My sons and I attended the show choir competition yesterday at Viterbo University in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. It's not really kosher for me to give my detailed opinions on the shows I watched or what the outcome should have been. Judging one of those competitions is difficult enough without having your decisions severely scrutinized and picked apart by every armchair show choir judge in the world. I'll just say this...the majority of people that complain about show choir competition results have never tried to sit and score based on the actual score sheet at a competition. It's grueling and difficult mostly because there are so many top tier groups that are similar in ability doing great things these days.
We got there in time to watch every single open class group. I was very impressed with all the groups I saw. It used to be that my own group from Urbandale would win early competitions every year thanks to our exacting preparations. We were always the most prepared at the beginning of the season and it paid dividends. That's no longer the case. I saw at least four groups yesterday that were in end of season form.
Spending an entire day at a show choir competition gives you the chance to see some of the best and worst of humanity. When you squeeze thousands of people into a small space there is going to be some conflict. Most of my complaints at these events have to do with selfish or inconsiderate people. We run a large competition at our school so I understand how much work it takes and how badly some of the attendees will behave. I witnessed at least two instances of said bad behavior.
We arrived and paid our admission and turned to head up the hallway to the performance venue, but our path was blocked. The show choir from Lacrosse Logan was just heading to the stage and had to cross the hallway. A young Viterbo student was standing with her arms outstretched to indicate the the crowd trying to go down the hallway needed to wait until the show choir finished crossing. You can see where this is heading right? My sons and I were right in the front of the pack of people waiting when about four students wearing Lacrosse Central shirts and jackets pushed their way to the front of the crowd and with an enthusiastic "Excuse me" ducked under the Viterbo student's arms and shot through the line of Logan students. Apparently the same social mores and rules that kept us waiting patiently abiding by the request of the event organizers did not apply to them.
"Oh well, they're kids and they just didn't stop and think about it" I said to myself. Just then a 50'ish woman pushed her way to the front and asked, "Can I go through?" The Viterbo student and I answered at almost the exact same time with, "No, you have to wait until the show choir crosses to the stage." Did she acquiesce and wait like the rest of us? Of course not. She looked down the hallway and saw that the end of the show choir train was just a few feet down. "I'll just go around them," she said. And with that she pushed her way between the wall of the hallway and the waiting show choir members. I was astounded.
If you've attended a show choir competition, you've probably seen the venue fill up as the day progresses. Most events grant the performance slots at the end of the day to the best groups, so everyone tries to cram into the auditorium to watch. The emcee begs and cajoles the audience to make room for others and not to save seats. It doesn't do any good. After the afternoon break we headed into the balcony to find some seats for the top groups. We were pleased to see lots of available seats, but we soon found they were almost all saved. Those same Lacrosse Logan students that had blocked my path in the hallway as they headed to perform were now saving about 30 seats. I was incredulous and I didn't hide my disgust with their selfishness.
However, every time I attend a show choir competition I meet nice people. I spent time sharing a table in the cafeteria with a lovely couple from West Delaware, Iowa. I got to trade opinions with a few friends I've made at show choir discussion forum. I also got to greet many of the directors from other show choirs that I'll start competing against in the weeks to come.
The best part though was that I got to spend the day with my sons sharing an activity we all enjoy and are passionate about. I also got them in the car for 8 hours as we traveled to and from Lacrosse. We listened to music, sing along, and had a rousing discussion about our top 20 movies of all time. I think that will be my next post, so look forward to my list of favorite movies in the days to come.