Trial by Choir

Common Sense Media says

Tough teens sing their hearts out.





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.

Parents 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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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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, okay 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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Adult Written bylilmizz April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Adult Written byrecordings19 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

MUCH better series than Brat Camp!

I strongly believe that Trial By Choir is better than Brat Camp, Higher Ground and many other teen-related reality shows... But that's MY opinion! Many teens can relate to the topics that are discussed in the show. The series covers issues that touch VERY close to home, as can I also relate. Series watchers crave for someone in the show to relate to... There is at least one teenager (if not more) that is in the series that the viewer can relate to. The adults in the show are trying to reach out to their teenagers... But most of them are resistant to that idea. Also- I think the adult leaders are going about the situation the wrong way. Tough love isn't always going to help to bring the teens closer to them as well as the other teens in the series. Broken hearts and dreams, all forms of abuse imaginable, school issues, trust problems, broken homes and other topics are keeping some of the teenagers distant from those who want to help them. Various issues are keeping teens from warming up to eachother. It keeps them even more distant from the adults that are trying to help them be their best. I really hope that the adults should try their hardest to come up with a plan that best helps their teens. Because I was in choir in high school, I can related to the emotions felt by both the adults and the teens. Adults want the choir to be its best. But all the young'ins take away from the situation is misunderstanding and anger. I have heard that in two sessions, the group will be close and the staff will be still pushing them away.. Not on purpose of course. The youth leader says that she can "relate" to what their teens are going through (as far as sruggles) so why isn't she trying to be more affectionate towards the crowd that she is supposed to "relate" to? I think that the youth leader should to try and understand her teens more, that will bring her close to them and same to them.
Teen, 14 years old Written by012angel April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

this is a wonderful show and one of my favorite

one of the cast members are so cute and i'm not naming any names but with everything aside the show has a lot of values and shows the real things that happen in the hood and shows what happen to some people


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