Trial by Choir TV Poster Image

Trial by Choir



Tough teens sing their hearts out.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The teens are trying to improve their situations and build positive lives. Mentors are trying to help them. All are flawed and touched by unfortunate circumstances.


No violence is shown, though there's plenty of talk about it. Several kids' parents were murdered. Teens talk about their violent neighborhoods. One teen brings a knife to choir practice.


Some scenes of teens hugging and kissing on the cheek. One brief scene of a girl massaging a boy on a bed. Some discussion of teens' sexuality.


Rough language, like "bitch," "suck," and "crap." Stronger words, like "s--t" and "f--k," are bleeped.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Discussion of drug and alcohol abuse. One mentor smokes, but it's not obvious.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary-like reality show focuses on at-risk teens trying to improve their lives. Descriptions of harsh living conditions and family strife -- including physical abuse, drug and alcohol use, foster care living, and teen homelessness -- are part of the package. Some episodes include intense emotional scenes, such as a visit to a church where murder victims are acknowledged, an event that brings most of the group to tears. A couple of the teens are gay, and there is some discussion of their sexuality. In one episode a girl straddles a boy on his back while giving him a massage. Teens and adults use strong language, some of which is bleeped.

Kids say

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What's the story?

In the moving documentary series TRIAL BY CHOIR, 24 at-risk teens join a chorus with the hopes of escaping their rough neighborhoods. Dedicated youth counselor Kate Benjamin and stern musical director Jerome Kyles mentor the students along the way and also learn some things themselves. The 10-week program includes three rehearsals per week in a church basement, as well as occasional social outings during which the teens grow closer to each other. During one-on-one interviews and visits to the teens' homes, the kids expose their vulnerability and share some of their hardships with viewers. One girl feels like singing is the only thing good in her life, while another vows not to go on welfare like her older sister; one student wrestles with his family legacy as he turns 17 -- the same age his father was when he died -- and another, whose parents' stints in prison and on drugs sent him and his siblings in separate directions, is now settling in to his recently reunited family.

Is it any good?


What makes Trial by Choir work is the teens' honesty and their heartbreaking circumstances. Mix that with a documentary style that echoes a reality show without feeling fake, and you've got compelling television.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the kids participating in the show. What compels these teens to join the choir? Why do they think singing can help their situations? Do you think the worst singers should be kicked out of the chorus? Why do some of the teens sabotage their own success? Are there other ways that at-risk teens can be helped?

TV details

Cast:Kate Benjamin
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of Trial by Choir was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 11 year old Written bybabes July 29, 2009


I thought that trial by choir was one of Americas most real reality show I've seen in years. I thought that both the Choir Director and Youth Counselor worked great together. Although their personalities "clashed", it is what made the show so real. Jerome's role was to see that the kids learn how to express their voices through music and Kate's role was to see that they express their emotions through talking out their problems instead of through violence. I disagree that a counselor should just listen without giving reactions to problems. Sure anyone can go to school and earn a " textbook" degree, yet, reality is living through hardships and teaching with what we know and not what we think we know. Kate may have used her own life experiences, but it's obvious that she knew how to help those kids and did a great job at doing so! Ya can only help those who want to be helped!!!! I would love to see the entire crew reunite and give America another great reality show.
Adult Written bylilmizz April 9, 2008
Adult Written byronmason1980 April 9, 2008

To Be OR Not To Be ... TO BE

The show truly is on point for great success, however (and this is a big HOWEVER) it seems that the American public has opted for something with a lot more graphic violence, language and nudity - which encompasses sexual activity. This is a show that is not shy about exposing the negativity so that a bright and promising "good" can be seen by all. Over the next couple of months we will be exposed to the very personal lives of young men and women. Reality? You bet! But I want to thank the producers of this show becuase it is a gleam of reality-good. This fight can truly produce victory and not defeat! STAY WITH IT! Ron, Sacramento


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