View Full Version : What kind of performance is typical for an elementary talent show?

04-24-2010, 10:45 AM
This weekend, I hit another "what the heck do real parents do?" scenario (my 11-year-old stepdaughter unexpectedly came to live with us a couple months ago).

They are having a talent show at her elementary school and she definitely wants to participate.

I asked her this morning about what she proposed for her "act" and have vetoed:

-saying something funny in a not-so-great Scottish accent
-playing "air trumpet"
-playing the guitar (she only knows one chord and produces it correctly with cringe-inducing effort about 20% of the time)

So what the heck do kids do in talent shows now? There are a couple of songs she could possibly sing correctly, but outside of that, I'm not sure what else she could do.

Rand Rover
04-24-2010, 10:59 AM
Here's a documentary on the subject: http://youtube.com/watch?v=CthB71GqYa0

Tess Trueheart
04-24-2010, 11:01 AM
I've mostly seen:
- solo or group singing to a karaoke track (if they are good)
- solo or group singing /dancing to the original track (with mics turned down or maybe not on at all)
- playing an instrument - maybe one kid and their tuba/guitar/whatever, maybe a little string quartet!
- solo or group dancing, from ballet to tap to choreographed pop to just goofing around
- (attempts at) juggling, ribbon twirling, hula-hooping, etc. Sometimes skilled, sometimes unskilled
- short skits (usually written by the kids or their teacher, but sometimes it's a famous bit)
- reciting a poem, or maybe just reading it dramatically
- things like playing "air" whatever and accents that your girl mentioned, but not too often

That's roughly in order of how much I've seen them, but obviously every school will be different. Some teachers only let in kids who show up with a karaoke track or an accompanist and can sing or dance well, others are realistic and let the kids do a bigger range of things, and still others don't hold auditions and say anything goes!

Does your stepdaughter know who is holding the auditions? Or if they have to audition at all? If it's run by her music teacher, it is more likely to be a little stricter. Still, she should have seen by now how her teacher's class generally operates.

I'm sure you know this, but as long as she does something that's not unsafe or mean-spirited, let her know you're proud of her. Even if she doesn't make it, she did well just to try!

I've spent a lot of time working with elementary-aged kids and seen a lot of school talent shows, and I guess it wasn't really that long ago that I was in those shows, too.

Good luck to her. :)

04-24-2010, 01:46 PM
In that age group, I've seen lots of lip sync/dancing to music (usually groups of 3 or 4 kids), short instrumental performances, 2 kids juggling to the background music of "Istanbul, Not Constantinople", magic tricks, short skits, a smoothie-making demonstration, joke telling, and break dancing.

Nefarious Chipmunk
04-24-2010, 03:26 PM
I would say that they talent shows I have seen are 40% lip-sync/dance, 20% skits, 20% kids just goofing around, and the other 20% something else with varying degrees of skill. I would say that typically only 1 or 2 acts seem like something that I would truly call above and beyond "normal middle school talent".

Now, this is my experience at a school that has no audition process (other then showing up and doing your act so you can show that it isn't obscene).

04-24-2010, 04:02 PM
I propose she do a gender-reversed cover/live action version of Bad Street, USA (http://youtube.com/watch?v=_uxGp-oJAGI).

Granted, none of her classmates will know recognize it, but some of the adults in the crowd might.

Also note that I have no children, terrible taste, and an odd sense of humor.

Left Hand of Dorkness
04-24-2010, 04:41 PM
I agree with what others said. My favorite act I've seen is a pair of brothers, first-grade and kindergarten, who had a comedy routine of telling each other dumb jokes. One of them forgot one of his lines, so the other one improv'd by falling over, successfully distracting the audience long enough for the first to get back on track.

04-24-2010, 04:48 PM
I don't recall any talent shows at my kids most recent elementary school (they're both now in middle school), but their school in Ohio had one. Most kids were pretty awful, but cute, and it was actually kind of fun to watch in an often unintentionally funny kind of way. This was only through 4th grade, so would probably be just younger than your stepdaughters grade (5th or 6th?). But I only remember this "show" because there was one 3rd or 4th grade kid who was absolutely amazing on the keyboard. It was almost a professional level performance, and then back to the bad lip synching, dances, etc. Oh, and there was one little girl with Down's Syndrome or similar that got up in a boa and sang her favorite song, completely out of key, but probably got the biggest applause of the show. You could tell it absolutely made her day and she had no fear whatsoever. In fact, it seems most of the kids were pretty fearless and totally unaware of their level of "talent".

Manda JO
04-24-2010, 11:06 PM
I wouldn't veto anything she wants to do just because she's bad at it. At this age, you really (IMHO), don't want to establish the idea that one can only participate in things you excel at.

04-24-2010, 11:37 PM
When I was a kid, my friend and I did a parody of a PBS interview show. I was a strange kid.

even sven
04-25-2010, 04:37 AM
I wouldn't veto anything she wants to do just because she's bad at it. At this age, you really (IMHO), don't want to establish the idea that one can only participate in things you excel at.

I agree. Why is this your problem? If she does something silly and embarrasses herself, she'll learn something about when it is and is not appropriate to not conform to social expectations. On the other hand, maybe she'll do something wacky and her friends will think it's great. Any 11 year old who wants to do "air trumpet" sounds like a fun and unique person whose sense of individuality should be treasured.

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