What Show Choir Taught Me About Life


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Ah, show choir. Otherwise known as wearing ugly-ass outfits, dancing lame choreography and singing equally lame songs. At least in the previous century, when I show choir’ed it up.

Who would have guessed that experience would result in anything other than humiliation and shin bruises from tripping up the risers?

Not me, that’s for sure.

I was in show choir from eighth grade through my senior year. Back then, all kinds of kids participated. We had the most popular (i.e. the jocks and cheerleaders), the outcasts (i.e. the smokers and near drop-outs) and the mid-listers (i.e. the kids who were friends with both groups…I was a mid-lister).

Those five years taught me a lot, although very little of it had anything to do with singing, dancing or fashion.


Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you’re going to be off-key.

We had a couple of people in our group who belted out their parts—poorly. I wasn’t the best singer, but I was smart enough to recognize the bad ones.

The thing that amazed me about the loud baddies was that they seemed to have no idea how bad they were. But guess what?

They made it into the group every year.

Their confidence and passion for singing was what got them where they were. They seemed to mesmerize the audience with their audacity, which consequently also seemed to impair the audience’s auditory judgment.

What I learned: Don’t get caught up in what other people think of you. Love what you’re doing, and it will show.


Partners are key to a successful routine. Unless they rub you the wrong way.

Like, literally rub you the wrong way, standing behind you rubbing his boy stick up against your butt cheeks like they’re flint and he’s trying to start a fire.

Yes, that happened.

When my partner wasn’t molesting me (or I had a different one), I learned that the stupid songs and lame choreography were easier to bear when I had someone at my side.

When we were in sync, the ridiculousness of our songs and dance steps seemed less significant, and sometimes I even got into it a little.

The dancing and singing, that is.

I use the term “partner” here loosely. A partner can be a boy/girlfriend, spouse, lover, friend, family member, or pet. Everyone is capable of nurturing a relationship with at least one champion who stands with them or lays next to them on the couch with her furry belly exposed and says, “I got this” (or “Woof” or “Meow”).

What I learned: There is strength, joy, courage and optimism in numbers, even if it’s only two.


Volunteer for the solo. You may never get another chance.

As you may remember from a previous post, I waited until my senior year to volunteer for a solo. Although to be completely honest, it was kind of expected that seniors would do solos or duets. But the point is, I raised my hand, willingly.

It was the best singular experience of my life up to that point because I felt something I’d never felt before: Pride.

Not so much in my singing ability, although I have to admit I did a damn fine job.

I felt the kind of pride I do now when my daughter tackles something she’s struggling with and is successful. I felt pride in my willingness to try, no matter the outcome.

What I learned: Doing the things that scare you are sure to be some of the greatest moments of your life.


The guy in charge may seem like an asshat, but he’s a person too. (aka, Don’t judge a show choir by its outfits, cuz sometimes they’re really ugly.)

I really didn’t like our choir director. He was married to songs and choreography we’d been doing for years. It was like he was allergic to new.

Think Aubrey Posen in Pitch Perfect (played by Anna Camp), the uptight and traditionalist co-leader of the Bellas, who vomited at Nationals.

One time I got to the choir room early, and I saw him sitting at the piano marking up sheet music and eating a sandwich. I’ve always had a soft spot for people who eat alone—it seems so melancholic to me.

So when I saw him like that, outside of his role as our choir director, he became a human being to me, more like me than separate from me.

What I learned: Susan Boyle, anyone?
But seriously, don’t be so quick to judge people because you usually have no idea who they are, where they came from or where they’re heading.

So, what about you? What experience early in your life taught you the most? What surprised you about what you learned? Anyone else out there a show choir geek?

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