TV show sparks renewed interest in show choir

Story Image

Students who love to sing and perform are discovering the benefits of choir and chorus programs at school after a popular television show has proven inspirational.

Viewers really haven’t been treated to a show about performing students since Fame aired for five seasons, beginning in 1982. Since Glee debuted in September 2009, it has revitalized interest in show choirs and become an influential part of pop culture.

Glee follows the story of high schoolers that perform in a show choir group called New Directions. The show revisits the stereotypes that made Brat Pack movies such as The Breakfast Club popular in the 1980s. It pits the personalities of jocks, drama queens, eccentrics, cheerleaders and other high school staples against one another. Although an integral part of the show is the musical numbers, the songs are interwoven into the core theme of each episode; they help tell the stories of the students and teachers facing difficult issues — from bullying to intolerance to teenage pregnancy.

Glee has quickly become the 90210 for the current generation, but its appeal goes beyond hot-button issues and risqué subjects. Many avid fans tune in each week for the music and to see the talented cast put its spin on songs of today and yesteryear. Glee even helped spark renewed interest in performance arts programs in schools.

High school vocal directors have reported increased participation in choirs. In a report in The Daily Iowan, West High music director Ryan Person noted an upsurge in participation, particularly among male students — a group that was often difficult to attract.

According to Joel Biggs, president of FAME Events, a company that puts on show choir events and competitions, roughly 20 new high school choir programs emerged within the last year. He credited Glee for the rise in interest and said more than 300 show choir groups are now in schools around the country.

The Glee Effect, as it has been dubbed, could give renewed hope to arts educators that have seen budget cuts slash music programs across the board.

Glee is one of many shows that could be responsible for the upswing in auditions and interest in performing in high school. Students are no longer being swayed by the negative stereotypes surrounding show choir participation of the past. Camp Rock 2, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars and America’s Got Talent, are part of the collective group of television focusing in on the arts and inspiring new generations of students.

Courtesy of Metro Creative