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Research-to-Resource: Two Motivation Frameworks for Encouraging School Choral Participation



Sustaining or increasing participation in school choral programs is a priority among choral music educators. Motivation frameworks are helpful tools for understanding why students start, stop, or sustain involvement in activities. In this article, I explore some of the sociopsychological factors associated with choral music participation through the lens of two motivation frameworks: Self-determination theory (SDT) and Expectancy-value theory (EVT). First, I use SDT to highlight classroom characteristics that encourage intrinsic motivation and sustain long-term engagement in choir. Second, I explore how concepts from EVT are important to consider when designing a choral program and the associated recruiting strategies. Finally, I frame choral music participation as an inherently complex phenomenon—differences between enrollment rates and program characteristics are to be expected and welcomed, given the numerous ways motivational factors and school environments influence involvement. I briefly address each motivation theory followed by multiple classroom applications.
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© 2022 National Association for
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DOI: 10.1177/87551233221082507
Original Research Article
Monitoring enrollment rates in choir classes is a natural
part of choral program management. Participation rates
often have numerous pedagogical and practical implica-
tions. Examples include ensuring sufficient access to
music education, supporting the musical functionality of
choral ensembles, and even providing choral educators
with justifications for full-time employment. Concerns
around enrollment also represent one of the regular
stressors of choral program management, sometimes
causing frustration and anxiety among music educators
(Fitzpatrick, 2013; Scheib, 2003; R. D. Shaw, 2014).
These concerns deepened as large ensembles were
restricted or moved online during the ongoing COVID-19
pandemic (Hash, 2021; Parkes et al., 2021).
Exploring motivation theories may help choral music
educators (a) organize their pedagogical and promotional
strategies effectively and (b) resolve some of the stress
around what strategies or program structures promote
choral involvement. Undoubtedly, there are few simple
solutions for increasing participation in music ensembles
or reducing the pressure of sustaining enrollment rates.
However, motivation research may provide a baseline of
1Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA
Corresponding Author:
Seth Pendergast, Colorado State University, 200 W. Lake Street, Fort
Collins, CO 80523, USA.
Research-to-Resource: Two Motivation
Frameworks for Encouraging School
Choral Participation
Seth Pendergast1
Sustaining or increasing participation in school choral programs is a priority among choral music educators. Motivation
frameworks are helpful tools for understanding why students start, stop, or sustain involvement in activities. In this
article, I explore some of the sociopsychological factors associated with choral music participation through the lens
of two motivation frameworks: Self-determination theory (SDT) and Expectancy-value theory (EVT). First, I use
SDT to highlight classroom characteristics that encourage intrinsic motivation and sustain long-term engagement in
choir. Second, I explore how concepts from EVT are important to consider when designing a choral program and the
associated recruiting strategies. Finally, I frame choral music participation as an inherently complex phenomenon—
differences between enrollment rates and program characteristics are to be expected and welcomed, given the
numerous ways motivational factors and school environments influence involvement. I briefly address each motivation
theory followed by multiple classroom applications.
choir, engagement, motivation, recruitment, retention
Implications for Music Teaching and Learning
Choral music educators may consider some central principles from motivation research:
Intrinsic motivation and engagement in activities are enhanced when students feel their needs for autonomy,
competence, and relatedness are met; therefore, acknowledge and respond to students’ interests/goals
(autonomy), support students’ musical growth (competence), and facilitate community within the ensemble
Design recruiting strategies that require active involvement from choir members and recruits. This involve-
ment supports the development of self-efficacy and interest.
Consider if participation in your choral program has too many costs. Costs are manifested in many ways,
such as time commitment, skill remediation, financial, inflexibility, and social pressure.
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clarity around the factors that influence participation in
choral programs—empowering choral directors to act
with greater intentionality as they manage choral instruc-
tion and involvement.
Moreover, understanding the complex interplay of
motivational factors among students and within a school
system may help explain why music teachers observe
variation in choral involvement or program characteris-
tics from school to school. Given this expected variation
between programs, choral teachers may feel more
empowered to build choral programs that fit the charac-
teristics of their school. Choral directors may also feel
less pressure to create the perfect choral program and
help the music education profession embrace broader
definitions of success (Maunu, 2018).
Purpose and Framework
In this article, I explore the issue of school choral partici-
pation based upon insights from two motivation theories.
In social psychology, theories are one of the primary tools
for understanding and solving problems (Schultz &
Estrada-Hollenbeck, 2008). Motivation theorists tend to
address two primary questions: (1) What causes behav-
ior? and (2) Why does behavior vary in its intensity?
(Reeve, 2015). In even simpler terms, why do people do
what they do (Deci & Flaste, 1995)?
In the sections that follow, I utilize Self-Determination
Theory (SDT) and Expectancy Value Theory (EVT) to
explore why students do or do not sustain involvement in
choir programs. I use SDT to address teaching practices
that support students’ basic psychological needs and
intrinsic motivation, encouraging their involvement in
choral programs over time (retention). In the EVT sec-
tion, I consider the motivational factors all students—
those enrolled and not enrolled in music classes—consider
when choosing to engage in activities (recruitment).
Before exploring SDT and EVT, it is important to note
a few provisions for interpreting the research and prac-
tices that are espoused in this article. First, the field of
motivation includes many theories. Researchers and
practitioners may apply theories differently based upon
various circumstances or problems (e.g., Achievement
Goal theory, Mindset theory, Self-efficacy theory, etc.;
Leaper, 2011; Pintrich, 2003; Reeve, 2015). As a result,
although SDT and EVT may not encapsulate all the
dynamics associated with choral participation, I selected
SDT and EVT because they are particularly well-suited
for understanding some of the most common challenges
related to retention and recruitment in the choral class-
room. Second, both SDT and EVT are multifaceted.
Therefore, some aspects of each theory are abbreviated or
not represented in this brief article.
SDT: Supporting Basic Psychological
One concise framework for conceptualizing the dynam-
ics that sustain involvement in choir is the concept of
basic psychological needs (BPN) from SDT. SDT pro-
poses humans need to experience three BPN to thrive:
competence, autonomy, and relatedness (Ryan & Deci,
2017). Students develop intrinsic motivation and exhibit
deeper cognitive and emotional engagement when we
support their BPN in our classes (Reeve, 2016). A grow-
ing body of research has indicated a connection between
BPN satisfaction and retention in music classes (Evans
et al., 2013; Evans & Liu, 2018; E. Freer & Evans, 2019;
Kingsford-Smith & Evans, 2021; Yoo, 2020). Although
SDT encompasses many concepts (e.g., quality vs. quan-
tity of motivation, goal orientations, identity develop-
ment), I focus on actionable strategies that support
students’ BPN in the choir classroom. BPN satisfaction
will likely enhance intrinsic motivation, deepen engage-
ment, and help sustain involvement in choir (Evans &
Liu, 2018; E. Freer & Evans, 2019; Reeve, Jang, et al.,
2004; Yoo, 2020).
Competence is the need to operate effectively, master
new challenges, and grow our abilities within an environ-
ment (Evans, 2015). Competence is best supported when
students regularly improve (mastery experience) and
observe others modeling improvement or offering
encouragement (Hendricks, 2016). Therefore, consider if
your pedagogical practices (e.g., sequencing, assessment,
feedback, critical thinking) and curriculum (e.g., reper-
toire selection) support or frustrate feelings of compe-
tence in your students. The following categories represent
a few of the ways music teachers can support students’
feelings of competence.
Optimal Challenge. Plan repertoire and employ rehearsal
strategies that facilitate optimal challenge (Reeve, 2016).
Optimal challenges demand effort from students while
still ensuring they succeed more than they fail. For exam-
ple, some teachers plan music that requires part-singing
well beyond students’ capabilities rather than at the
threshold of their abilities. The students repeatedly fail to
maintain their part against the rest, frustrating their need
for competence. Scaffold skill development in numerous
domains to promote opportunities for an optimal chal-
lenge (e.g., vocal development, sight-singing, part inde-
pendence, expression, staging; Pol et al., 2010).
Goals and Expectations. Clarify goals and expectations,
so students know what they are trying to accomplish and
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when they have achieved it. Clear goals may be particu-
larly challenging in choral rehearsals because many cho-
ral objectives are abstract, such as singing an expressive
phrase or producing a beautiful tone. Therefore, clarify
learning goals by addressing specific behaviors and
underlying concepts. For example, Jordan (2005) encour-
ages singers to produce spacious, high, and forward
sounds—taking the nebulous idea of resonant tone and
linking it with achievable behaviors. Bowers (2011)
encourages teachers to utilize rules for expression to clar-
ify how to sing with artistry (e.g., any note greater than
the steady beat value should crescendo, stress the first
note of a slur).
Feedback. Feedback is essential for supporting compe-
tence and may come from instructors, peers, or even one-
self. For instructors, offering direct and specific feedback
related to the task at hand will guide students toward mas-
tery (Svec, 2017). When instructors provide feedback in a
constructive manner (i.e., praise effort, offer specific
strategies for improvement), competence and autonomy
are supported (Carpentier & Mage au, 2013). For peer or
self-assessment, it is essential to use specific criteria to
guide feedback (Mendoza & Yan, 2021).
Novel Experiences. Choral teachers often incorporate spe-
cial learning experiences throughout the school year,
such as unique performance opportunities (e.g., choir
share program with a college, district/state festivals, per-
form in a unique venue) or invited class guests (e.g.,
voice or conducting clinicians). Special events may rep-
resent a novel experience for many students, which have
been shown to support learning and stimulate interest
(Morrens et al., 2020; Silvia, 2006). These experiences
will likely support feelings of competence because they
represent several competence-supportive elements—
feedback, optimal challenge, positive environment, goal
clarification, and novelty (Carpenters & Mageau, 2013;
González-Cutre et al., 2016; Reeve, 2016).
Autonomy is the need to feel ownership and self-endorse-
ment of one’s actions (Reeve, Deci, et al., 2004). When
students’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors emanate from
within themselves their need for autonomy is fulfilled
(Evans, 2015). Consequently, supporting autonomy in the
classroom means taking steps in our teaching behaviors,
curriculum, rehearsal practices, program management,
classroom management, and even personal sentiments to
support students’ strivings instead of merely controlling
their behaviors and outcomes (Reeve, 2016). Autonomy-
supportive practices help students feel understood and
more closely align students’ interests, goals, and concerns
with the objectives of the class. In contrast, the need for
autonomy is frustrated when students feel controlled,
obligated to act, or feel they do not have opportunities to
enact their aspirations (Evans, 2015). The categories
below represent a few of the ways teachers might support
students’ autonomy.
Repertoire and Choice. Choose a repertoire that is congru-
ent with and values student interests and cultural back-
grounds (J. Shaw, 2012). Students bring their musical
identity to the classroom, developed over time by their
experiences with friends, families, community members,
and broader socio-cultural factors (e.g., class, ethnicity,
language, gender, age, and popular culture; Eccles, 2009).
An autonomy-supportive approach prioritizes student
interests and strengths during repertoire selection,
rehearsal, and performance (e.g., style, difficulty, and
emotionally resonant themes; J. Shaw, 2012). Encourage
student choice in several aspects of the choral experi-
ence—examples may include repertoire, social gather-
ings, and daily rehearsal schedule. When facilitating
student choices, consider that authentic decisions require
understanding the options and rationales (Reeve et al.,
Rehearsal Behaviors and Dispositions. To support auton-
omy during rehearsals, (a) link learning activities to the
choir’s goals, (b) provide meaningful rationales for
activities, and (c) utilize encouraging and humanizing
instructional behaviors (Reeve, 2016). First, meaningful
explanations for learning activities are autonomy-sup-
portive because they serve as links between a seemingly
“worthless” activity (from the student perspective) to stu-
dent performance goals (Deci et al., 1994). For example,
instead of telling students to sight-read because it is
inherently important, link the sight-reading exercise to a
performance piece the students enjoy. Second, acknowl-
edge and accept negative affect—accept students’ frustra-
tions as they proceed through the learning process (Deci
et al., 1994; Reeve, 2009). This practice is autonomy-
supportive because the teacher shows sensitivity to stu-
dents’ emotions and concerns, acknowledges student
frustrations as legitimate, and restructures some aspects
of the rehearsal in response (Reeve & Jang, 2006). Third,
humanize and encourage students by recognizing effort,
praising progress more than criticizing failure, and enjoy-
ing student personalities with good humor and care
(Reeve & Jang, 2006).
Promote a Growth Mind-set. A growth mindset is a belief
that one’s abilities are malleable and might be improved
through effort and practice (Dweck, 2006). To support a
growth mindset in choir students, Adams (2021) recom-
mends offering constructive feedback (i.e., praise for
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effort, strategies for improvement), approaching mistakes
as opportunities for growth, and scheduling regular bench-
mark assessments rather than high stakes assessments.
Why is a growth mindset related to feelings of autonomy?
First, personal improvement goals are inherently intrinsic
(e.g., personal growth, new endeavors, developing rela-
tionships), while comparative goals are extrinsic (e.g., try-
ing to be better than someone else, attractiveness, and
other’s perceptions; Bauer et al., 2005; Dweck, 2000;
Ryan & Deci, 2017). Second, a growth mindset encour-
ages individuals to see themselves as the cause of their
behavior and development (internal perceived locus of
causality; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Ryan & Deci, 2017).
Student Self-Direction. Opportunities for self-direction
enhance feelings of autonomy, and there are many oppor-
tunities for self-direction in the choral program (Evans,
2015; Nix et al., 1999). First, include student voice and
choice in performance decisions such as repertoire, per-
formance design, or venue (Evans, 2015; Haning, 2021).
Second, allow students to innovate and manage aspects of
the choral program (e.g., mentoring programs, socializa-
tion activities, social media, recruiting activities; Mara,
2019). Third, facilitate self-direction in the music class-
room through student-centered pedagogical practices.
Student-centered learning practices include creating per-
sonal learning goals, solving musical problems in part-
ners, thinking critically about their performance in
collaboration with their peers, and even offering instruc-
tion to their peers (Evans, 2015; Hansen & Imse, 2016).
Activities such as these support autonomy, competence,
and intrinsic motivation because students initiate a course
of action to meet learning goals within their capabilities
(Evans, 2015; Haning, 2021; Johnson, 2015).
Classroom Management. Consider how your classroom
management practices support autonomy. Autonomy does
not mean a lack of structure. Indeed, structure coupled
with autonomy support enhances classroom engagement
(Jang et al., 2010). Accordingly, use structure and mutu-
ally agreed-upon procedures and rules to guide the class-
room. To the degree you can, avoid punishments, threats,
shame, and effort/performance contingent rewards to
motivate students (verbal rewards and unexpected rewards
do not undermine intrinsic motivation; Deci et al., 1999,
2001). These actions will inevitably come across as con-
trolling because they force students to comply through
coercion, thereby thwarting feelings of autonomy. When
students do violate rules or core principles, administer
agreed-upon consequences from a position of neutrality.
Relatedness is the need to feel connected to people and
involves caring for others and others caring for you (Deci
& Ryan, 2014). In keeping with the need for autonomy,
this reciprocal care should be voluntary and uncondi-
tional—each party cares for the other through success
and failure. This sense of belonging and connection
seems especially important to choir members (Ebie,
2005; Parker, 2016, 2018; Rolandson, 2015; Yoo, 2020).
Here are some ways to support student relatedness in the
choral classroom.
Student Esteem. Lead each student relationship with
esteem for students’ strengths and potential (Parker, 2016;
Sweet, 2008). Demonstrate your regard for students by
creating conditions where the group’s strengths will show
and performances will be successful. Even beyond the
classroom, look for school-wide musical opportunities.
For example, allow all students in the school to partici-
pate in events like the school musical, talent shows,
lunchtime karaoke, or open mics. This overriding ethic of
possibility demonstrates a sense of caring and belief in
who students are and what they can do (Parker, 2016).
Reciprocal Care. Care between choir members must be
reciprocal and voluntary to support feelings of related-
ness (Laird, 2021; Parker, 2010; Parker, 2016). Accord-
ingly, students might teach and coach each other in paired
groups during class. The leadership team may develop
mentorship systems and social outings that make sense
for them and their lives. Furthermore, invest in team
building and mentorship programs to keep students con-
nected and supported throughout the year.
Independent and Interrelated Needs
It is important to note that BPN needs are both indepen-
dently essential and mutually supportive (Chen et al.,
2015). The development of one need may support the
development of another, and all three needs must be satis-
fied to support optimal well-being (Patrick et al., 2007;
Ryan & Deci, 2017). For example, students in choir
report a sense of connection to each other in relation to
their shared interests, goals, and identities (Parker, 2018).
Therefore, the pursuit of excellence in choral perfor-
mance (competence) through interesting repertoire
(autonomy) will also enhance feelings of relatedness and
Expectancy Value Theory: Self-
Efficacy, Value, Costs, and Barriers
In this section, I utilize an expectancy theory of motiva-
tion to discuss recruitment in choir. Expectancy theories
of motivation concern individuals’ perceptions of differ-
ent choices or outcomes (Reeve, 2015). Expectancy-
value theory (EVT), while addressing many aspects of
development and motivation, is centered primarily on
Pendergast 5
one straightforward premise—individuals are more likely
to engage in activities they expect to be personally suc-
cessful (self-efficacy) and activities they value (Eccles &
Wigfield, 2020).
Self-efficacy is a belief in one’s ability to accomplish
a specific task (expectancy) (Zelenak, 2020). Value is
delineated by three branches: interest value, attainment
value, and utility value (Eccles & Wig field, 2020).
Interest value addresses the enjoyment one feels when
engaging in an activity. Attainment value refers to the
importance of a task as it relates to the essential aspects of
oneself (identity). Utility value is related to an individu-
al’s short and long-term goals. EVT also includes a third
construct—costs. EVT researchers suggest individuals
avoid activities or actions that cost too much in relation to
their benefits (additional cost distinctions below; Eccles
& Wigfield, 2020). Consequently, recruitment strategies
designed to bolster singing self-efficacy and value while
reducing costs may effectively encourage choral partici-
pation. In summary, an individual’s self-efficacy, values,
and cost perceptions will collectively influence their
decision to engage in an activity.
Strategies Related to Self-Efficacy and Interest
Recruiting strategies that bias toward action and involve-
ment may be particularly effective in supporting self-
efficacy and interest value among students. For example,
some choir directors find success with “Bring a Friend to
Choir” days, where students not enrolled in the choir
may participate in a rehearsal during or after school.
Similar events occur when elementary or middle school
choir students visit the upper-level school for a choir
exchange day or vice-versa. Even simple recruiting
events where choir members bring friends to sing for the
director may be influential. The critical part of these
events is that students sing, socialize together, and fol-
low-up personally (e.g., send a note thanking students
for their participation and organize a follow-up social).
These events may have a more substantial impact than
advertising alone.
There are several reasons action-based events affect
self-efficacy and interest values positively. First, mastery
experiences or hard-won successes tend to be robust sup-
ports for self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997). When students
unfamiliar with choir come together and sing with their
peers or participate in a small voice test with the choir
teacher, they may experience a sense of accomplishment
and develop a stronger belief in their ability to grow as a
singer. Furthermore, these experiences may be especially
supportive of self-efficacy when paired with an emphasis
on a growth mindset (growth from hard work rather than
talent; Hulleman et al., 2016). Second, when students
sing alongside their peers, they observe others’ success
and may begin to see the activity as natural and feasible
(vicarious experience; Bandura, 1997).
For singing experiences to effectively develop interest
value, they should feature elements such as fun (students
enjoy the activity), novelty (the rehearsal is varied and
includes enjoyable twists and turns), relatedness (the
experience occurs within a community of people who
care for each other), autonomy (the activity has a mean-
ingful connection to students’ goals and interests), and
competence (the activity scaffolds skill development in a
way that encourages growth, even in a short time;
Hulleman et al., 2016; Turner et al., 2015). In addition,
singing experiences are physiological and emotional
events (Hendricks, 2016). Like other physical activities,
they induce healthy stress, strain, and release. These
experiences encourage energy and elation, leading to
increases in self-efficacy and interest (Hendricks, 2016).
Finally, action-based recruiting strategies provide you
and your students an opportunity to persuade students to
join the choir.
Strategies Related to Attainment and Utility
Beyond self-efficacy and interest value, attainment and
utility values represent critical distinctions in how and
why students value choral music participation. Attainment
value refers to the importance of a task as it relates to the
essential aspects of oneself (identity). Researchers have
repeatedly demonstrated that some students do not see
their identities (e.g., musical, race/ethnicity, and gender)
as congruent with choral participation (Escalante, 2019;
P. K. Freer, 2010; Hawkinson, 2015). Accordingly, con-
sider which identities are undervalued or absent in your
program. Demonstrate openness to students’ culture,
interests, concerns, and values by teaching in an auton-
omy-supportive and culturally responsive manner
(Reeve, 2016; J. Shaw, 2012). In many respects, recruit-
ing from an attainment value perspective is less a recruit-
ment strategy and more a mode of being—teaching to
remove barriers and provide a home for all students.
Notwithstanding that posture of openness to all students,
one attainment value recruiting strategy might be to
actively recruit students with an existing musical interest
because music is already an important part of their
Extramusical benefits of choir participation such as
group trips, friendships, and community are important
utility value motivators. Utility value is related to an
individual’s short- and long-term goals. Group trips,
social activities, and the desire to belong are reasonable
goals for many adolescents. Understandably, we are
often reluctant to stress extramusical motivators because
they are not grounded in the intrinsic value of the music
itself. Still, the utility value is a natural source of
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motivation and is likely an essential part of recruiting
choir members.
The Role of Costs and Barriers in Choral
EVT researchers highlight an additional and influential
construct that can disrupt the natural connection between
values, self-efficacy, and engagement—the costs of par-
ticipation (Barron & Hulleman, 2015). Costs refer to the
efforts or sacrifices related to activity participation.
Research findings suggest that cost negotiation plays a
vital role in decision-making, but researchers and music
educators may too often overlook the role of costs in
activity involvement (Hawkinson, 2015; Pendergast &
Robinson, 2020; Sin et al., 2021). EVT theorists cite four
types of costs: effort-related, effort-unrelated, loss of val-
ued alternatives, and psychological costs.
Effort-Related Costs. Effort-related costs represent both
the energy and resources an individual must apply to a
task. Students will inevitably consider how hard the choir
class is and the resources required before joining. In
response, adjust the difficulty and time commitment
according to your students’ needs and school environ-
ment. Other effort-related costs include financial con-
straints, after-school rehearsals, travel commitments, and
skill remediation.
Effort-Unrelated Costs and Loss of Valued Alterna-
tives. Effort-unrelated costs and loss of valued alterna-
tives represent effort required in other activities or
activities an individual must forfeit to participate in choir.
This cost structure may be particularly prevalent in small
schools (fewer students to divide among many activities)
and schools where academic achievement is significantly
prioritized (Bannerman, 2019). For choir teachers in
small schools, consider if the structure of the choral pro-
gram provides students with the flexibility to participate
in several activities. For students concerned about choir
interfering with advanced academic classes, nationally
representative studies have shown music participation
does not negatively influence high school completion
rate, college acceptance, or grants/scholarship acquisition
(Elpus, 2018, 2022) Music students even select STEM
majors in college at similar rates to their nonmusic peers
(Elpus, 2018, 2022) As students consider how to spend
their time in school, ensure students can pursue choral
music alongside other activities.
Psychological Costs. Psychological costs are a broad cate-
gory of personal, emotional, or social costs (e.g., anxiety,
embarrassment, and acting outside a social identity).
Some evidence indicates there are psychological costs for
not auditioning into upper-level choral groups, leading
some students to cease choir involvement (Adams, 2020).
This trend is consistent with research on school academic
tracking, where students are well-aware of the status and
perceptions of their academic track, which inevitably
influences their school engagement and how they view
their prospects of success in the future (Cowell & Glos-
senger, 2021; Verhoeven et al., 2019). Therefore, it may
be helpful to contemplate the right balance between hier-
archy and open participation in choral programs (Adams,
2020). One approach might be to provide leadership
opportunities in lower-division ensembles if students are
not accepted into upper-division ensembles. Another
method might be to reduce choral hierarchy structures or
make ensemble promotion contingent on years of experi-
ence rather than audition.
Social Norms. Another aspect of psychological costs is
the norm violation of peers, parents, or other important
people within a social identity group. Social norms are a
shared expectation between people concerning what is
appropriate (Ajzen, 2012). People with a shared social
identity (e.g., gender identity, friendship group, race/eth-
nicity, and cultural background) may also share some
social norms. Individuals weigh the potential psychologi-
cal costs of participating in activities that conflict with the
norms of their social network or prevailing cultural back-
ground. For this reason, try to orient choral performance,
curriculum, and activities toward the culture and values
of students from as many identity groups as possible.
This orientation is in keeping with concepts from attain-
ment value (Hulleman et al., 2016), autonomy-supportive
teaching (Reeve, 2016), and culturally responsive peda-
gogy (J. Shaw, 2012). One way to understand and even
influence the norms in your school is to become involved
in other school activities. One’s centrality in the school’s
social network will affect their understanding of social
norms and their ability to influence social norms through-
out the school (Christakis & Fowler, 2009).
Barriers. Beyond costs, be sure to consider outright barri-
ers to participation in the choral program. Barriers repre-
sent a complete lack of access to music classes rather than
conflicts of energy, obligations, or interests. Although
many barriers occur at a macro-level (e.g., state funding
and lack of access in small schools/charter schools/low-
SES schools), there are school-level barriers as well (Pen-
dergast, 2020). First, consider if your scheduling practices
block students from certain academic tracks, special edu-
cation classes, or English-Language Learning classes from
participating in the choral program (Cowell & Glossenger,
2021; Elpus, 2013; Verhoeven et al., 2019). Structure your
courses in a manner that provides the most flexibility in
scheduling. Second, just as in the effort-related costs,
Pendergast 7
consider if your choral program is open to students from all
ability backgrounds.
Choir Participation Is Complicated—
and That’s OK
The sociopsychological concepts enumerated in this arti-
cle provide a framework for understanding choral music
participation and revitalizing our practices to promote
choral participation. Still, be mindful that these theories
do not represent a panacea for increasing choral involve-
ment. These elements provide helpful but imprecise
directions about encouraging students’ participation.
Choral music participation is complex, and the details of
our teaching, retention, and recruitment practice will
require experimentation and development over time.
Moreover, I attempted to highlight the complexity of
choral participation. Teacher behaviors, student motiva-
tions, identities, communities, school environments, and
other factors interact to influence music participation in
school music programs. Given the motivation frame-
works detailed previously, differences between choral
programs are to be expected and welcomed. Your choral
program should serve your students’ musical aspirations,
energies, and passions while also allowing for the unique
strengths, features, and constraints of your school system.
Therefore, examine your classes considering the concepts
presented in this article. Decide the best practices for
serving your students, encouraging their involvement,
and supporting their musical growth.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with
respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
The author(s) received no financial support for the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Seth Pendergast
Adams, K. A. (2020). Adolescent self-theories of singing abil-
ity within the choral hierarchy [Doctoral dissertation,
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Full-text available
In adapting to remote emergency teaching modes during pandemic-imposed conditions, teachers’ instruction has changed dramatically. Early research indicates that the well-being of music teachers has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic and that high levels of depression are widespread. The purpose of this survey study was to assess the continued psychological well-being of music teachers working amid a global pandemic based upon previous research we conducted during the Spring 2020 semester when most teachers in the United States were forced into emergency remote teaching. A secondary purpose was to explore the ways that pandemic conditions have affected music teachers’ sense of safety at work and their current teaching situations. Our questionnaire consisted of sections pertaining to (1) demographic and institutional information, (2) well-being and depression, (3) instructional format and preparedness, (4) teaching efficacy compared to the start of the pandemic, and (5) potential positive outcomes of the pandemic-imposed adjustments. In total, 1,325 music teachers responded to our survey. Overall, the participants reported poorer well-being than both published norms and the sample of participants in our previous study. In addition, 17% reported mild depression, 25% reported moderate depression, and 24% reported severe extremely severe levels of depression. Summaries of the participants instructional experiences and their implications for music education are discussed within.
Full-text available
In this article, we systematically reviewed the research literature dealing with expectancy-value motivation theory within music contexts. Employing the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) approach, a total of 1,120 records were retrieved and examined, with 110 eventually included in the analyses. Frequencies/percentages were generated for research output in 5-year time periods, type of publication, sampling locations, and methodologies. Summaries of all 110 records were provided; content analyses on topics covered were also conducted. Findings indicated a clear increase in research interest over the past 15 years with quantitative methodologies being twice as prevalent as qualitative approaches. While the vast majority (97.7%) of quantitative research employed self-report questionnaires, the most common form of qualitative data collection was interviews (59.1%). Salient topics covered included students’ expectancy-value beliefs across music and other school subjects, continued music participation, intentions to pursue a career in music, and parental influences.
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The global pandemic caused by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in spring 2020 resulted in schools moving to remote learning (RL) models for the remainder of the academic year. The purpose of this study was to examine the practices, experiences, and perspectives of elementary and secondary school band directors in relation to RL during this period. Directors (N = 462) responded to survey questions related to several aspects of RL, including (a) technologies and materials, (b) activities and assessments, (c) student participation, (d) the challenges of teaching remotely, and (e) the extent to which experiences varied among participants in low-poverty versus high-poverty schools and at the elementary/middle school level versus high school level. I also examined (f) the conditions and practices of programs that experienced both high and consistent levels of student participation. Data indicated that the COVID-19 shutdown created many challenges for directors, particularly in schools with higher poverty levels and/or in rural locations. However, RL also created opportunities for instrumental teachers to incorporate into curricula (a) a wider range of technology; (b) more of a focus on individual musicianship; (c) lessons in music theory, history, and culture; and to a lesser extent, (d) student creativity through composition and arranging.
The purpose of this study was to explore adolescent self-views of singing ability through both implicit theories (i.e., fixed mindset and growth mindset) and self-concept meaning systems in the context of a choral hierarchy. Using a survey instrument modified from Dweck (1999) to measure self-theories of singing ability, I gathered data from middle and high school participants currently enrolled in a hierarchical choral structure. I analyzed descriptive statistics of survey responses to items designed to measure implicit theories of singing ability, singing self-concept, and goal orientation and differences among participants by ensemble placement in implicit theory and self-concept scores. In addition to these quantitative measures, I coded open-ended responses to two failure scenarios and examined participant responses by ensemble and gender. Both implicit theory and self-concept scores were higher for participants at the top of the choral hierarchy. Open-ended responses indicated that failure scenarios were associated with lowered self-concept and shame in ensemble placement, especially for female-identifying participants.
Applied social psychology combines the science of social psychology with the practical application of solving social problems that exist in the real world. This exciting textbook provides a thorough explanation of how social psychologists can contribute to the understanding and management of different social problems. A highly prestigious team of contributors from across Europe and the United States illustrate how social psychological theories, research methods and intervention techniques can be successfully applied to social problems encountered in the fields of physical and mental health, integration and immigration issues, gender issues, organizational issues, economic behaviour, political behaviour, environmental behaviour and education. Each field studied features an overview of important problems, the role of human behaviour in these problems, the factors influencing relevant behaviour, and effective ways to change this behaviour. This is an essential volume for all undergraduate and graduate students studying applied social psychology.
The purpose of this study was to examine how high-performing secondary school students perceive their school music ensemble participation in relationship to their social identity. Research questions included the following: (1) How do participants rate their primary large ensemble membership in relationship to their self-concept?; (1a) How do selected variables: type of ensemble (i.e. band, orchestra, choir), age, time dedicated per week, and leadership positions, collectively and individually predict the importance of participants’ primary large ensemble membership to their self-concept? (2) How do participants rate their personal judgments of how valuable their primary large ensemble membership is compared to their perception of how others view their ensemble membership? (3) How do participants’ scores on the Social and Personal Identities Scale compare with previous research findings involving individuals engaged in the arts? To address the research questions, adolescent band, orchestra, and choir musicians (N = 126, 86.3% response rate) participating in a summer performing arts camp completed a paper and pencil survey about their high school music ensemble experiences. The survey included general and music demographic questions as well as a modified version of the Collective Self-Esteem Scale (CSE) and the Social and Personal Identities Scale (SIPI) as a means of measuring social identity and the salience of their group memberships. In general, participants self-identified as active members of their high school music program, with 66.6% holding some level of leadership position, and participants reported devoting an average of eight hours per week to their primary ensemble. Most respondents reported taking private music lessons, participating in additional music ensembles, and holding memberships in other non-music groups at the same time. Results of this study include: (a) participants who reported holding a major, or significant, leadership position indicated that their primary large ensemble membership had a greater importance to their self-concept, (b) respondents’ perceptions of how others evaluate their large ensemble was strongly related to their personal judgments of how favorable their large ensemble was, and (c) participants in this study indicated a lower desire for uniqueness and independence within their social groups and, consequently, were more likely to emphasize conformity in their social groups when compared to previous research findings. Implications for music education practice include recommendations that music teachers: (a) aim to situate their ensemble in a socially favorable position, (b) strive to maximize leadership opportunities without diluting the value of these positions, and (c) consider how to create a greater sense of unity and inclusiveness within their ensembles. Additionally, pre-service music teachers would likely benefit from a deeper understanding of theories related to social identity and how they can be applied to their future environments. Suggestions for future research and a possible extension of theories related to identity and music participation are discussed.
This study explored the transition from secondary to postsecondary education among a national sample of students who had or had not studied music in high school. Using evidence from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, a nationally representative longitudinal study of 21,440 American high school students who were ninth graders in the 2009–2010 school year, music and nonmusic students were compared for college admission outcomes. Specifically, music and nonmusic students were compared in terms of participation in the college admission process, the selectivity of colleges applied to and attended, scholarship and grant receipt, and election of either an arts or STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) major. Comparisons controlled for the well-documented preexisting differences among those students who do and do not elect high school music study. Results showed that music and nonmusic students dropped out of high school, applied to college, attended college, received college scholarships and grants, and majored in STEM fields at statistically similar rates. However, music students were considerably more likely to major in a visual or performing arts field than nonmusic students. These results suggest that school music study does not disadvantage students in the transition to college even when compared with peers who elected additional “academic” subjects in lieu of music.
Albert Bandura identified self-efficacy as the dominant self-perception shaping action, effort, and achievement. In music education, researchers have identified a positive relationship between self-efficacy and achievement, but how can music educators develop self-efficacy to improve achievement? This article offers a description of self-efficacy and provides practical strategies to promote its development in music education. These strategies can be applied in any music learning environment so that music educators may be more fully prepared to integrate activities that build self-efficacy into their instruction, enabling their students to reach higher levels of achievement.
Grounded in a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (HMIEM), the primary aim of this study was to test a full motivational sequence at the contextual level in a high school ensemble setting (Social-Contextual Factors → Psychological Needs → Motivation → Consequences). I specifically examined the relationships between multifaceted variables within this sequence, including teacher-created social contexts, psychosocial needs, types of motivation, and consequences. A secondary purpose of this study was to determine whether gender would impact the results of the sequence of motivational processes. Structural equation modeling analysis with a sample of 425 high school ensemble students revealed that social-contextual factors provided by the teachers were related to satisfaction of fundamental autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs, which in turn influenced intrinsic motivation, positive motivational outcomes, and persistence in musical activities. The multistep invariance analysis also revealed the model to be invariant for males and females. The results of the study supported the HMIEM and validated the application of the motivational sequence in the context of music education.