Show Choir: Enhancing Singing through Movement

November 15, 2007

Charlene Dalrymple
photo #169; stevemarselstudio.com

Often a controversial topic among choral purists, show choir has been steadily gaining popularity across the country as a viable outlet for musical and artistic creativity. Charlene Dalrymple of Oliver Ames (N. Easton, Mass.) High School caught the bug at an early age and is now in her third decade of promoting the art form through her ensembles’ performances and a festival she founded, The Bay State Show Choir Festival, now in its 23rd year.

Ms. Dalrymple’s students’ accomplishments in high school Grand Champions at the FAME show choir national festival in San Antonio last spring and well beyond she has former students in the Metropolitan Opera, national touring musicals, and even two who are now teachers that assist the Oliver Ames Music Department underscore the merits of her efforts. In a recent CD interview, Charlene speaks of what she has done to bring show choir to the northeast, and how she thinks her students benefit from their participation in her program.

Choral Director: How did you get your start, musically?
Charlene Dalrymple: I always sang when I was little. My mom and dad bought me one of those toy organs, which I played all the time. I sang in the church choir and was active singing in school. Later on, I participated in all of the singing opportunities that I could at Gardner (Mass.) High School.

CD: Did they have a strong choral program there?
CD: In terms of how we would describe a strong program now, no, they didn’t. Until my junior year, we only met at night, once a week. It was not part of the curricular program. Still, we performed pretty good literature. The director was very interested in musical theater his theatrical productions were always very good so, as a result, I always participated in those. I was very active in everything we did in the music department.

Though the choral program was extracurricular, I was also a part of the select choir, so I’d go twice a week, one evening to the mixed choir and another for the select group.

CD: When did you make the leap to deciding you wanted to teach music?
CD: That’s interesting. I was going to be a Phys. Ed. teacher my freshman and sophomore years in high school, until I started getting involved in the musical productions and the choir. I changed my mind my junior year, when I finally got a real piano at my house. At that point, I started studying music more seriously, with the intent of going on to college to pursue that.

I went to UMass Lowell (then called Lowell State College), where I studied voice and Music Ed. For two years, I taught general music in elementary school kindergarten through fifth grade in Plymouth (Mass.). After that, I taught for five years at Silver Lake (Mass.), and then, through Proposition 2

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