In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joplin HS (Missouri) closed all school buildings and moved all learning to an online model. When this announcement was made by the administration, both faculty and students were curtailed into unknown territory with a lot of business left unattended including show choir auditions for the next school year. Until now, online show choir auditions had never been considered. With the chance of losing valuable planning months, the team had many items to consider including online show choir auditions.
One senior didn’t want this business to slip through the cracks. Bradley Baumhover is a senior and 4-year bass in Sound Dimension. He also serves on the choral leadership board. Ten students fill the roles of President, Vice President, Business Manager and Historian from each choir along with the stage manager. The two choir directors complete the board. “We have found this new set-up to be a great benefit to our program; our teams just seem closer and more bonded this year,” said Baumhover.
“One of our choir directors reached out to me and told me she was genuinely missing her students and wanted to talk about pre-planning for next year,” said Bradley. Baumhover and director Monica Reynolds worked together to schedule a call on Zoom. At 6 p.m. that evening, they had an hour-and-a-half meeting to collaborate with other leadership members. Brainstorming ideas included applying for a grant through the Missouri Arts Council, getting choirs from other areas of the country to come to Joplin for their competition, and how they could use the school’s learning management platform to hold auditions.
Specific items for discussion were:
Funding: “We rely on our business partners to help subsidize the costs of our competition shows. This could be anything from helping pay transportation costs, competition entry fees and costume fees. Our community is our rock. With the economy not doing too hot right now, we anticipate this will impact our sponsors and the charitable giving budget for the year.”
In the Spotlight Invitational: “We like to call our competition a hidden gem in the show choir world. The invitational brings in vendors and restaurants for a 2-day event which is much more than a competition. It’s a good time all around whether you are watching choirs or not. We grew to 31 choirs split up between two days this year; our largest event yet! We want to get the word out to our friends up north and on the coasts and let them know more about our competition.”
Kids Show Choir Clinic: “In the summer, we teach young students in grades 2-8 a mini-show complete with an opener, ballad and closer. We weren’t sure how this would be impacted because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Show Choir Community Reach: “We want to get our name out in the show choir community. We recently branched out into a wider bracket by traveling north to the Omaha South Classic this year and made so many new friends from Papillion-LaVista South, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Millard North and more. We only want more recognition for our program and the wonderful things we do here in Southwest Missouri.”
As the business manager of the program and president of Sound Dimension, Bradley, markets the choirs via social media, creates concert programs/Playbills, makes promotional videos and markets the invitational. Along with the directors, the meeting was very productive. He encourages other programs to use technology to their advantage in a similar fashion.
Sound Dimension, the varsity mixed group, has 48 members and was created in the early 80’s. Not long after, Touch of Class, the varsity women’s group, was formed. That choir has now grown to 52 women. Students on the show choir roster are required to enroll in either Sound Dimension or Touch of Class which meets four times a week. In addition to this, they meet for a week-long choreography camp in the summer and one day a week for two hours after school.
Monica Reynolds is director of choirs with Zachary Loving assistant director and Zachary Pettit, choreographer.
Bradley plans to attend college to pursue a degree in theatre management. “As an alum [of Joplin], I plan to resume my duties and hopefully mentor a student to hold a position similar to mine.”
Walking the halls at a competition, you’ll see students from different counties, regions and sometimes other states. The choir students at Joplin HS like to reach out to as many as possible in order to meet and make new friends. Passing out Dum Dum Lollipops was just the ice breaker needed to achieve that goal and Share The Love. “We bring Dum-Dum’s to every competition and pass them out to everyone we see,” said Bradley Baumhover.
Bradley has always loved show choir. “I started going to competitions at an early age because my sister was also involved. My favorite part of competitions is meeting new people.” This season, they traveled to the Nevada Show Choir Classic where they met some new friends from Jenks HS Trojanaires.
“We have a little saying at Joplin High School our principal likes to use, “This is the best high school in the universe,” and we like to show it at competitions! Coming from a Southwest Missouri choir, it can be somewhat difficult to branch ourselves out to a wider bracket because of transportation expenses and lodging so we have a tendency to stick to competitions in our immediate area. Because of this, we see and compete against the same choirs every week. In this way, we are very connected in Southwest Missouri to our other choirs and only want to maintain those wonderful connections.”
Joplin show choirs, with the help of the leadership team and directors have begun to address the concerns of no traditional classroom school for the remainder of the year. Nice work to all those involved.