CJ Replay: The Educational Value of an Entertainment Choir
Date: January 9, 2014
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal column, “Get Down,” by Gene Grier)
Can a classically trained singer with a strong interest in jazz find satisfaction from directing a show choir? That depends on the educational goals of the particular teacher. After bearing the trials of friends who think I've sold out jazz and classical music to the pop idiom, and administrators who demand more public appeal to the show, this particular educator can answer. "yes."
So many of our higher education music programs are esoteric in a positive sense. The experience of learning our cultural heritage through the study of music of the Middle Ages, Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras helps our students expand as musicians. What, however, are we giving our students to prepare them for the real world of performing and teaching?
Can we remain in our Ivy Tower and still be valid as educators? What actually lies out there. awaiting our newly trained music graduates?
As future performers, by far the most available work in a sparse job market is in the entertainment business. Young performers can find jobs in theme parks like Disney World or Busch Gardens, in releases for Vocal Jazz Ensembles and Swing Choirs, road shows with entertainers like Carol Lawrence or Sammy Davis, Jr., on Television entertainment shows like Donny and Marie, Mary Tyler Moore, Las Vegas Club shows, lounge acts, rock groups, convention shows, touring choirs (like the Norman Luboff Choir), T.V. commercials and studio work. The show choir not only prepares the future performer as a musician but prepares them to be entertainers by giving them experience in stage movement, personality projection and ease with an audience.