NHS show choirs open up about what makes them so successful


Photo by NHSCPO

Singers performing at the Fishers show choir competition. The groups theme for their set is ‘The Wedding Singer.’

     Sensation, New Dimension, and Singers. All three are NHS show choirs, and all three are distinctly different. But three things unite them: passion, dedication, and John Neubauer. Neubauer, who has been teaching music for twenty nine years, has been working at NHS for the past three. Since then, all three choirs have won multiple competitions. Last year, Singers, the only co-ed show choir at NHS, had the opportunity to compete at the national level in Nashville, Tennessee at the Grand Ole Opry. With practices during class and after school, dedication and passion are both necessary in order to have success. Behind every performance are students who put in hours of work, and they are the ones who make the shows truly come to life.

Staying driven

     All passions have a beginning, and they are all driven by some sort of purpose. Senior Kearns Nelson, who’s been in Singers since his freshman year, found his drive for show choir in his friends.

     “I love performing. I didn’t know how much of a passion I would have for it when I first started. I do it for me and my best friends,” Nelson said. “I stay dedicated by forcing myself to go to rehearsal [and] actively pursuing the passion.”

     In doing this, Nelson has found the energy to do the same show, time and time again and be just as passionate as the first run through.

     “Coming up on state, in rehearsal, we usually run the entire show nonstop two or three times per rehearsal full out with the band. It’s not easy to perform one full show full out, much less three in a row,” Nelson said. “In competition, [it’s easy]. The energy of the stage and the crowd radiates to the performers. At [competitions], it’s like performing a new show every time.”

     Rosie Allenson, a sophmore in Singers, has been able to find her own joy in the sets each year and the people she is able to work with.

     “Last year’s New Dimension set was all about feminism and confidence and it really did make me feel more confident about myself,” Allenson said. “This year our theme is ‘The Wedding Singer,’ and every time I perform that set I am so tired but I’m so happy.”

     Allenson started out in the all girls varsity group, New Dimension, last year as a freshman.

     “[Dancing and singing] are scientifically proven to release a hormone in your brain that does the same thing as drugs do.  It makes you super, super happy, and it makes you feel super good,” Allenson said. “When I’m on that stage performing with my best friends, I am high on show choir.”

Make it happen

    Neubauer, who has worked with six previous show choirs, sees how far they’ve progressed since he first became their director.

    “They were already good, they just didn’t have any direction. It was just about adding discipline to the situation,” Neubauer said.

    Though there’s been much debate on whether or not show choir should be considered a sport, one thing that cannot be denied is the amount of effort from each performer is as much as any athlete.

    “Sweat and tears are in that room nearly every rehearsal,” Nelson said.

    The dedication that all of his students put forward each competition is not lost on Neubauer.

    “I know that kids have definitely gone on performances [while they were sick] that they’ve definitely would’ve taken off school [for],” Neubauer said. “But, you know, if you work from August to February on something, if you can get yourself out of bed, you’re probably gonna try to go.”

    But then, as with any thing you truly love, the joy of being a part of it will often win over the hardships. For junior Ella Williams, the creative outlet New Dimension gives her is the best part of choir.

    “It’s just a space where everyone just works as a team and everyone supports you no matter what, and you can express yourself through song and dance,” Williams said.

    Being in New Dimension has led Williams to learn new singing skills along with new friendships.

    “[New Dimension] has made me a better performer and helped me work on singing techniques,” Williams said. “I have made some really good friends through being in show choir.”


    Avery Troxel, a freshman in the junior-varsity group Sensation, has discovered the hard work that it takes to make it in a high school show choirs has its benefits.

    “For Sensation, we have practices every Monday for two hours, as well as class time. At each practice and class, we are all expected to fully participate and give 100%,” Troxel said.

    Besides the amount of time that goes into practicing their sets, another key factor to their success as a show choir is adapting to feedback.

    “At the competition on February 23, we performed, received some suggestions, and then changed part of our set due to the suggestions,” Troxel said.

    Being a member of Sensation has taught Troxel patience and perseverance. Besides growing as a person, she has also created new friendships.  

    “Show choir is special because of the unique individuals in the choir, and the relationships that you’ll make,” Troxel said.

    Unique is certainly an accurate word for show choir, and Neubauer has been able to see a wide variety of choirs: from choirs of twenty four people in an extremely low income community, to big city choirs with untapped potential, to NHS, which has grown immensely in the three years that Neubauer has taught here.

    “There’s a lot of very talented groups, but if you aren’t on the same page, it’s not gonna work on the stage. I think you have to just gauge when it’s good to add a lot of intensity,” Neubauer said. “Or maybe there’s a moment that they just need to breathe. It’s reading the situation, looking at deadlines, reading personalities.”

Neubauer Power

    Neubauer’s own dedication to each of the show choirs provides a steady foundation for the students to stand on. Nelson, who has been in Singers since before Neubauer came to NHS, has seen first hand what an influence that Neubauer has had on the groups.

    “Freshman year, we only made finals at one of three competitions. When Neubauer came in sophomore year, we got 5th at state. His second year, he took us to nationals,” Nelson said.

    Neubauer has not only changed the entire choir program, but also the mindsets of his students.

    “He has made us believe in ourselves and he has made the show choir what it is today,” Allenson said. “He not only puts so much faith in us, but he hires amazing choreographers and clinicians. He also just encourages us to believe in ourselves. He has taken the program from the bottom to the top. ”

    Sometimes, what makes you shine is also the most challenging aspect. For Nelson, his peers are often this aspect.

    “You spend so much time with other people in show choir that you get tired of ‘em,” Nelson said. “But at the end of the day, all the people work just as hard as everyone else. They’re family.”

    Through all of the hours of work and struggles, NHS’s show choirs have still been able to pull through, gaining a reputation on their way.

    “You are only as strong as your weakest link,” Nelson said. “ If our weakest link is absent and doesn’t know the changes to the show that we make in rehearsal, then we will be embarrassed when comp season comes. We don’t want that.”

     Neubauer says he has seen the show choirs success affect not only its students, but their success has also rubbed off on NHS’s name.

    “I think that now that we’re at the point that Noblesville is probably considering themselves to be a traditionally strong group. People take a lot of pride in that,” Neubauer said.

    Beyond their existing success, hope and excitement shines through, and all of the show choirs expect to continue performing show after show with the backing of their director and the companionship of their friends.

    “[Neubauer]  has turned nothing into something,” Nelson said. “He’s given us hope for success, as well as the success. He turned us into a winning choir.”