Akron show choir receives awards

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Mark Yankovitz, Continuity Editor

As the music swells, additional dancers rush the stage. Synchronizing and coordinating with each other, the performers move to the beat of the music. Everything builds to a final note that leaves the audience shell-shocked.

The ETC School of Musical Arts provides music education and performance training for students from elementary school through high school. Members prepare a show that they will perform at competitions, incorporating singing and dancing in a comprehensive extravaganza. Ultimately, ETC serves as a community for talented performers throughout Northeast Ohio. Sophomore Kyle Fink, a member of ETC since his eighth grade year, described the core of the program.

“ETC is a show choir in Akron for kids whose schools don’t have show choirs [based out of their high schools]. We sing, dance and perform at a bunch of competitions and showcases in Ohio and neighboring states,” Fink said.

These competitions require the combined efforts of everyone in ETC, from performers to the backstage crew. Fink attested to the breadth of it all.

“A lot goes into a performance. Our [backstage] crew puts up risers and our set and makes sure that mics work. Our band tunes their instruments and makes sure that everything sounds okay. The performers set their second costumes off stage to change into halfway through the performance. Once all of the prep work is done, everyone gives it their all until the performance is over.” Fink said.

Students in the program travel extensively to attend these competitions. Tara Scott, parent of sophomores Julia and Ryan Scott and ETC board member, coordinates the traveling schedule when the choir competes. Scott indicated her role.

“I make the travel arrangements since we actually go out of town to compete . . . there’s not a lot of them that are local,” Scott said.

ETC has multiple divisions for different age groups: New Generation, Main Street Singers, Rouge and All-Americans. New Generation and Main Street cover elementary schools and middle schools respectively across Akron. Rouge, the all-female group, includes students from ninth to twelfth grade. The All-Americans also includes students in high school but has both male and female members.

Students rehearse as such in preparation for competitions against other ETC choirs from parts of Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia. Lilly Oldham, a part of ETC for the past eight years, explained how competitions work.

“You all have your time slots . . . and you compete. There [are] six slots to go to the finals, and if you get high enough scores you move on; then you perform again, and they announce the winners in a huge ceremony,” Oldham said.

Whether or not a choir moves on depends completely on scoring higher than the other choirs there, so every performance must surpass the bar set by the other choirs; these competitions can extend past midnight as choirs combat each other. According to Scott, succeeding in a competition requires more than just a high score.

“We’re not competing for a rating, we’re competing to be the best out of the people that are there,” Scott said.

In order to succeed in competition, the ETC program conducts a stringent audition schedule for its All-American and Rouge groups. Auditions divide into two days to cover both singing and dancing according to Oldham.

“You go for two days. One day is with a group of people and you have to learn a dance and dance it in front of the directors . . . . and then [on day two] you get to choose a time slot and pick your own song to sing to audition with,” Oldham said.

Students who succeed in the auditions need to have the versatility to sing multiple genres. ETC shows incorporate multiple genres into a performance, as indicated by Oldham.

“There’s a wide variety [of songs]. Our competition set has five or six songs in it, depending on how it’s been set up by the director and the choreographer . . . . Sometimes we do pop songs, like last year we did something from Panic! at the Disco. Otherwise it just depends,” Oldham said.

The difficulty and pressure that comes with a performance group such as the ETC School of Musical Arts can easily cripple participants, yet the young performers manage to come out on the stage with a smile that stays with them even after they have performed. Fink explained why he enjoys show choir so much.

“My friends, the competitions, and the community are all awesome. I think that the friends I’ve made from ETC are going to be friends I have for life. Everybody is so supportive and kind. It’s a completely different atmosphere from high school . . . . There’s nothing quite like the rush of going on stage and leaving everything out there,” Fink said.

The ETC program allows students to not only exercise their talents when singing and dancing, but also form a community around a shared, invigorating experience.

ETC of Akron attended a competition in Riverside, West Virginia on January 27 and won multiple awards, including best vocals, best choreography, best costumes and the overall first place award out of ten different groups. Next, ETC will attend a competition in Medina on February 17.