As a mother of twin boys with very different interests, it is truly bittersweet as I transition from being a basketball mom and now from being a show choir mom. Now, I know people will say, “once a show choir mom, always a show choir mom”. Honestly, I believe that as I look around at so many parents still engaged in show choir after their kids have graduated. It makes me reflect on my experience as a show choir mom and what it has meant to me, and to our family.
We became a show choir family when my daughter joined during eighth-grade. We just moved back to Loveland after being in California two years for my career. I have to admit I wasn’t a great show choir mom at first. Before I explain why I was bad at it, let me explain what it is, in case you don’t know.
Generally speaking, show choir is a competitive singing and dancing performance judged on many attributes, including vocals, choreography, costumes, band/music, and stage crew. Different schools host competitions at which multiple schools compete in a variety of different classes of competition; such as middle schools, large high school mixed, all female, etc. Each group develops their own show, some have stories to them, or themes, and some are focused on the dancing and singing. For a performance, the stage is set up specific to that group. Then the show choir, typically composed of anywhere from 20 to 60 singer-dancers, with their accompanying band or music, performs for about 15 minutes. They usually have 30 minutes for set up, performance, and tear down of the set.
At Loveland, we have a middle school group (Revolution), a high school women’s group (Allure), and a high school mixed group (By Request). My daughter was a member of each group at some point in her five years performing with show choir. My son has been a member of the show band for each group, even getting to play bass on the stage this year during one of the songs. So, all in, we have been show choir parents for eight years now.
I strive to be authentic and typically start with: “Here’s a true confession from Stephanie…” So, here’s a true confession from Stephanie: I was bad at being a show choir mom at first. Why? I missed the parent meeting (big mistake) and generally didn’t know what was going on the first year.
Read that as, I may have sent my daughter to competitions without any money for food. I still feel guilty. Also, I didn’t know to attend the competitions right away. Partly because of the missed meeting, but, sticking with authentic here, maybe part of it was because I don’t like musicals, so I assumed I wouldn’t like show choir. I love MUSIC, but not musicals. That may be a different confession.
How did I come to be such a show choir fan? I figured out parents travel to these competitions. I took my mom to a competition in Fort Wayne about mid-way through my daughter’s middle school experience. The competition was all-day long, with a different group performing about every 30 minutes. We watched most of the middle schools perform and, WOW! I was absolutely blown away with how talented these kids were and how much I enjoyed the performances. When they were on stage, it was a SHOW. Everyone of them was engaging and amazing. And the band was made up of high school students which is amazing. Outside of the performance, I /we saw these are truly kids, but on stage they seemed like professionals. I figured out show choir is nothing like my miserable musical experience.
I also figured out Shawn Miller, the director of the show choirs is the kind of leader I want my kids to be around. He is like one of those coaches they make movies about. Mr. Miller has built this program over the past 20 plus years. It is nationally recognized as one of the best. He isn’t arrogant about it, and he isn’t just focused on his program and winning. As a matter of fact, these groups have won many grand championships over the years, but you won’t see the (sometimes gigantic) trophies in the hallways of school. That is not what it’s about. It’s about working with the kids to bring out the best in them. He tells the kids they don’t
have to win, but they do have to do their best. He models excellence and humility. He sets the expectation we will all be positive and encouraging of all the groups in a competition. Many other parents have commented about how polite and positive our kids and parents are. As parents, we all stand and applaud for every group because Mr. Miller has brought to our attention that we should. Every one of these kids are being brave by performing and we are positive encouragers of every kid from every group.
Mr. Miller also teaches the kids life lessons along the way. Lessons about working for the group, not just yourself and lessons in accountability and being your best. Through this time, I have seen my daughter and son accepted fully for who they are, supported by the entire show choir staff, and encouraged in a way that has resulted in growth. Growth as performers, but more importantly, growth as people who know how to work with a diverse group and who jump in to make sure the group is successful. And I am not sure where the fact that they get over 50 teenagers to do a costume change in less than 2 minutes in the middle of show fits in – character? Discipline? Definitely amazing!
These lessons go beyond the stage though; it has permeated our family. When making things right at work, I frequently say: “As Shawn Miller would say ‘It may not be your fault, but it is your problem.” Accountability. Just because I didn’t cause the issue doesn’t mean I am not responsible for solving it. By the way, I do give him credit. But, you might be surprised at how much I use it.
Finally, I really appreciate the overall show choir community. My husband became a stage dad to be with our daughter more since these competitions were intense, occupying most weekends through the winter. Through the long competition days, the stage dads have a great time with a lot of joking going on while making sure the set is safe and the kids are safe. Through that group and volunteer opportunities, I met a lot of the parents as well. Every parent I have met is completely supportive of all the kids. There are situations where kids need something and if any parent knows, they jump in to help right away. We work together to solve the issue if needed, even if we don’t know each other. Even if the kid is not in our group. Most parents from other schools are the same. This is the kind of community I love to be in and really exemplifies our Loveland values. (Thank you to everyone that has helped my kids through the years. I am positive I don’t know all the ways you have helped.)
A final true confession, I still watch and listen to prior years’ shows frequently, especially on planes. You can too if you just look them up on YouTube – just put in “Loveland By Request” and then pick a year; 2016 through 2019 are some of my favorites, and now we have “Loveland By Request 2022 4k @ NATIONALS!”
So, you can bet I will still go to competitions and cheer on our show choirs. Because, once a show choir mom, always a show choir mom. For good reason.