Like many great ideas, CARMEN started in a college dorm room. At The Ohio State University in the fall of 2007, this freshman was challenged by a fellow former showchoir member to come up with the ideal competition scoresheet. Not knowing where this would take him, he accepted the proposal and got to work.
Over the next several weeks, the list of categories and captions grew. Once the list was complete, the two of them decided that they had the perfect set of criteria to evaluate the best showchoirs in the world. The next step was to create a system to calculate competition results that was better, faster, and more efficient than the rest.
Beginning with just a simple spreadsheet, the two of them spent hours formulating the perfect set up. After making adjustments here and there over long nights of staring at the computer screen, they were confident they had devised the perfect system for showchoir competitions. They were ready to put it to the test, but they needed a name.
Inspired by a background in music and linguistics, they decided to name their new scoring system after the Latin word for ‘song, tune, charm’: CARMEN.
A few weeks later, they got a call from ARTS in West Virginia asking if they would like to bring CARMEN to their 2009 competition. Ecstatic, both of them agreed that this could be their chance.
They went down to the hills of West Virginia to show the world what they had to offer. The judges, directors, parents, and students were thrilled with the Revolution in showchoir scoring that the two teenagers from Ohio brought. It just so happened that one of the judges was the director of Fairfield High School in Ohio, Jeff Clark.
Mr. Clark was so impressed with the new system that he invited CARMEN to the 2009 Fairfield Crystal Classic, the largest regional competition in Ohio. They could hardly believe it! Naturally, they accepted the invitation.
The Crystal Classic was a huge hit! The CARMEN system proved to be so fast that the results were ready well before the staff were prepared for the awards ceremony. They were extremely proud of their accomplishments and decided that this is something worth pursuing. Little did they know, this was only the beginning.
Over the next few years, CARMEN added several more competitions, said goodbye to one of the founders, but welcomed a new member to the family. With his environmental conscience, he brought innovative ideas to the system: paperless scoring, digitization and automation, and a strong presence on social media.
With feedback from the showchoir community, they created an entirely new look and feel to the system. New ideas like collaborative digital interfaces and customized set ups changed the face of CARMEN. The system went from a spreadsheet to a full blown WebApp that made scoring and tabulation easier than ever.
Within no time, CARMEN grew from just 2 competitions per year to over 40 for the upcoming 2020 showchoir competition season. New members scattered around the country have joined the family, providing services to showchoir competitions in the East Coast, South, Midwest, and West Coast. Now, it is the preferred scoring system for the competitions all over the US. Needless to say, the family is growing quickly and the once little freshman couldn’t be more proud of what CARMEN is becoming.