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Effects of group singing and performance for marginalized and middle-class singers

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Abstract

In western society music performance is generally considered from the perspective of the elite performer, and the performance literature within the psychology of music has been representative of this preoccupation. But, in spite of much attention being directed to the 'how' of creating exceptional performances, little attention has been given to the 'why' of performance. Results of an investigation with members of a choir for homeless men indicated that group singing and performance, at the most amateur levels of musicality, yielded considerable emotional, social and cognitive benefits. The present article further explores the effects of group singing and performance with (a) a second choir formed for homeless and other marginalized individuals who had little or no music training or group singing experience, and (b) middle-class singers with low to high levels of music training and choral singing experience. Results indicate that the emotional effects of participation in group singing are similar regardless of training or socioeconomic status, but the interpersonal and cognitive components of the choral experience have different meanings for the marginalized and middle-class singers. Whereas the marginalized individuals appear to embrace all aspects of the group singing experience, the middle-class choristers are inhibited by prevalent social expectations of musicianship. The outcomes may be of relevance to music educators, therapists and choral conductors who wish to create a choral environment in which the benefits of singing and performance override elitist concerns. Copyright
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Psychology of Music
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DOI: 10.1177/0305735605053734
2005 33: 269Psychology of Music
Betty A. Bailey and Jane W. Davidson
singers
Effects of group singing and performance for marginalized and middle-class
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Effects of group singing and
performance for marginalized
and middle-class singers
269
ARTICLE
Psychology of Music
Psychology of Music
Copyright © 
Society for Education, Music
and Psychology Research
vol (): ‒[-
() :; ‒]
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www.sagepublications.com
BETTY A. BAILEY
DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD, UK
JANE W. DAVIDSON
DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD, UK
ABSTRACT In western society music performance is generally considered from
the perspective of the elite performer, and the performance literature within the
psychology of music has been representative of this preoccupation. But, in spite
of much attention being directed to the ‘how’ of creating exceptional
performances, little attention has been given to the ‘why’ of performance. Results
of an investigation with members of a choir for homeless men indicated that
group singing and performance, at the most amateur levels of musicality, yielded
considerable emotional, social and cognitive benefits. The present article further
explores the effects of group singing and performance with (a) a second choir
formed for homeless and other marginalized individuals who had little or no
music training or group singing experience, and (b) middle-class singers with low
to high levels of music training and choral singing experience. Results indicate
that the emotional effects of participation in group singing are similar regardless
of training or socioeconomic status, but the interpersonal and cognitive
components of the choral experience have different meanings for the
marginalized and middle-class singers. Whereas the marginalized individuals
appear to embrace all aspects of the group singing experience, the middle-class
choristers are inhibited by prevalent social expectations of musicianship. The
outcomes may be of relevance to music educators, therapists and choral
conductors who wish to create a choral environment in which the benefits of
singing and performance override elitist concerns.
KEYWORDS: choirs, cognitive stimulation, emotional, homeless, musical elitism, social
Introduction
THE ELITIST MODEL OF PERFORMANCE
In western culture performers of music often are well trained, well rehearsed,
and required to execute their craft with technical precision and creativity. The
level of excellence that has come to be expected has functioned to expose the
sempre
:
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masses to many exceptional recorded and live performances. In addition,
technological progress has dramatically increased opportunities to listen to
and experience music (Hargreaves et al., 2002; Storr, 1992) and ‘in spite of
dire warnings that recordings might empty opera houses and concert halls,
the audience for live performances has also multiplied’ in the West (Storr,
1992: ix). The expert model of performance and increased accessibility to
outstanding musical performances have contributed to the creation of a
musical climate in which the majority of the population have been relegated
to ‘procurers’ rather than ‘producers’ of music. Indeed, Storr (1992) reports
that there has been a decline in ‘domestic music making’ (p. 108), and Bunt
(1994) and Papousek (1996) have found that the outstanding quality of
much recorded music actually inhibits adults from singing to children.
Writing about the decline of music making in western culture, Blacking
(1973) suggests that ‘technological development brings about a degree of
social exclusion: being a passive audience is the price that some pay for
membership in a superior society whose superiority is sustained by the
technical ability of a chosen few’ (p. 34). In this vein, Small (1998) poignantly
states:
Our present day concert life whether ‘classical’ or ‘popular,’ in which the
‘talented’ few are empowered to produce music for the ‘untalented’ majority, is
based on a falsehood. It means that our powers of music making for ourselves
have been hijacked and the majority of people robbed of the musicality that is
theirs by right of birth . . . (p. 8)
In line with the expert and elitist model of musicality, much of the litera-
ture in the psychology of music that pertains to performance focuses on
issues which are pertinent and critical to professional performers in the
western art tradition. Some of these issues include: the physiology of the voice
structure (cf. Bunch, 1995; Sundberg, 1987); techniques of execution that
are considered necessary to produce outstanding performances (cf. Bunch,
1995; Kagen, 1960); and overcoming performance anxiety (cf. Watson and
Valentine, 1987; Wilson, 1997). Sundberg (1987) states that research which
has concentrated on the singing voice has tended to be specific to operatic
singing, and Bunch (1995) confirms that, conventionally, the singer’s focus
has been ‘the voice rather than the actual effect it was having’ (p. 150).
Similarly, Small (1998) reports that performance-directed literature concen-
trates on the presentation of the music rather than the meaning that is
generated through participation in performance.
Despite the dedication required to perfect technical skills (Manturzewska,
1990) and the anxiety that is often associated with performance (Clark and
Agras, 1991; Steptoe, 1989), there seems to be no lack of individuals willing
to expose themselves to the rigorous regime of training, and the possibility of
performance-related stress, to participate at the most elite levels. For example,
at the Juilliard School of the Performing Arts and the Eastman School of
Music the acceptance rates are approximately 8 percent and 12.5 percent
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respectively, indicating the difference between the number of students who
apply to these very competitive institutions and the number who are chosen
to attend. Even though many musicians aspire to become elite performers,
the questions of ‘why’ musicians choose to perform or ‘what’ psychological or
physiological benefits may be derived from performance have generally been
neglected in the academic literature.
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF PERFORMING
Vocal soloists, in both the classical and popular domains (cf. Davidson, 2002;
Parton, 1994; Robinson, 1989; Söderström, 1979), and professional choris-
ters (Beck et al., 2000), have reported that performing for an audience is
often a profound experience which produces positive emotional effects. Also,
performance in rock bands (Cohen, 1991) has been found to facilitate
increased self-esteem and more extroverted social behaviours. Additionally, a
recent body of evidence has been developing which demonstrates the overall
or holistic health benefits of both professional and amateur group music
activities. Beck et al. (2000) reported results from the implementation of a
Likert-type Singers Emotional Response Scale (SEES) with members of a pro-
fessional chorale which indicated that group singing had positive emotional,
social, physical and creative outcomes. Similarly, from results of a self-report
questionnaire and a survey with a university choral society, Clift and Hancox
(2001) found that members perceived that choral singing was conducive to
emotional, social, spiritual and physical health. In interviews with performers
attending the 2001 Buxton Gilbert and Sullivan (G & S) Festival, Pitts (2004)
explored how performers explicate and demonstrate their musical identity
within a group activity. Results suggested that the social and musical compo-
nents contributed equally to individuals’ commitment to, and enjoyment of,
membership in their G & S Societies. The musical and acting components
provided challenge, achievement and the opportunity to escape, for a time,
the frustrations of everyday realities, and the social component provided
friendship in an environment of shared interest.
Contemporary physiological studies have also advanced understanding of
the effects of choral performance through the measurement of secretory
immunoglobulin A and cortisol levels of professional (Beck et al., 2000) and
amateur (Kreutz et al., 2004) choristers before and after singing. Secretory
immunoglobulin A (sIgA) is an endocrine defence against bacterial infection
in the upper respiratory tract and cortisol is a measure of stress. Generally,
increases in levels of sIgA and decreases in levels of cortisol are considered
favourable. In both the above studies there was a significant increase in sIgA
between the before and after group singing conditions. Additionally, in the
Kreutz et al. study, in a pre and post group listening condition, sIgA did not
decrease significantly. However, the effects on cortisol were less clear. In the
Beck et al. study, cortisol significantly decreased during practices but not
during a performance, and in the Kreutz et al. study, cortisol decreased
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significantly between pre and post passive group listening but not between a
pre and post group singing condition. Although differences in the effects of
cortisol were found for the professional and amateur singers, the similarity in
the increase in sIgA levels for both groups suggests that active participation
in group singing may enhance immune system functioning.
While the studies cited in this section provide important information
relating to the effects of both solo and group music participation and
performance, the question of how level of expertise may affect the group
performance experience has not been addressed.
Effects of group singing for homeless men
In an attempt to understand more clearly the effects of participation in
choral performance for individuals with low levels of music training, Bailey
and Davidson (2002, 2003) explored the effects of group singing with mem-
bers of a choir for homeless men. The only prerequisite for choir membership
was being or having been homeless. While all of the choristers appeared to
have experienced positive life changes since joining the choir (for example,
when the choir started only one of the choir members was in permanent
housing and at the time of the interviews all of them were in permanent
housing), only 7 of the 17 available members of the total of 19 members of
the choir agreed to be interviewed. Several determents including (a) shyness,
(b) distrust of the process, and (c) mental illness seemed to contribute to the
low participation rate. Of the seven choir members who participated in the
interviews, none had formal music lessons in childhood, one had been a
member of a boys’ choir for several years, one had played in a rock band in
his late teens and early 20s, and one had a few years of voice and xylophone
lessons in his adult years while he was a member of a band in the Canadian
Armed Forces. The results of an emergent theme analysis of a semi-
structured interview with members of the Homeless Choir suggested that the
choristers perceived that participation in group singing had adaptive charac-
teristics that were found to fall within four primary categories:
clinical-type or therapeutic benefits;
benefits related to group process;
benefits attributable to choir/audience reciprocity; and
benefits derived from mental stimulation.
However, this was a small sample and there was a concern that the success of
the choir, and the positive effects accredited to membership in the choir, may
have been the result of some extra-musical element which was specific to this
particular group. For example, the director was very religious and devoted
much of his life to the Homeless Choir. Perhaps the success of the choir was
principally a result of the specific characteristics of the director.
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A SECOND CANADIAN CHOIR FOR HOMELESS AND MARGINALIZED SINGERS
Since that initial study in amateur group singing, an opportunity arose to
conduct a second study with members of another choir formed for street
people and people living in impoverished circumstances. However, there were
a number of notable differences between the two choirs:
1. The first choir (Choir 1) was located in the French province of Quebec,
Canada and all of the participants were native French speakers. The sec-
ond choir (Choir 2) was in a predominantly English Canadian province,
Nova Scotia, and all the participants were native English speakers. These
two Canadian provinces are culturally distinct and the repertoires of the
two choirs mirrored the cultural distinctness of each province.
2. Choir 1 was specifically for men, but Choir 2 had both male and female
participants.
3. Although the director of Choir 1 had worked with homeless people for
many years, he had no personal experience with drug and alcohol abuse,
whereas, the director of Choir 2 had experienced addiction problems that
were similar to many of his choir members.
4. Choir 1 was comprised of people who lived or had lived on the streets.
Although Choir 2 was formed for people living in destitute circumstances,
some of the members of the choir were workers and volunteers at the hous-
ing support centre which sponsors the choir, and people from the wider
community who were interested in the project. For example, a professional
guitarist attended practices and performances when he was available.
5. Quite a number of the members of Choir 1 were very comfortable per-
forming for an audience; they seemed to come alive in the performance
arena in a way that might be expected from professionals. However, Choir
2, perhaps partially as a result of the type and severity of the mental
illnesses of some of the members, was a less flamboyant group. Although
these individuals enjoyed their performance activities, they were more
reticent than Choir 1 in the public environment.
6. The sponsoring agencies of the two choirs were also very different. Choir
1 was sponsored by a Catholic mission for men and there was frequent
contact between the Catholic sisters who managed the mission and the
choir members and their director. Choir 2 was sponsored by a secular
charitable agency.
Considering these substantial differences, it seemed reasonable to speculate
that if the emergent themes indicated with Choir 1 were based on some extra-
musical element that was choir specific, then the cultural, gender, director,
membership, performance style and sponsorship differences between the two
choirs might result in quite different perceptions of the choral experience
from the participants in Choir 2. However, if the results were similar, the
notion of group singing as a holistically beneficial activity, even at the most
amateur levels of participation, would be strengthened.
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METHOD
Participants
The participants were 8 of the approximately 25 members of the Nova Scotia
Choir (Choir 2). Although, as mentioned earlier, people from various back-
grounds participate in the choir, for the purposes of the study, we interviewed
only the eight individuals for whom the choir was originally formed, that is,
those living on the streets or in extremely impoverished environments. The
ages of the participants ranged from 43 to 64 years (M = 51.5 years). Of the
eight participants, four were diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, four
were chronic substance abusers, and two had been previously incarcerated
for acts of violence. Only one of the participants had completed high school
and one had acquired a high school equivalency certificate while in prison.
All but one of the participants currently or previously lived on the streets.
Most of the participants recalled singing in the early school years, but only
one had formal music lessons on the piano.
The choir members were contacted through correspondence with the
housing support centre which sponsors the choir. A worker at the centre
spoke with the choir members at one of their practices and asked them if they
would like to be interviewed for a study on singing. The interviews were
scheduled for two days and those interested were asked to come to the centre,
which services impoverished people seeking living accommodation, during
those two days. The patrons refer to this dilapidated building as the ‘Coffee
House’ because hot beverages and day-old doughnuts (donated by a fast-food
restaurant) are given free to those who gather there. The Coffee House is in
the centre of an area of the city normally occupied by prostitutes, pimps and
drug dealers. In order to develop a comfortable level of rapport, the inter-
viewer arrived early each morning and chatted informally with members of
the choir before beginning the interviews. Of the eight participants, one
came directly from having spent the night on the street, three lived in slum
housing which lacked the most basic comforts, and the remaining four lived
in subsidized housing. One choir member recounted that because he did not
have a lock on his door, he was harassed by drug dealers who let themselves
into his room when he received his welfare cheque. But even though these
people were living in extremely deprived circumstances, they were cheerful
and amicable. Each participant was asked to sign a consent form requesting
permission to use the information contained in the interview for purposes of
publication in the academic forum. The contents of the consent form, which
explained the nature of the study and the participant’s right to discontinue at
any time, were read to each participant before the interview began. The choir
members were assured that their names and other identifying information
would remain confidential, and, therefore, all names which appear in this
document are pseudonyms.
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Procedure
The investigation utilized the outline of the semi-structured interview (see
Appendix) which had been developed for our study with Choir 1 (Bailey and
Davidson, 2002, 2003). The employment of this procedure was based on
research conducted by Smith (1992, 1999) in which he explored the identity
shift experienced by pregnant women as they approached motherhood.
Similar to Smith, we were interested in the transitional process from the per-
spective of the participants. The goals, therefore, were to explore (a) changes
which had occurred since joining the choir, and (b) participants’ perceptions
of the catalyst/s which may have prompted change. To obtain a profile of the
life of each participant, and to determine the impact of choir membership,
the interview focused on the following topics:
1. early life, family, school and previous musical involvement;
2. education and employment, and the circumstances that led to extreme
poverty and/or the descent into homelessness;
3. the decision to join the choir and the choristers’ first impressions of the
choir;
4. the choristers’ perceptions of the experience of singing; and
5. the progression of the success of the choir and resulting personal
changes.
However, the purpose of the semi-structured interview is to provide the par-
ticipant with the flexibility to explore freely the aspects of the experience
which they believe are most important. Therefore, in this study with Choir 2,
and as had been the case with Choir 1, the interviewer did not rigidly adhere
to the outline of the interview. The participants had control over the direction
of the conversation and the interviewer interjected, throughout the natural
flow of the discourse, questions related to the topics of interest. The employ-
ment of this semi-structured procedure facilitates differentiation of degrees of
interest in, and meaning of, the experience for each participant.
Each interview lasted approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and was tape-
recorded with the permission of the participant. The interviews were
transcribed verbatim. The resulting transcripts were analyzed according to
the principles of interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) as discussed in
Smith (1992, 1995, 1996). Smith (1996) submits that because verbal narra-
tives are not always exact representations of inner thoughts, the role of the
phenomenologist is to discern, from the content of the interviews, the mean-
ing of the experience for each participant. To achieve this goal, each inter-
view was carefully scrutinized by the authors and excerpts related to the
areas of interest were recorded. After the eight interviews had been dealt
with in this way, all the excerpts were classified thematically. At this stage of
the analysis there was a fairly large number of themes, but eventually subor-
dinate themes were subsumed within superordinate categories. For example,
the importance of self-expression, increase in self-esteem and catharsis of
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suppressed emotions were initially classified as superordinate themes, but
eventually these three themes were classified under the superordinate category
identified as clinical-type benefits. This process continued until the authors
were satisfied that the content and meaning of the interviews were authenti-
cally represented. As with the results from Choir 1, the emergent themes
were validated by an independent auditor who examined the data for other
possible interpretations. Given the auditor’s high level of agreement with the
authors’ analysis, the thematic categories presented here are considered to be
reasonably appropriate categorizations of the data.
Presentation of the interview material
In order to present the interview material as clearly and concisely as possible,
a documentation key was developed. Pauses which occurred in the tran-
scripts while the participants were deliberating on their replies were indicated
by two dots (..). Word repetitions which occurred while the participants were
searching for the correct word sometimes resulted in rather cumbersome sen-
tences. To simplify these awkward sentences, repetitions were omitted and
replaced with three dots (...); when these omissions occurred at the end of a
sentence four dots were used (....). Sentences or parts of sentences that were
superfluous or redundant were omitted and replaced by square parentheses
[ ]. Occasionally it was necessary to clarify the meaning of a sentence; clarifi-
cations appear (in italics inside parentheses). These documentation techniques
did not alter the meaning of the material.
RESULTS
As with Choir 1 (French Choir)
1
, the choristers in Choir 2 (English Choir)
discussed adaptive characteristics of participation in group singing that
appeared to be attributable to (a) clinical-type benefits, (b) benefits of group
process, and (c) benefits related to choir/audience reciprocity. However, the
perceived benefits of the cognitive component of group singing were less
salient than was indicated with Choir 1, but several comments alluded to the
importance of this theme. Following are some of the statements illustrating
the emergent themes which reflect the choristers’ perceptions of the group
singing experience. Because of the robust similarity in the outcomes from
Choir 1 and Choir 2, and to present the findings in an easily accessible
format, comparisons of comments from each choir are summarized in tables
(see columns 1 and 2 in Tables 1–4). Each row within a table contains inter-
view excerpts with similar meanings; the rows are labelled accordingly.
2
Clinical-type benefits
Comparable to Choir 1, the clinical-type or therapeutic outcomes of choir
participation appeared to be related primarily to the act of singing. For exam-
ple, group singing seemed to facilitate emotional balance:
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Carl: Just let it all out (through singing), frustrations, anger and all that, you know,
stress.
Carl: It gives me some relief from my trouble because it makes me feel deep inside.
Joan: It’s such a joy; I forget all my problems.
Kent: Like it calms you down and it mellows a person out and it makes them feel
content.
In addition, it appeared that singing in the choir provided opportunities to
experience heightened arousal which allowed some of the choristers to
escape, at least temporarily, the harsh realities of poverty and the often fright-
ening existence of living with mental illness:
Carl: After the music (singing with the choir) I feel that high towards myself.
Joan: When I sing with them it’s almost like a high. (and later) I have something to
look forward to every week, the music.
Choral participation also provided some of the choir members with a feeling
of purpose and a reason to make positive changes in their lives:
Dan: Helped me to stop drinking, get off the welfare and be off the street.
Joan: The choir had about 70 to 75 percent of me being determined and able to lose
it (weight) easier, you know, I belong somewhere, like they’ve accepted me.
Effects of group process
Although feelings of belonging are commonplace in the lives of many people,
they are a rarity for individuals who exist in marginalized circumstances
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). Carl explicitly describes the social deprivation of
the homeless condition in the following excerpt from his interview:
Carl: It’s a tough existence, and it’s hard out there you know ... homeless is some-
thing like, uh, like, uh, they feel neglected, don’t have anybody to talk to, so
they take the abuse of substance. They try to, what I feel is, try to kill the pain
of being homeless. (and a bit later) Well, it’s ... their sickness (mental illness), I
mean that’s the illness that they have ... and the illness is the substance that
they take, that’s the illness ... that’s what’s killing them.
Belonging to a group appears to provide these homeless and marginalized
individuals with a social support system. The camaraderie experienced in the
choir setting results in social encounters which are indicative of relationships
and feelings normally experienced with family and friends:
Carl: They’re part of me and I’m part of them.
Dan: Well I tell you, I miss them when I’m not here.
Joan: These guys accepted me.
Philip: Just being with the people (choir members), sitting down and sometimes having
a pizza together. (and later) It’s a great experience for me, it keeps me humble.
And I’m accepted, it’s not what’s your background or, you know, it’s just great
for me, we keep it simple; the choir has been there many, many times, emotion-
ally for me.
In addition to the social interaction that takes place within the choir, the
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278 Psychology of Music 33(3)
TABLE 1 Perceived clinical-type benefits from participation in group singing
Choir 1 (marginalized) Choir 2 (marginalized) Focus group (middle-class)
Introspection Henri: I used to be a bum, a little bit bum, Dan: Helped me to stop drinking, get off Jill: There is always discovery, you know,
you know, I changed a lot, I quit smoking the welfare and be off the street ... I’ve discovery within yourself, and discovery of
... and drinking, I quit altogether, you had no encouragement to go and do any yourself, but discovery of somebody else
know, that’s something, you know, ’cause I drinking, ’cause I’m like with the choir also ..., discovery of the people that are
drink all my life, I smoke all my life, ever and here (at the support centre). This has singing with you, you know, because you
since I was 13 years old. helped me that way because other than get a perception of them too.
that I’d be off, you know, in the tavern.
Heightened arousal Louis: Usually we sing at night, I’m so Carl: Well, it’s a natural high, it’s a high Angie: I love it, I absolutely come home
high because of having singing, I’m on a like for myself, but not just for myself for totally wound up and wired and love it,
trip. It’s a drug for me, it’s a real drug, a the other choir members too. love it. (and later) I’m usually exhausted at
natural drug. the end of a good rehearsal, at the same
time so high that I can’t go to bed.
Emotional release Raoul: (I have found) a way out of my Kent: I think when you sing along (in Sue: I feel incredible when I hear real
and homeostasis traumas. Because if you always live in the practice) it helps you, like, it calms you harmony, I mean total harmony, because it
past it’s not good. Some of us are so down, and it mellows a person out, and it brings tears to my eyes to, just to, I don’t
uncomfortable, we talk about this one and makes them feel content, more know, it just kind of makes me feel in awe
that one and we never talk about the real contented. If you sing along with the that there is that kind of beauty and it just
thing, you know. music, you’re getting right into the music. blows me away.
Jean: (Singing in the choir) It’s a new start, Carl: Oh yes, indeed, indeed I get that Ruth: It’s always been something that I’ve
so I forget everything, if someone told me, inspiration, uh, you know, just let it all done for myself, it’s something that, um,
uh, you’re wrong, you’re blah, blah, blah. out, frustrations, anger, and all that, you I’m not helping somebody else with
I’m deaf ... I can’t hear you ... you can’t know stress ... through the music. After something, or working or whatever, it’s
attack me, because (through singing) I’m the music I, I feel that high, that high been something for me and that’s
immunated against your blah, blah, blahs. towards myself. (and later) Yeh, it gives important for your sanity.
me some relief from my trouble, because
it makes me feel deep inside.
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Bailey and Davidson: Effects of group singing and performance 279
Patrice: Now we have more children (choir Philip: It’s very important that people be Sue: Music (singing) can make me feel good
members) that are more in ... harmony ... in allowed to express themselves. and can raise my mood, it can make me
the choir and we can now express the child, relax or it can make me feel confident, uh,
the child itself can now be a creative child. and it’s a huge part of me.
Physical reactions Raoul: These days, I suffer from arthritis in Joan: Well, I hurt physically a lot, right, Roy: I can go in tired and feel energized but
the knees, but the minute the music starts, but I seen myself thinking I was going to come out being exhausted as well. I have
I don’t feel my arthritis any more. be late (for practice) and I RAN because exerted myself an awful lot, there is
it’s such a joy, it’s a, it’s a hard, it’s hard physical labour involved. The other
to, I can’t (very emotional here). physical reaction would be gushes so
strong that it will literally raise hair and
cause close to watering of eyes.
Enjoyment Henri: I would practise eight hours a day I Joan: I don’t think it’s long enough Roy: It’s (singing) one of the most
like it so much, so when there’s no practice actually, I think we should have longer important parts of my life, and each week I
I don’t feel good ... I’m not the only one, we practice periods, you know, like, it’s look forward to Monday and Wednesday
need it now, it’s nuts, you know, we need it. something I look forward to every week. nights (choir practices).
(after practice she thinks) ‘Damn, I wish
we could sing some more’ ... I always ask,
you know, ‘Could we just do one more?’
... like, you know, it’s fun.
Increased Simon: So far, music has greatly helped me Joan: I forget all my problems when I go Angie: It hugely enhances life! While I
life-satisfaction socially, emotionally, and it also has opened to choir practice. have the opportunity and the energy, et
many doors. There are several in the choir, cetera, it will be a big part of my life. I have
at least five, six or seven, who have to tell you a little story. I went to see the
succeeded in their lives because of the doctor because my goitre is kind of large,
music. So people are changing their lives and the surgeon drew a very detailed
around because of the choir; it is giving diagram about goitres and was warning
people hope and happiness. me about surgery, because if you happen
to nick, it’s connected to your vocal chords,
[ ], so I just thought, ‘If you nick it you
might as well just slice my throat, because
it won’t be worth waking up if I can’t sing.
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280 Psychology of Music 33(3)
TABLE 2 Effects of group process from participation in group singing
Choir 1 (marginalized) Choir 2 (marginalized) Focus group (middle-class)
Affiliation Louis: Yeh, yeh ... but we get along, like, uh, Frank: Oh, they’re marvellous (the choir Roy: Fellowship, and I like the kind of
I can tell Patrice I want to punch him, but members); we have wonderful friendly banter that we do behind the
he knows about it, it’s not true, I just want camaraderie. See, without it you can’t do scenes.
to joke and we got along, it helps to relax. Oh anything, you have to have that, it’s
yeh, I like that, uh, gang. compulsory, I’ll put it that way, yes siree.
Jean: So, I have to rebuild my own thoughts, Carl: Participating with the other Sue: For me, being part of the group is
you have to work all together now ... and members, it’s not just a thrill for me, but good when the music comes together and
it’s easier that way, when you abandon for us all, to participate. And not just it’s done right, and, you know, it sounds
everything. OK I’m free .... I’ll join you, I’ll listen to myself, but listen to other people good because it brings, or at least our
go with you, I’ll sing along with you, I’ll as we sing. I’ve become closer because, uh, group, it brought our group together when
have fun with you, and we’re going to share it’s like they’re a part of me and I’m a part we were in sync.
trouble with you. of them, and that’s the biggest part of all.
Raoul: I had a brother-in-law and I thought Dan: Oh most everybody’s friendly, there’s Gwen: Well, it’s a positive thing to be part
he was very sick (mentally ill). But, you see, no one that hates each other. Oh it’s one of a group and that you’re all focused on
there are 19 of us here who are like that, big family. Oh you have a heck of a time the same thing and all interested in the
and we’re not in the asylum .... We’ve made together. same thing.
it. Now you take a guy out of the Choir, and
the next day he’ll be terribly depressed.
Philip: The choir, we’re a group of people
who are all struggling to make it in this
world ..., who have a lot of issues. Some of
us are mental health consumers, some
serious mental health issues, we, uh, some
are only a week away from their next
drunk, some only one cheque away from
the street. Do you follow me? All these
things come together in the choir, you know.
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Bailey and Davidson: Effects of group singing and performance 281
Acceptance Raoul: So, this shyness stayed with me all Joan: But these guys (the choir) accepted
my life, and the choir and this place (the me, like, I don’t really have a family, you
mission) are the only things that seem to know, like to talk with, right, but they
accept me, and want to do something good accepted me and it’s great.
for all of us here.
Respect Bernard: But our choir is special, you know. Joan: In this choir everybody’s down to
The people ... they are my friends and I earth, they’re all down to earth and, uh,
respect them. you’ve got to have respect if you’re going
to get respect, you know.
Andrea: The choir makes me feel more
wanted, around folks who are just, just as
good, and I’m just as good.
The musical product Daphne: I don’t think I went into the group
needing the group as much as my own
experience with music and singing.
Angie: Well my experience is that it’s great
to be part of a group and having experienced
different groups I find that some groups
are more musical than others, and since I
can’t control who’s in the group ... it’s
important for me to be as musical and as
beautifully musical as I can be.
Claire: It’s really exciting when the whole
group begins to sing and breathe as one
instrument.
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importance of social interaction with the larger society was expressed in
many of the interviews.
Effects of choir/audience reciprocity
The daily experiences of many marginalized individuals make them feel that
they are disdained by the populace. Yet, many street people have a desire to
connect with the larger society and, as Carl indicates, something as simple as
a smile from a passer-by can send a message of acceptance:
Carl: Well, you know, I don’t object to anybody as they approach me, and I just
figure if they give me a smile, I say, ‘That’s good.
The performance aspect of choral participation appears to create a com-
fortable distance from which the marginalized choristers can begin to develop
a relationship with the public and demonstrate that they are more than their
dishevelled appearance might suggest:
Carl: Reaching out to people and letting them know what I am.
Philip: Singing is a way of sharing, you know, yourself with other people. (and later)
and eye contact ... now I can look around when I sing, you know, I don’t have
to be ashamed.
Participating in concerts, especially when proceeds are used to assist other
marginalized persons, allows some individuals to experience the sense that
they are making a contribution:
Andrea: Crowds are around us and then too they’re getting some, they’re getting
some interest out of it too.
Dan: We’re doing it to help the people and that’s worth just as much as money to
us.
An additional reward of the group singing experience was the feeling of
pride which resulted from performing for the public, as well as from making
and selling a CD:
Andrea: I’m proud of what I sing.
Carl: I thank God and the rest of the choir members for putting something together
and making the CD disk which is the best thing that’s ever happened in my
life.
Frank: And, our conductor, he wrote the song himself, right, and when I first tack-
led it, it was kind of hard to get the key right, I didn’t know which key he
wanted, you know high or low, slow or fast. Once I got the hang of it, it
turned out all right then.
Dan: You’ll notice on the back (of the CD cover) all the occupants that are there,
their name’s listed. So if you hear a song on the CD you know who it is
singing, you know who it is .... Oh yeh, yeh, I couldn’t believe when I heard
the first, the day that they cut the first record, the first CD, and like there’s a
silence in between each piece like, and when I heard it I couldn’t believe it,
when the guy took the CD out of the machine and handed it to me, I was
shaking so much I couldn’t hold it, I dropped it on the floor (laughs), oh yeh.
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Bailey and Davidson: Effects of group singing and performance 283
TABLE
3 Effects of choir/audience reciprocity from participation in group singing
Choir 1 (marginalized) Choir 2 (marginalized) Focus group (middle-class)
Connection to Patrice: I always believed in the choir and I Carl: It’s changed my life ... and it’s like Sue: I prefer totally the performance to the
larger community always believed that it’s a kind of a mission reaching out to people and letting them practice ... I was just happy to get out there
[ ] that we have .. some kind of a social know what each individual song means ... and show what we did to the audience, and
mission ... people listen to us .... The songs in some ways people could take the songs one of the best things for me is knowing
that we .. sing and the, the words, the defensively ... we sing about prostitution, that the audience loved our performance
message that we .. are carrying .. in the homeless, and the abuse of alcohol and and they understood what you were trying
song .. has a large effect. drugs and all that. to get across.
Raoul: Because when I sing, it’s a very Carl: And reaching out to people letting
powerful thing and a profound feeling. I them know what I am, who I really am
have the sense that I’m touching the people and what I can do and can’t do.
with my voice.
Louis: What we represent of people, of hope, Joan: I mean, like, I’m in a group, but
of love also, I think we exchange with when I sing with them, like, it’s almost like
people, it’s magic ... what we feel inside a high, like the night of the CD release ... I
when we have all those people in front of us was flying ... I had such adrenalin going
listening, it’s great, it’s like a dream for me. through me ... I was just going, like I was
high or something like that, you know. It
was all because of the choir and the
people (audience).
Sharing Jean: All the love [ ] we receive from there we Philip: Oh yeh, yeh, (singing) it’s a whole
will bring it with us for another place, and different process, I mean being an addict
we are sharing that love with someone else, ..., I’m very withdrawn, addicts like go into,
that’s the most important thing. we listen to music but it’s more a selfish
thing, it’s more, it’s not sharing, there’s no
sharing in addiction, nothing, it’s dead. You
can be married, you can be single, whatever,
there’s no sharing. So singing is a way of
sharing, you know, your self with other
people. That’s a big part for me.
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284 Psychology of Music 33(3)
TABLE 3 continued
Choir 1 (marginalized) Choir 2 (marginalized) Focus group (middle-class)
Sharing (cont.) Henri: When you sing in front of the public Andrea: When you get to do that Gwen: It’s good to be able to give what you
you tend to express something, you know, performance well you got to put your have learned, that’s the thing that I find
you make them feel something, you want to whole meaning to it, put your full thought about performing.
give something that you have, you know, like to it and it will come out alright.
... it is kind of a relationship with the people.
Recognition Bernard: When we first sing and the people, Carl: I get a lot of recognition for it ..., it Sue: In general the most positive thing for
uh, applause or encourage us. I was so makes me feel good because, as I said, you me ... is feeling great about being able to
happy, I feel so good inside, oh, it’s good, I know, they see you on TV, see you in the sing, and when your audience recognizes it
want to keep, to keep singing, I follow the paper, gees, you feel famous. I’m planning and afterward they will come up and say
group .... (And later) Oh I feel so great, so to stay as long as I can, I enjoy it very what a great job you did, or you have a nice
happy, after the people who come and oh ‘it much. voice, and being able to get the actual
was good’, ‘oh thank you’, ‘it was nice’, courage to get up and do that in front of a
‘keep it’, ‘we like what you do’. lot of people.
Contribution Bernard: The choir gives me lots of joy, Dan: I don’t care if we get paid or not, I’d
because I give, .. I give to the others, I try to play anyway, ’cause we’re doing it to help
sing to tell them you have a chance, .. there the people and that’s worth just as much
is hope for you and when I give joy to the as money to us. We don’t really put no
people I feel happy, I feel good because I charge on anybody. If people wanted a CD,
gave to them. I mean, we accept whatever they give us
for it.
Fear of musical Simon: When I joined the choir, I sang like Angie: The most negative aspect of singing
inadequacy a pig, I didn’t sing very well. I sang very low in a choral group is when you don’t feel
so that nobody would hear me. that you are prepared for the performance.
Ruth: I don’t like to think of them out
there, I don’t like to think that anybody’s
hearing me, I would rather be in the
shower (laughs).
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Bailey and Davidson: Effects of group singing and performance 285
Jill: To sing within a group is a confidence
building aspect in that you’re not so exposed.
Sue: There’s always the being disgusted
with myself if I screw up and other people
hear that. I feel like when people tell me I
can sing really good, it’s like they’re just
saying it.
Minimal importance Claire: I don’t find that the audience
of audience relationship is particularly important. I
have been in choirs where nobody came
and it didn’t really matter, if the music was
good it didn’t matter.
Jill: Rehearsal is better than performance
because if there is a negative audience
reaction, or no audience reaction or no
audience, well then you feel like there is a
let-downness then because, not from your
point of view so much, but there is a certain
feeling that they are missing out, a sorrow
really that all those people are missing out
on a glorious experience.
Roy: The audience is very secondary,
almost you’re alone.
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286 Psychology of Music 33(3)
TABLE 4 Effects of cognitive stimulation from participation in group singing
Choir 1 (marginalized) Choir 2 (marginalized) Focus group (middle-class)
Mental engagement Henri: It is very strange, but uh every one of Phillip: The choir has their 10 cents Angie: A constant alertness and mental
through active them .. even though that they’re not singing worth about how we’re going to do a energy especially when we are diving into
participation good has something special, they could be particular song, we cut it apart, we’re new stuff the whole time.
a very good .. performer and a lot of things doing one now, the Beatles’ Song, She Loves
like a joke or movements and dance ... uh, You, anyways, and the choir’s looking at
everyone has something special. different angles of doing that, and we talk
about that, so we have people who not so
long ago were dying emotionally and here
we are talking about work.
Patrice: Not just listening to music, which Angie: I have to tell you that given the
is very good, but doing music, oh what a choice to go and sit and listen to a piece or
difference, what a great difference it is, go and be a part of producing it, I would
thanks god. And then I feel I participate in rather be on the stage than in the audience.
something, my whole body participates in Doing the music is what it’s about.
something, I feel that you create something.
Importance of Patrice: I often say, it’s as a free singing Philip: We have solos where people are Ruth: The most positive aspect of singing
learning course I’m taking now, it’s a free music encouraged, (our director) takes a month in choir was just how much music I
course that I’m having, that I’m taking with at a time from his own place on weekends leaned, I sang in three (choirs), and, also,
the choir, and I’m learning a lot of things to help people come along and sing a solo, just what I leaned about music as well
also in doing music, in doing something I you ought to see the change in the person, because I feel now that even though I don’t
like. I feel that you create something, we you ought to see the change in a person have a music degree or anything like that,
create some harmonies, develop a good ear, being encouraged. that I can speak quite well about both
we learn what harmony is and we try things; choral and orchestral music and it helps
some things are absolutely no good, OK, we me appreciate it more too, just listening to
won’t do it again. And this creativity, this it, having some knowledge.
is really good for, for your self-esteem.
Louis: For myself I have learned a lot of Angie: I’m learning to sight read more now
things in the art of singing. than when I first started.
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Bailey and Davidson: Effects of group singing and performance 287
Simon: We have at least 50 songs. And right Jill: If the choir’s good and the director’s
now we’re learning some new ones, we’re good and everybody’s focused then it can
slowly changing the repertoire. By next be a learning experience.
spring or the first part of next summer, our
entire repertoire will have been changed.
We’re learning new songs each week. (Later
he comments) When you like to sing, it’s very
easy to learn a song by heart. It can take at
the most two weeks. We have sheets with
the music and the words and we practise at
home.
Mental challenge Raoul: He (his friend in the choir) taught me Angie: The exposure to beautiful music has
the notes, I learned the piano, the flute and been really, really exciting for me, the joy of
the bass. Each day he taught me something learning the stuff and the challenge.
different. They (guest directors) show me how Reading it the first time through, you think
to sing and how to control my voice, sing ‘Man I will never get this’, and then it
high, sing low, etc; there is so much to learn develops into this gorgeous sound. Also
in the music field, it is so vast. our director does spend time sort of
explaining the music, how the themes
move through, and it really does broaden
one’s appreciation for music.
Roy: Discovering that I can do something
that I didn’t expect I could do, um there’s a
joy in hearing just nice sounds, and uh
there’s a sense of achievement of hitting
something right every now and again ...
the challenge, the learning reward.
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TABLE 4 continued
Choir 1 (marginalized) Choir 2 (marginalized) Focus group (middle-class)
Mental challenge Claire: The things (choral experiences) that I
(cont.) have enjoyed the most were in larger choirs
with really professional conductors
experiencing classical works, that’s what
I’ve loved the most .... When the music is
worth doing and everybody’s pulling
together it’s uplifting for everyone.
Ruth: Having a mental challenge was very
important as well as developing as a
musician.
Sue: Being able to learn a musical and
remember every word and every line of
every one else makes me feel good.
Gwen: I like the challenge of more difficult
selections and expansion of my mind.
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Finally, the public performance arena provides a platform to instruct the
larger society about the world of poverty and homelessness:
Philip: If we’re singing to a group of people who are obviously affluent, middle class,
you know, I damn well want them to realize what we are singing about some-
times .... I’m going to put an emphasis on certain words, so, you know, it’s
important to me, but it doesn’t take away from the fun of it either, there’s a
balance, you know what I mean, there’s a balance.
Carl: We want to sing to people to let them know that there are a lot of messages.
As Theo, a social worker who works and sings with the choir, suggests:
Theo: It (singing in the choir) moves from a kind of personal, spiritual thing, into
people challenging the perspectives that have led them into their position,
and challenging the stereotypes around poverty and homelessness. So
people, interestingly, become a political movement with a small p, it’s a way
about making a statement about something’s wrong with our society. So we
can have fun, we can sing spiritually, we can sing about maritime things and
we can also sing about the major concerns that we have about things.
Effects of cognitive stimulation
As mentioned earlier, the perceived benefits of cognitive stimulation were not
mentioned as frequently by members of Choir 2 as by members of Choir 1,
but one chorister in Choir 2 did allude to the benefits of mental absorption:
Philip: The choir has their 10 cents worth about how we’re going to do a particular
song, we cut it apart, we’re doing one now, the Beatles’ Song, She Loves You,
anyways, and the choir’s looking at different angles of doing that, and we
talk about that, so we have people who not so long ago were dying emotion-
ally and here we are talking about work.
The social worker mentioned earlier also discussed the importance of the
learning component of participating in the choir:
Theo: So there has been a huge growth in our own learning and our own ability,
which has been fantastic, and, again, it’s a very shared experience that we
are constantly learning off each other, and having a number of people
involved from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences both
personally and musically makes for an intriguing mix. There are always
things to be learnt.
DISCUSSION
The results of the investigation with Choir 2 reinforced the emotional, social
and cognitive benefits of participation in group singing found in our earlier
study (Bailey and Davidson, 2002), and strengthened the notion that the
positive rewards of group singing and performance are independent of
formal training or ability. However, the unique circumstances of these two
choirs caused us to consider if the importance of participating in a publicly
recognized activity may have had more powerful or distinct consequences for
the marginalized singers than would be found with amateur group singers
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who are entrenched in mainstream society. To investigate this question,
middle-class singers from diverse choral groups and backgrounds were asked
to participate in a focus group to discuss the effects of choral singing.
Effects of group singing and performance for middle-class
singers
METHOD
Participants
The participants were one male and seven females from a variety of choral
groups (church choir; large community choir with a classical repertoire;
small community choir which sings popular, folk and ethnic music; musical
theatre chorus; director-selected vocal ensemble) with a wide range of music
training and choral singing experience. Two individuals from each group
were asked to participate in a study on choral singing, but two individuals
cancelled and replacements could not be found on short notice; therefore,
there was only one member from the vocal ensemble and one member from the
church choir. Of the participants, two had no formal music lessons, one was a
music specialist, and one had 15 years of lessons (11 instrumental, 4 voice).
The remaining four participants had seven, six, four, and two years of music
training which was predominantly instrumental (M = 4.8). The participants
had from one to 30 years (M = 12.8) of choral singing experience. The ages
of the subjects ranged from 24 to 59 years (M = 47.8). All the participants
considered themselves to be middle class. It was hoped that if group type
and/or level of training were important factors in the effect of the choral
experience, the diversity in the types of choirs and different levels of training
represented in this sample would reflect the influence of these factors.
Procedure
Because we had identified several specific areas of interest from the results of
the interviews with Choirs 1 and 2 which we wanted to compare with the
perceptions of middle-class choristers, we decided to change the method from
using semi-structured interviews to a focus group. The procedure for the
investigation was based on the format for focus groups described in Krueger
(1988). Krueger advises that the focus group should embody 6 to 12 homo-
geneous participants who have an interest or stake in the topic of investiga-
tion, and the organization of the focus group should encourage discussion in
a supportive environment which is seen to be tolerant of divergent ideas sur-
rounding the issue. He suggests that to encourage individual expression, the
interviewer should begin with a statement which resembles the following:
There are no right or wrong answers, but rather differing points of view. Please
share your point of view even if it differs from what others have said. We are
just as interested in negative comments as positive comments, and at times the
negative comments are most useful. (p. 25)
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The format for focus groups suggested by Krueger was adhered to as closely
as possible. The procedures for procuring consent and the presentation of the
interview material which had been used in the study with Choir 2 were used
again in the focus group investigation.
The agenda for the focus group was based primarily on information accu-
mulated from Choirs 1 and 2; however, the participants in the focus group
had no knowledge of the information collected in the two previous studies. In
order to avoid individual opinions being unduly influenced by those of other
participants, the participants were asked to write brief notes about each topic
before it was discussed with the group. To begin, participants were asked to
reflect on their most positive and negative memories with respect to their
choral singing experiences and to write down key words or phrases (on a
form provided for this purpose) which best described these experiences. Each
participant was then asked to share their personal experiences with the
group. After each individual had revealed their personal perceptions, time
was allocated for group discussion. Second, participants were given a form
containing the following seven headings:
1. emotional responses to choral singing;
2. physical responses to choral singing;
3. group process;
4. performer/audience relationship;
5. mental stimulation;
6. your singing voice; and
7. how your singing experience is affected by the choral conductor.
Under each heading the participants again were asked to write key words or
phrases reflecting their personal choral singing experiences related to each
heading. After the focus group members individually reported what they had
written under a particular heading, time was allocated for group discussion
of that topic. The entire focus group session was audio recorded. The approxi-
mately 3.5-hour tape-recording was transcribed verbatim. The transcript
and the written materials from the participants were carefully reviewed and
compared with the transcripts from Choirs 1 and 2.
RESULTS FROM THE FOCUS GROUP AND COMPARISONS WITH CHOIRS 1
AND
2
As previously, in order to facilitate cross choir comparisons some of the com-
ments from the choristers are presented in Tables 1–4 and similar ideas are
contained within rows. Overall, the results from the focus group members
were consistent within the group suggesting that there were no substantial
differences based on training or choir type.
Clinical-type benefits
With regard to the emotional effects of group singing, there was substantial
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uniformity in the perceptions of the three groups of singers. As with Choirs 1
and 2, the focus group members discussed very strong emotional responses
which emanated from their choral singing experiences:
Jill: There is always discovery (while singing), you know, discovery within yourself
... but discovery of somebody else also.
Ruth: I feel totally at peace (while singing), um, just the sounds of the harmonies, the
sounds of the music altogether, not just listening to me and hating me or
whatever, but the whole thing, it’s just a great feeling to hear it together like
that.
Sue: Music (choral singing) can make me feel good and can raise my mood, it can
make me relax or it can make me feel confident, uh, and it’s a huge part of me.
The singing process seems to foster emotional health by creating an atmos-
phere which induces introspection, catharsis, relaxation and/or increased
energy, and improved mood (see also Table 1, column 3). As with Choirs 1
and 2, there was evidence that singing produces an altered or transcendent-
like state which some singers have referred to as the ‘singers’ high’.
Alice: I love it (choral singing), I absolutely come home totally wound up and wired
and love it, love it.
Roy: (Choral singing causes) gushes so strong that it actually raises hair and close to
watering of eyes.
Sue: It just kind of makes me feel in awe that there is that kind of beauty and it just
blows me away.
Effects of group process
For the participants in Choirs 1 and 2, merely belonging to a group was a
very important aspect of choir membership. There were strong indications of
caring and concern for one other, and pleasure in just being together (Table
2, columns 1 and 2). Some focus group participants also acknowledged the
importance of fellowship:
Gwen: Positive thoughts (about singing in a choir), I say fellowship, that’s most
important to me.
Jill: The joy (of practice) is because you got the fellowship, whereas, that’s taken
away in a performance.
However, for these middle-class participants the more important aspect of
group singing is the creation of a worthwhile musical product:
Claire: It’s really exciting when the whole group begins to sing and breathe as one
instrument.
Gwen: Well, it’s a positive thing to be part of a group and that you’re all focused on
the same thing and all interested in the same thing .. when the music is worth
doing and everybody’s pulling together, it’s uplifting for everyone.
Jill: You’re travelling the same road together for a common goal, a common
purpose and I find this very fulfilling.
Sue: For me being part of the group is good when the music comes together and it’s
done right and you know it sounds good.
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Another important aspect of the group experience for the focus group
participants is that it provides a safe haven in which to experience the singing
voice while concealing one’s individual sound within the confines of the
group. In the focus group discussion there were a number of comments
which affirmed feelings of insecurity and apprehension about revealing the
singing voice in a public setting:
Angie: I have moved from being terrified of my own voice to being a lot more
comfortable with it, but it’s not credited to choral singing, it’s credited to
having some voice lessons.
Gwen: I feel it’s (my voice) terrible but I enjoy it anyway, I really am improving I’m
told. My voice coach tells me that, that I was terrible, so now I’m better.
Jill: To sing within a group is a confidence building aspect in that you’re not so
exposed.
Roy: I’m relieved I can coat-tail on other people, uh, not be exposed.
Ruth: I had a fear of making mistakes and I didn’t want my voice to be heard.
Sue: There’s always the being disgusted with myself if I screw up and other people
hear that. I feel, like, when people tell me I can sing really good, it’s like
they’re just saying it.
By contrast, several choristers in Choir 1 acknowledged that some members
of the choir were not accomplished singers, but only one participant in
Choirs 1and 2 indicated that he felt any misgivings about revealing his voice,
and this was only when he first joined the choir:
Simon (Choir 1): When I joined the choir, I sang like a pig, I didn’t sing very well. I
sang very low so that nobody would hear me. And slowly, very
slowly, the music entered my soul.
Effects of choir/audience reciprocity
For Choirs 1 and 2, performing for an audience was a very gratifying compo-
nent of the choral singing experience (Table 3, columns 1 and 2). Considering
that the members of the focus group are more concerned with the quality of
the musical product than those in Choirs 1 and 2, it might be expected that
performing for an audience may be a primary motivational factor for these
individuals. However, this notion was not supported in our findings.
Although two of the focus group participants had positive reactions to public
performance (Table 3, column 3), the more general consensus was that the
audience was not an integral component of participating in a choir:
Angie: The joy of learning the music is foremost, the performance is bonus.
Claire: I don’t find that the audience relationship is particularly important. [ ] I have
been in choirs where nobody came and it didn’t really matter, if the music
was good it didn’t matter.
Roy: The audience is very secondary, almost you’re alone.
Ruth: I don’t like to think of them (audience) out there, I don’t like to think that
anybody’s hearing me, I would rather be in the shower.
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Effects of cognitive stimulation
For Choir 1, the mental stimulation which occurred as part of the learning
process was an important component of the overall experience. With Choir 2
this theme was less obvious, but one participant discussed how the behaviour
of members of the group changed when they were mentally engaged in
deciding how various selections of music should be performed. People were
able to contribute significantly to the decision-making process when they had
something relevant on which to focus (Table 4, column 2).
In the focus group the importance of the cognitive component is reaffirmed
and many of the comments mirror those of Choir 1 (Table 4, column 3), but
there is some differentiation in how the mental stimulation comes to be real-
ized. With Choirs 1 and 2, the main objective of the formation of these choirs
was to provide the marginalized individuals with opportunities for fun and
fellowship. The cognitive component was a positive, but unanticipated, by-
product of the experience. Learning and practising music helped to lift the
participants out of the lethargy created by homelessness and unemployment.
However, the middle-class participants have many choices in how they
explore and express their creative and cognitive potential and, as a result,
they can be more discriminating in how they choose to fill their leisure hours.
As was found with members of Choirs 1 and 2, the members of the focus
group sing for the enjoyment it provides, but they also seek choral experi-
ences that will challenge their ability, improve their musical skill set, and
increase their level of musical knowledge.
Angie: Love the challenge, um I’m learning to sight read more now than when I first
started. (and later) the joy of learning the stuff and the challenge. Reading it
the first time through you think, ‘Man I will never get this’, and then it
develops into this gorgeous sound.
Jill: If the choir’s good and the director’s good and everybody’s focused then it
can be a learning experience.
Gwen: I like the challenge of more difficult selections.
Roy: There’s a sense of achievement of hitting something right every now and
again [ ] the challenge, the learning reward.
Ruth: Having mental challenge was very important, as well as developing as a
musician.
Sue: Being able to learn a musical and remember every word and every line of
every one else makes me feel good.
DISCUSSION
The elitist perspective of the western art music tradition is based on the
notion that successful singing requires special talent and extensive training
(Bunch, 1995; Sundberg, 1987). Bunch (1995) conveys this point of view in
the opening page of Dynamics of the Singing Voice: ‘the universality of the
human voice as an instrument is its greatest joy and its major disadvantage.
Almost everyone can sing and make acceptable vocal sounds, however few
people become true artists’ (p. 1). It appears that the middle-class singers are
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vulnerable to this socially prevalent elitist view, and even though they come
from more privileged socioeconomic, educational and musical environments
than their homeless and marginalized counterparts, they are less confident
about the sound quality of their vocal instrument. Perhaps the social isola-
tion of the marginalized singers frees them from elitist expectations, as they
appear to have an innocent confidence that an appreciative audience (as
evidenced by attendance and applause) is an indication of a deserving
performance:
Dan: There were 954 people and we played in front of them, and we didn’t have
any problem whatsoever, not even one mistake. I sat at my drums and the
choir started and the first three-quarters of an hour we did 26 or 27 songs.
And the thing was that, after we played for half an hour, we couldn’t get off
the stage, there was standing ovations, we had trouble to get out of there.
However, it must be mentioned that the middle-class singers were generally
more mentally healthy than the participants in Choirs 1 and 2, and, conse-
quently, they may have more realistic attitudes regarding societal expecta-
tions. Conversely, the participants suffering with paranoid schizophrenia,
especially when they are not taking their medication, may be somewhat
distanced from reality. The issue of awareness was mentioned by Philip:
Philip (Choir 2): We have fun singing, but some of us have a different awareness
than others, and not all might have the same awareness, or not
awareness, but sense that I have of the reason or why of the choir,
you know what I mean.
But, in spite of a life of poverty, illness and hardship, Joan was aware of the
distinction between her choir and more mainstream choirs. The following
comment illustrates her cognizance of the prevalence of western cultural
ideology:
Joan (Choir 2): Different friends of mine, when I told them I was in the choir, they
said, ‘IN A CHOIR’ (indicated that they were surprised). Like my sister,
she doesn’t think she believes in God or something like that, thinks
it’s, you know, holy songs and that, songs that you hear in church
all the time, like a choir represents people usually with their long
gowns and that, but this choir everybody’s down to earth, they’re
all down to earth.
Joan believes that her choir is different because it is not pretentious.
Nonetheless, an additional point that must be considered is that an audience
may be less forgiving with a mainstream choir than with a choir of marginal-
ized singers, and, therefore, society’s expectations of middle-class singers may
restrict their freedom to sing without the fear of audience dissatisfaction.
The importance of the social component of participating and performing
with a choir was more intense with members in Choirs 1 and 2. Participation
in an organized group provided these choristers with the structure and stabil-
ity which, generally, have been unavailable to them because of mental illness,
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drug abuse and poverty. In the familial surroundings of the practice room,
and in the festive atmosphere that often follows performances, the choir
members have the opportunity to engage in social interactions which are
uncommon to the most marginalized (cf. Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Rossi,
1989; Wright, 1989). Simple comforts, such as sharing a conversation or a
pizza, are symbols of normalcy and acceptance to those who struggle to find
the necessities for basic survival. In an interesting contrast, the communal
aspect of the group singing experience is only marginally important for the
eight middle-class participants. It is likely that the social needs of the more
advantaged individuals are provided through encounters with partners,
children, friends and co-workers. Here the emphasis is not how the group
contributes to the overall well-being of the choir members, but rather how
the members of the choir contribute to the quality of the musical product.
The primary importance of the group for these individuals is that it provides
them with an opportunity to sing without the fear of vocal exposure.
These contrasts are indicative of differences in ideologies of the musical
experience in collectivist and individualistic cultures as described in anthro-
pological studies. For example, Blacking (1973) reports that in collectivist
cultures participation in musical activities engenders individual recognition
and communal solidarity, and Kaemmer (1993) asserts that in western
individualistic cultures musical elitism serves to promote class differentiation.
The ideas expressed by Blacking and Kaemmer appear to be corroborated in
our studies. Membership in Choirs 1 and 2 provides a collective atmosphere
in which individual abilities are recognized and valued by the group, but the
sense of community seems to transcend any of the other benefits as is
indicated in the following comment:
Philip (Choir 2): It (the choir) means a lot to a lot of people there I tell ya, I seen some
people go there with some serious mental health issues who are just
hanging on, boy they show up for that choir practice on Thursdays
... if a choir member doesn’t show up for a couple practices, they’re
hunted down, tracked down.
In contrast, the middle-class subjects appear to exhibit an individualistic and
more self-serving attitude related to personal musical needs as indicated in
Daphne’s comment:
Daphne: I don’t think I went into the group needing the group as much as my own
experience with music and singing.
It must also be noted that the findings from the focus group that are related
to group process are in some ways contrary to those found by Pitts (2004) in
her study of G & S Societies. There may be several reasons for this discrepancy:
The acting component of G & S performances may bring individuals in closer
contact with each other than in the traditional choir seating arrangement
where members sit in sections next to the same individuals week after week.
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‘Play acting’ may break down polite social barriers that often prevent or
subdue interpersonal interaction.
In practising for G & S productions there often are considerable periods of
‘waiting’ between scenes. During these periods, participants have oppor-
tunities to exchange personal information and get to know each other
better. Many choirs often have only a very short break in the middle of
rehearsals that limits possibilities for social exchange. Consequently, the
less rigid format necessitated through the coordination of the various
components of musical theatre may more closely resemble the format of
Choirs 1 and 2, where less attention is directed to form than is the case
with more traditional types of choirs.
The reciprocity that occurs between the choir and the audience enables
the members of Choirs 1 and 2 to connect to the larger society from which
they have been estranged. The audience provides opportunities to experience
feelings of connection, pride, contribution and empowerment. Through
performing, the marginalized choristers are able to introduce themselves to
society in a way that is removed from the stereotype of the street dweller. Not
only do the choristers entertain with their singing voices, they now have a
political voice through which they can inform the audience about issues
related to poverty and homelessness. In this way, the choir becomes a vehicle
of empowerment, and the members become spokespersons for the marginal-
ized. In this one aspect of their lives they have become the masters of their
destiny. They are temporarily spared the humiliation of confronting the
bureaucratic system to receive services and commodities. For a short period
of time they have the opportunity to explore and create through their own
volition. However, the reciprocity feature of choral performance is not nearly
as important for the middle-class singers. For these individuals, public per-
formance is subordinate to practising. In fact, the audience often detracts
from the pleasure of the experience as the presence of the audience creates a
testing arena which increases anxiety related to performance ability.
For Choirs 1 and 2, the mental stimulation provided through group
singing furnished an opportunity to reveal concealed aspects of the self. Few
people are interested in the thoughts of schizophrenics, drug addicts and ex-
cons, especially when these individuals are steeped in extreme poverty. It is
not surprising that the opportunity to offer suggestions and opinions in a
group atmosphere, where all individuals are treated with respect, helps to
build confidence. But, for the middle-class singers, who are striving to
increase their personal expertise, the cognitive component is important in
that it increases their musical knowledge base and allows them to appreciate
and speak about music from a more informed position.
The studies with marginalized and middle-class singers discussed in this
article illustrate that singing appears to speak the same emotional language
regardless of the socioeconomic status or level of training of the participants.
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Whereas exceptional performances receive considerable acclaim and atten-
tion, the performance experience appears to be no less meaningful for the
most amateur and marginalized choristers who sing for audiences in obscure
settings. Indeed, for those who are compelled to live in poverty in the midst of
affluence, ‘making a joyful noise’ facilitates inclusion, acceptance and
empowerment. Choral singing also provides considerable rewards for the
middle-class singers, but the full potential of the experience appears to be
constrained by elitist notions of musicality. The pure joy of singing, especially
298 Psychology of Music 33(3)
FIGURE 1 Revised theory of the positive effects of participation in group singing and
performance based on evidence from marginalized and middle-class choristers.
– introspection
– energy/relaxation
– emotional catharsis
– singers’ high
Positive effects
of group
singing and
performance
– introspection
– energy/relaxation
– emotional catharsis
– singers’ high
– social support
– camaraderie (very
important)
– normalcy
– safe environment to
experience voice
– camaraderie
(minimal importance)
– sharing
– contribution
– pride
– empowerment
– opportunities to
demonstrate skills
(minimal importance)
– concentration
– opportunities for cognitive
stimulation
– ordered thought
processes
– challenge and
achievement
– improve skill set
– increase musical
knowledge
Marginalized
Middle-class
Marginalized
Middle-class
Marginalized
Middle-class
Marginalized
Middle-class
Clinical-type
benefits
Group
process
Choir/
audience
reciprocity
Cognitive
stimulation
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in public, is inhibited by feelings of inadequacy and the pressure to perform
within the parameters of ‘good musical practice’. It appears that the domi-
nant ideological attitude regarding musicianship not only affects those with
aspirations to become professional performance musicians, but also filters
through to the amateur chorister and produces fears related to exposing
a voice that may not meet a prescribed (though not necessarily obvious)
standard.
In our earlier research with Choir 1 (Bailey and Davidson, 2002) we
presented a preliminary diagram of the benefits of choral singing. It is now
necessary to alter the diagram to include the new information which illus-
trates the differences between the marginalized and middle-class participants
(Figure 1).
Conclusions
This research is a first step in understanding the importance of participatory
singing experiences for amateurs at many levels of musical training and
ability. It illustrates that group singing and performance can produce satisfy-
ing and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal
instrument is of mediocre quality. In fact, there may be very little difference
in the enjoyment of generating musical sounds at the most professional and
most amateur levels. This information may be useful to music educators,
therapists and choral conductors who have an interest in encouraging
participation in choral singing to promote emotional, social and cognitive
health. Further research is required to understand more fully the effects of
the perpetuation of elitist notions of musicality and the resulting fear of
participating in, and exclusion from, musical activities. At a time when more
and more of our leisure hours are filled with sedentary and isolating pas-
times, it may be important to determine the differences in the psychological
and physiological effects of active and passive activities.
NOTES
1. Although homelessness and extreme poverty are deplorable conditions, this study
revealed that there are degrees of destitution even within the homeless condition
as the members of this second choir appeared to be more impoverished than
those in the first study. The difference in circumstances may have been partially
attributable to apparent differences in the level of governmental support for the
homeless within the two Canadian provinces. Also, the participants in Choir 2
had more severe psychological disorders, particularly schizophrenia, which may
have reduced their coping skills. At least half of those interviewed often strayed
from the topic under discussion, choosing to focus on an issue foremost in their
personal agenda, usually related to some form of perceived persecution. Despite
these digressions, the themes which emerged regarding choir participation were
markedly similar to those in the first study.
2. While reviewing these quotations it is important to consider the extent of the
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mental distress and physical deprivation that these choir members experience
on a daily basis. In view of these extreme hardships, it is remarkable that they
are able to articulate their perceptions of the effects of active participation in a
musical activity.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors would like to thank Debbie Lutz for her contribution as the independent
auditor.
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Appendix: effects of group singing interview
SECTION 1: EARLY LIFE
Family life
Could you describe your family background to me? (with the intent to cover relation-
ships with parents, siblings, problems in the family, socioeconomic status)
School life (academic ability, relationship to teachers and other students, extracur-
ricular activities)
What about your school life, how was it at school? What kind of student were you?
Did you have many friends at school?
Did you get along with your teachers?
Did you ever get into trouble in school?
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Early music experiences
Did you participate in musical activities? (home, church, school, community)
What level of enjoyment was received from these activities?
SECTION 2: EDUCATION/EMPLOYMENT/LIFE DIRECTION
Education
How far did you progress in school, university, vocational training?
What were your main academic/school interests?
Employment
What jobs have you had?
How long were you employed?
What happened that led to your unemployment? (occupations and success or failure
in those occupations)
The descent into homelessness
How long have/had you been homeless?
How has this experience been for you? Tell me about some good and bad times.
How does being homeless make you feel about yourself? (self-esteem)
In your experience, how do other people treat homeless people?
How did/does that make you feel?
Has homelessness affected your personal relationships?
How did you feel the first time you went to a soup kitchen/shelter?
SECTION 3: THE CHOIR
Decision to join
How did you hear about the choir?
What prompted you to join?
How long have you been a member?
First impressions of the choir
What did you think about the choir during your first practice?
What did you think of the director?
Did you relate well to the other choir members?
Have your relationships with the director and other choir members changed since you
first joined?
SECTION 4: THE EXPERIENCE OF SINGING
How do you feel when you are singing?
Does the music affect or change how you feel?
Do you have any musical preferences?
Why do you think certain types of music appeal to you more than others?
Are there any differences in how you feel before practice and after practice?
If yes, what do you think has caused that change?
Is there any difference/s between singing in practice and singing in front of an
audience?
What about listening to music, is there a difference between listening and singing?
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SECTION 5: PROGRESSION OF SUCCESS OF THE CHOIR AND RESULTING
PERSONAL CHANGES
When you joined the choir did you know that you would be performing for the public?
How did you feel when you first performed publicly?
Has that changed?
Did you ever think that the choir would be so successful?
Why do you think the choir has been so successful?
How do you feel about the choir now compared to when you first joined?
I hear you have been travelling, what has that experience been like?
You have also produced several CDs, how do you feel about that?
You are beginning to experience celebrity status, how does that make you feel?
Has the choir affected your personal relationships?
Has the choir affected your attitude towards life?
What does the choir mean to your life now?
Is there any other activity that could have accomplished what the choir has
accomplished?
What are your hopes for the future? (the choir and life in general)
BETTY A. B AILEY is a PhD student in Psychology of Music at the University of
Sheffield. Results from her MA research, which focused on the emotional, social and
cognitive benefits of choral participation for homeless men, were recently published in
Musicae Scientiae and The Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. Her PhD studies are concen-
trated on effects of active and passive participation in musical activities as compared
with other types of leisure activities. Additional primary interests include the evolu-
tionary roots of inherent and universal musical ability and the limiting effects of
western elitism on widespread musical expression through participation.
Address: 62 Parkside Drive, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, C1E 1N1.
[email: bbailey@pei.sympatico.ca]
JANE W. DAVIDSON is Reader in Music at the University of Sheffield. She has pub-
lished work ranging from musical development to performance. She teaches MA
Psychology for Musicians and MA Psychology of Music, runs the MA Music Theatre
Studies and currently supervises 15 PhD students. She also runs undergraduate
modules on Development of Musical Ability, Psychological Approaches to Performance
and Music Therapy. In addition to this, she is a busy performer and director, working
in opera and music theatre. She was Editor of Psychology of Music from 1997 to 2001.
Address: Department of Music, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK. [email:
j.w.davidson@sheffield.ac.uk]
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... Summary of the community characteristics in the included studies indicated that socio-economic factors, regions, and affiliation were the main determinants of the formation of the community group. In 15 studies (33%), the participants were socially disadvantaged; this included individuals from low socio-economic areas [34][35][36]40,58], those who lacked social support because of chronic health problems or older age [26,27,59,60], and those who were facing adversity because of social circumstances or cultural diversity [39,44,46,47,[61][62][63]. There were also studies where participants shared the same cultural backgrounds [39,46,64]. ...
... For positive emotions, experiences of enjoyment, happiness, and pleasure [29,[32][33][34][35][36]38,39,[51][52][53]57,59,67,68,[70][71][72] were frequently reported, along with heightened arousal [63] and relaxation [29,32,60,65]. Studies reporting benefits on coping indicated that the community music activity improved participants' ability to cope with stress and negative emotions [40,47,50,58,62,63,67,68,70,72], provided opportunities to release emotions [40,56,63,65], and allowed for self or emotional expression [29,40,56,57,60,65,72]. ...
... For positive emotions, experiences of enjoyment, happiness, and pleasure [29,[32][33][34][35][36]38,39,[51][52][53]57,59,67,68,[70][71][72] were frequently reported, along with heightened arousal [63] and relaxation [29,32,60,65]. Studies reporting benefits on coping indicated that the community music activity improved participants' ability to cope with stress and negative emotions [40,47,50,58,62,63,67,68,70,72], provided opportunities to release emotions [40,56,63,65], and allowed for self or emotional expression [29,40,56,57,60,65,72]. ...
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The benefits of community music activities for promoting well-being have been well recognized in previous literature. However, due to their wide variability and flexible approaches, a comprehensive understanding of the research and practice of community music activities for well-being promotion is sparse. The purpose of this scoping review was to synthesize published literature pertaining to community music activities for well-being promotion and identify key implementation characteristics and strategies to inform future practice and research. Studies of community music activities that investigated well-being outcomes in participants of all ages and conditions were eligible for inclusion. Through electronic database and manual searches, a total of 45 studies were identified and included in the analysis. The main findings showed that community music activities for well-being were characterized by a wide range of populations and applications, collaborative work, an emphasis on social components, and musical accomplishments. However, this variability also revealed a lack of consistent and thorough information as well as diversity in well-being conception across studies. The review offers practical recommendations for future research and practice based on the current findings.
... The emotional, psychological and social benefits of group singing are well documented both in and outside of medical settings Hancox, 2001, 2010;Ahessy, 2015;Reagon et al., 2016). Studies have indicated similar benefits of group singing for individuals facing socio-economic hardships and from areas of disadvantage (Davidson, 2004;Bailey and Davidson, 2005;Cronley et al., 2018), as well as for adults living with a chronic mental illness or disability (Brander et al., 2013;Fogg-Rogers et al., 2016;Moss and Donoghue, 2019). Research to date on choral singing indicates many physical, cognitive and social benefits Moss et al., 2018). ...
... These findings are consistent with previous studies investigating the impact of group singing. The overarching themes of social impact, health and well-being aspects and practical issues were deemed fitting and corroborated such respective findings within the current literature: peer support (Ahessy, 2015) and benefits of connecting with the community through performance (Ansdell and Pavlicevic, 2004;Baker, 2013;Clements-Cortés and Pearson, 2014); positive emotions (Bailey and Davidson, 2005), shifts in self-perception (Brander et al., 2013) and combating isolation (Bingley, 2011;Southcott and Joseph, 2015); the importance of leadership (Southcott and Joseph, 2015) and the development of a routine (Brander et al., 2013). ...
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A mixed-methods concurrent identical design was implemented to explore the following research question: what are the emotional, social, and practical impacts of group singing for women from a regeneration area? Members of an all-female community choir based in an area of disadvantage participated in a focus group and survey. The most significant quantitative finding was an increase in the overall perceived level of health, which seemed linked to qualitative themes of 'positive emotions', 'redefining and reclaiming identity', 'choir as an extended family' and 'community interaction and impact'. Three themes arose from qualitative data: social impact, health and well-being aspects, and practical issues. Integrating qualitative and quantitative findings identified an overarching concept that 'choir participation may increase emotional and social health and well-being'. Group singing was found beneficial, with a potential to serve as a resource in cultivating resilience in individuals living in areas of disadvantage.
... Singing for physical and mental health has increased in popularity in recent years, with 4,401 choirs now included on the 'British Choirs on the Web' (2018) internet page. Studies have been conducted on the use of choirs in marginalised groups such as prison inmates (Bailey & Davidson, 2005;Cohen, 2009;Silber, 2005); mental health patients (Plumb & Stickley, 2017;Williams, Dingle, & Clift, 2018); those with physical ailments including cystic fibrosis (Yoon Irons, Kuipers, & Petocz, 2013), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (Gick & Nicol, 2016;Lewis, Cave, & Hopkinson, 2017) and cancer (Gale, Enright, Reagon, Lewis, & van Deursen, 2012); and children (Hinshaw, Clift, Hulbert, & Camic, 2015;Mellor, 2013;Welch, Himonides, Saunders, Papageorgi, & Sarazin, 2014). These have shown promising results in terms of improvements in physical and psychological wellbeing. ...
... These have shown promising results in terms of improvements in physical and psychological wellbeing. Much discussion is around the reasons why this is the case, with some studies suggesting biological and physiological reasons (Sanal & Gorsev, 2014), and others positing that the social element of being a choir member result in improved stress levels and a perceived reduction in feelings of isolation (Bailey & Davidson, 2005; Linnermann, Schnersch, & Nater, 2017; Stewart & Lonsdale, 2016). ...
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This exploratory empirical study looks at job strain, as defined by the Job Demand-Control-Support models of Karasek and Johnson & Hall and introduces singing in the workplace as a potential secondary intervention for organisations to deliver to their employees, to help reduce work-related stress and isolation. Incumbent members of workplace singing groups completed a Demand Control Support Questionnaire to define their existing level of job strain and if they perceived their choir attendance as helping to reduce stress and isolation. Findings suggest that the choir provided a greater level of support compared to social support from colleagues and peers, although the effect was relatively small. This effect replicates previous studies that suggest singing can improve overall wellbeing, although no other known studies exist to examine this effect in the workplace specifically. No effect was found to demonstrate that participants experiencing a higher level of job strain had a greater benefit, although much of the sample were defined as belonging to the low job strain group. Further research is recommended to understand the extent to which this effect might be found in a larger and more diverse sample.
... The music curriculum in Estonia describes the learning outcomes in all three stages of basic school, such as singing, playing musical instruments, musical movement, creativity, composing, listening to music and musicology, musical literacy and school choirs (the music curriculum of the basic school). Group singing and performance deliver considerable emotional, social and cognitive benefits and stimulate self-esteem and confidence (Bailey & Davidson, 2005). The act of joint singing serves as an example significant to the Estonian context; for example, the Estonian song festival tells the story of how the Estonians see themselves as a nation. ...
... However, to date, the case of the solo event goer has not been critically explored in the events management literature. According to Bailey and Davidson (2005) there is a need for further research into music events and to begin to understand how these contribute to an individual's emotional well-being. To address the gap in knowledge this study focuses on solo event goers at music events in the UK. ...
Article
Background. Singing in choirs, which previous research has identified as supporting wellbeing, has been restricted and altered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Purpose. The purpose of this study is to investigate and describe the experience of music-making for musicians in professional and semi-professional choirs in Canada 18-22 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 participants and analyzed using interpretive description. Findings. Four themes: (1) increased negative feelings associated with the music-making experience due to COVID-19 restrictions, (2) isolation and disconnection, (3) recognizing how music-making aids in their own mental health, the participants used music-making to help their communities cope with the pandemic, and (4) adapting in response to COVID-19 reinforced music-making's importance. Implications. Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered Canadian choral musicians' experience of music-making can help occupational therapists in supporting choral musicians return to this meaningful occupation.
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This article introduces the validation of a Musical Identity Measure (MIM), developed to support individuals’ self-conceptions in relation to their musical activities (e.g., performance, composition, music technology). Initial model validation was carried out using a principal axis factor analysis with a diverse and international sample of 336 musicians. The factor analysis revealed a four-factor measure: Musical Calling, Musical Self-Efficacy, Emotional Attachment, and Growth Mindset. Confirmatory factor analysis with the 25-item measure suggested that the model fit would be improved with the removal of three items, resulting in the same four-factor model with 22 items. Further validation with a different dataset confirmed MIM as a strong fit as a bifactor model. Measurement invariance tests confirmed that the bifactor structure was the same for male and female participants; individual measurement invariance in relation to age could not be fully examined due to variance in group sizes. Subsequent analysis of variance (ANOVA) calculations suggested gender differences in musical self-efficacy and highlighted possible changes in MIM factors across the lifespan. MIM has the potential to provide individuals with insights into their motivations to engage with musical activities, to help identify areas requiring additional support or guidance, and to support future-oriented decision making. The measure may also support educators and researchers wishing to understand and support the processes of musical development and skill acquisition.
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自1999年底中国进入老龄化社会以来,中国的老年人口数量一直在持续快速增长。到2022年,中国将进入人口快速老龄化的第三个阶段。 为适应老年人口日益增长的学习、社会交往和自我实现的需要,中国各省市的老年教育机构除传统老年大学外,还出现了许多新的组织,呈现出多样化的态势。本研究以浙江省温州市的老年学习者为例,基于自我决定理论,通过混合研究方法对当下老年音乐教育活动展开调查研究。研究描述了当下多元化的老年音乐教育现状,分析了老年学习者参与音乐教育活动,将音乐学习融入生活的主要原因和各类影响因素。 本研究由五个部分组成: 第一部分为绪论,对本文的选题缘起、国内外研究现状、研究问题、研究方法等进行概括描述; 第一章涉及研究的背景,从人口老龄化相关概念与老龄化社会现象,概述了当下各类老龄政策,对当前老年教育与老年音乐教育研究的理论与实践进行了论述; 第二章是对于研究理论与研究设计的论述,包括本研究涉及的重要理论基础,基于理论的研究问题和假设,研究方法与研究对象的选择,资料收集与分析方式等; 第三章是问卷数据的分析与结果量化呈现,包括样本数据的描述性分析,各因素相关性与差异性关系分析,以及中介效应路径模型分析,分析结果验证了本研究的研究假设; 第四章是被研究者的故事,以质化研究为主要方法,描绘了九位老年学习者的学习背景、儿时经历、音乐学习现状、学习动机与需求,揭示了当下多元化老年音乐教育活动的现状。 结合研究数据与分析结果,本研究证实了老年学习者个体的学习动机、外部环境支持、个体音乐参与体验等各因素对其音乐参与行为具有重要意义。同时本研究肯定了音乐参与活动对于老年学习者的重要意义与价值,呼吁建设更为多样化和专业化的老年音乐教育组织和团体。 Since China entered into an ageing society in late 1999, the number of elderly people in China has been growing rapidly and continuously. By 2022, China will have entered the third stage of population ageing, the rapid population ageing stage. In order to accommodate the growing needs of the elderly population for learning, social interaction, and self-fulfilment, organisations for later adulthood education are flourishing in all provinces and cities in China. In addition to the traditional Universities for the Aged, many new organisations have emerged, showing a diversity of dynamics. Taking older learners in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province as an example, this study investigates and researches contemporary later adulthood music education activities through a mixed research approach based on self-determination theory. The study describes the current situation of diversified later adulthood music education, and analyses the main reasons and various influencing factors for older learners to participate in music education activities and integrate music learning into their lives. The study consists of five parts. The first part is an introduction, which provides a general description of the origin of the topic, the current status of research at home and abroad, the research questions and the research methodology. Chapter 1 deals with the background of the study, looking at the concepts related to population ageing and the social phenomenon of ageing, outlining the various types of current policies on ageing, and discussing the current theory and practice of research on elderly education and music education for the elderly. Chapter 2 is a discussion of the research theory and research design, including the important theoretical foundations involved in this study, the research questions and hypotheses based on the theory, the selection of research methods and research subjects, and the way data are collected and analysed. Chapter 3 is the analysis of the questionnaire data and the quantitative presentation of the results, including the descriptive analysis of the sample data, the analysis of the correlation and differential relationship of the factors, and the analysis of the mediating effect path model, the results of which validate the research hypotheses of this study. Chapter 4 is the story of the researched, using qualitative research as the main method, depicting the learning background, childhood experiences, current status of music learning, motivation and needs of the nine older learners, revealing the current status of diversified older adulthood music education activities. Combining the research data and analysis results, this study confirms the importance of individual motivation, external environmental support and individual music participation experience for older learners' music participation behaviour. The study also affirms the importance and value of music participation activities for older learners and calls for the development of more diverse and specialised organisations and groups for later adulthood music education.
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The most important question in the psychology of music is how music affects an individual's emotional experience, which has been the subject of extensive research. However, the outcome appeared from a variety of perspectives, and at times it devolved into endless debates and arguments. When it comes to music, every individual's emotional state will have a different impact on how it is influenced, depending on whether the emotion is expressed through listening, playing, or participating in musical activities. Musical activities such as singing in preschool are examples that can be used to demonstrate how music can influence an individual's emotional responses. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of teachers' perspectives on the influence of singing activities on the expression of children's emotions because they are the ones who organize the activities and can observe the children's participation. This qualitative study was conducted by interviewing 7 preschool teachers that are currently teaching in Shah Alam, Selangor to study their perspectives on the influence of singing activity on the expression of children's emotions. For this research, a qualitative method approach will be deployed to analyze the teachers' perspective on the influence of singing activity on the expression of children's emotions. Data for this research was collected in the form of recorded audio interviews. The analysis is then done based on the transcriptions. The findings of this research acknowledge that music can influence human emotion. The outcome of this research can be used to contribute knowledge to other music researchers and psychologists on the importance of music and emotion.
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Describes the nature of homelessness, its multiple causes, and its demographic, economic, sociological, and social policy antecedents. Finding the origins of the problem to be social and political rather than economic, Wright (human relations, Tulane) outlines remedies based on existing and modified
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In this chapter I will be looking at the psychological effects of pregnancy and the transition to motherhood; more particularly I will concentrate on the effect of the transition on a woman’s sense of identity. This discussion will show how research on pregnancy can be seen to occur within a dialogue about the psychology of health and illness, normality and deviance, individuality and generality. After a brief review of the ‘mainstream’ psychological literature, the chapter will consider more recent, mainly feminist, writings which suggest different views on the transition. I will then describe a study I conducted which explores in detail one woman’s account of her pregnancy and its relationship to her sense of identity.
Book
"The book is useful in that it focuses upon techniques and provides 'tasters' of qualitative methodologies and encourages readers to try the methods for themselves in their own research projects. It is well-referenced and directs the reader to other sources of information should they wish to pursue their interests. It is worthwhile in that it encourages the reader to take a wider perspective than the quasi-experimental methods presented in most methodology texts at this level. The authors presented encourage us to develop new ways of working and using data." --Ann Llewellyn in History and Philosophy of Psychology Newsletter This accessible book introduces key research methods that challenge psychology's traditional preoccupation with "scientific" experiments. The wide-scale rejection of conventional theory and method has led to the evolution of different ways to gather and analyze data. Rethinking Methods in Psychology provides a lucid and well-structured guide to key effective methods, which not only contain the classic qualitative approaches but also offer a reworking of quantitative methods to suit the changing picture of psychological research today. Leading figures in the research arena focus on research in the real world, language and discourse, dynamic interactions, and persons and individuals. They also guide the reader through the main stages of conducting a study. This is an essential volume for anyone interested in doing research in psychology without relying on positivist tradition, as well as students and scholars in communication, management, and nursing.
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In a naturalistic pre-post design, samples of saliva were collected from the members of a professional chorale during an early rehearsal (n = 31), a late rehearsal (n = 34) and a public performance (n = 32) of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. As measures of immune system response, mean levels of secretory immunoglobulin A increased significantly, as a proportion of whole protein, 150% during rehearsals and 240% during the performance. Cortisol concentrations decreased significantly an average of 30% during rehearsals and increased 37% during performance. As measured through performance perception rating scales, a group of emotions and other experiential states that singers associated with professional singing were highly predictive of changes in level of secretory immunoglobulin A during the performance condition, but the results for the rehearsal conditions were not significant. The best multiple regression model for performance level of immunoglobulin A (p < .0015) included seven emotional, cognitive, and evaluative variables generally associated with choral singing, including levels of mood before and during singing, stress, relaxation, feeling "high," detachment/engagement, and specific satisfaction with the immediate performance.