An Active Army

Star Search

For as long as Nick George can remember, at least one person in his family was always practicing to participate in Star Search, the Salvation Army’s annual talent showcase.

“I remember tapping on a table as my brother John was performing a brass solo at Star Search,” says Nick. “Everyone turned around and whispered at me to stop. I didn’t understand; I was just really into the music!”

All the George family children have played a brass solo at Star Search. Sarah, Nick’s sister, has also participated in the dance, singing, and drama showcases. Nick’s drama experience has yielded slightly different results. 

“Three words into my drama monologue, I froze and forgot the rest of the line,” says Nick. “But, everyone was very supportive. They understood I was nervous, and a few minutes later, I was allowed to do the performance over again.”

“I’m not much of a drama person,” Nick admits. “But when I do a brass solo, I can let the instrument talk for me, instead of using my own voice.”

Nick also points out the importance of practicing for Star Search. At first, he resisted the practice schedules his siblings seemed to love, but nonetheless, putting in the practice hours has paid off.

“The confidence I built up at home during those practices helped me in front of a [Star Search] judge,” says Nick.

Nick’s father, Major Edgar George, administrator at the Army’s Boston Kroc Corps and Community Center, is also a brass player. He has seen his four children, and many other children from the corps, take part in Star Search.

He advises aspiring contestants, “Practicing your talents is important, but with them, you also need an outlet for those talents, whether it’s inside a church, doing a concert, or competing in front of judges,” says George. A week before Star Search, he and Major Barbara George (an accomplished vocalist herself) usually host a mini–concert featuring the corps kids scheduled to participate in the main event. On the Sunday following Star Search, a brass soloist or a drama student performs at the corps.

“The purpose of our talents is to honor the Lord,” says Major Ed George.

“You can look at Star Search as a competition, but The Salvation Army does not market it as that,” says Major Barbara George. “Star Search is a place of belonging. It’s an opportunity for talented children to meet others who are learning the same songs, and are putting in the same hours of practice.”

“More than anything, Star Search performers come back with encouragement. They, and everyone who saw them perform, know they’ve done their best,” says George.

by Hugo Bravo

What is Star Search?

The Salvation Army’s Star Search program is a talent display designed to encourage the development of soloists and groups in dance, vocals, drama, and instrumentation. It motivates performers to become their best and use these skills to bring a message and a blessing to all involved.

Star Search is an arena in which the participants learn to support each other. Regardless of the score a child or group may receive, they see and feel the positive support of peers, and are encouraged to continue to work hard and to develop their gifts.

In addition to the showcase, corps officers and instructors provide the performers with opportunities to share their abilities throughout the year.

Star Search participants learn that their self–worth is not dependent on a score in any contest. Rather, they learn to appreciate their progress and the work they’ve put in, the value of supporting their friends and peers, and to enjoy themselves throughout the process. Each person has something he or she can develop and give—as an offering to others and to God.

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