masked by those around who could really sing) but for the most part you do NOT want to hear me "sing" (and I use the term very loosely) :)
     
  9. scott944

    scott944 Member

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    I'm in Poca (yes, ESPN viewers, home of the "Dots"), just west of Charleston. I've seen the D&E group and remember them as being quite good.

    Thanks for the kind words. That group held it's own against schools 4 times the size. Video was shot in Fort Wayne, IN, at the longest running competition in the country. Very well run, but in a horrible venue - a very old gym. Bonus - I could sneek up to Sweetwater when we were in town.
     
  10. mmcquain

    mmcquain Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Glad you got to see the D&E group. And very cool that you got to visit Sweetwater... did you get to pick up any new toys when you went there? :)
     

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