It may have been 7 in the morning on a Friday, but the energy level of the Marshall Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade show choir was high as it worked through the lyrics and choreography of a Lady Gaga number.
At Marshall Middle School, the number of students in show choir has flourished. Eighty-two are involved with show choir - 35 are in the sixth-grade show choir, the Marshall Dazzlers. The seventh- and eighth-grade show choir is known as the Marshall Momentum.
The Marshall Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade show choir strikes an ending pose to one of the songs in its routine.
The sixth-grade show choir rehearses on Thursdays, while the seventh- and eighth-graders work on their routine Wednesday and Friday mornings.
Marshall High School grad Nadia Christensen teaches music at the middle school and directs the show choirs. She said there were close to 70 in show choir last year, and when more than 80 signed up this year, she had to make a decision.
"Which is why I had to create the sixth-grade group," Christensen said.
Christensen said it's amazing to her how the middle school students have so much energy at an early hour.
"Attendance is usually pretty good," she said. "They're here and ready to go." She said that her students' singing has more energy as well when the dancing is included.
"Their whole face adds more excitement," Christensen said.
Besides the fun of singing and dancing,
students had a variety of reasons as to what brought them to show choir.
"I'm not very athletic, but (with) show choir, no one really judges you at all," said eighth-grader Madi Hess. "You have fun all the time."
"I watched my sister a long time, and it looked really fun," sixth-grader Olivia Sook said. Her older sister, Maddy, is a member of the high school show choir.
Sixth-grader Izach Harris said he wanted to try something new, while his classmate Ashtyn Eben said she'd see the high school show choir perform at different events.
It was the team-building aspect that drew eighth-grader Kevin Berg to show choir.
"Then I watched one of the (high school) performances, and I wanted to be in," he said.
"One of my friends pushed me (into it)," seventh-grader Lexie Dulas said. Seventh-grader Gideon Baumgarn said that a girl in his choir class just wouldn't be quiet about show choir.
And since sixth-graders don't have choir, and sixth-grader Ana Schwarz wanted to join a singing group of some type, she opted for show choir.
Hess said she took part in all the show choir youth camps the high school show choir put on, and her best friend is also in show choir. That's why she joined, she said.
Eighth-grader Kayli Ginocchio said the high school show choir performances "just blow you away."
"You don't know how good they are until you see them," she said.
This season, the sixth-graders are doing a mix of songs, including "Proud Mary," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "When You Believe," and "Footloose." The seventh- and eighth-grade show choir is performing Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory," along with "May It Be" and "Accidentally in Love." Christensen said song selection is based on the singers and who she has in the show choirs. For sixth-graders, she goes with two-part music.
"They can feel really successful when they sing and dance, (the songs are) repetitive, easy to dance to," Christensen said.
As for the older kids, she sees all of them in her choir classes, so she has them perform four-part music in show choir.
"I know their voices are trained," she said.
Show choir involves coming together for a common goal, to put on a good performance, the kids said.
"You learn to work with each other's strengths and weaknesses," Ginocchio said. She remembered the time when she just joined show choir and had the eighth-graders help her with the choreography.
Berg said show choir is like "one big family."
"The seventh-graders look up (to us) to help," Berg said.
The routine can get changed from time to time, the kids said.
"And even from week to week," Berg said, adding that the singers have to adapt.
"It's a lot of work memorizing the moves," Hess said. "But once it comes together, it's awesome, it's just amazing."
Sook said it's fun to perform in front of people.
"Nerve-wracking though," Harris said.
Dulas admits that she's shy when she sings, but she doesn't mind it when she's with the rest of the show choir.
Once you're out there onstage, the sixth-grade show choir members said, you just start singing.
"Let it loose," Harris said.
"When you get out there, after a while, you forget there's anyone out there," Eben said.
The students also said they don't mind the 7 a.m. rehearsals.
"I have to be up early every day for other activities," Berg said.
"(And) you wake up pretty fast," Ginocchio said.
Schwarz said she doesn't mind getting up at 6 a.m. to get to show choir rehearsal an hour later.
"Because when you see that final show, it's worth it, because you've done it all," Schwarz said.
"I look forward to doing it," Sook said, adding that she's dedicated to show choir.
"It's fun," Baumgarn said. "You get to sing and dance."
Competition season begins next month for the middle school show choirs. The sixth-grade show choir has only one competition as not many schools have just a sixth-grade show choir, Christensen said. The seventh- and eighth-grade show choir has two competitions - in Sioux Falls, S.D. and in Hinton, Iowa.
Even though people may judge you by your looks or how well you do at something, Ginocchio said, they like being in show choir.
"We don't care (what others think), we're doing it because we love to sing and love to dance," Ginocchio said.
Once you learn the songs and the choreography, show choir is fun, Dulas said.
"You get to put on your show choir 'face' when you go on stage," Dulas said.