A Case Study of the Process of an Adult Female Learning to Sing in a Senior Chorus

Mary L. Cohen, Erin Smith


The purpose of this study is to examine, over nine months, the perceptions and processes of an adult female who is learning to sing with a chorus for adults over 50 years old. The three-part process is as follows: 1) exploring the history of her life story with respect to previous singing experiences, perceptions, and frustrations, 2) assessing her vocal skills with respect to vocal range, body alignment, breath management, and pitch accuracy, and 3) developing her ability to match pitch with other singers and to sing harmony with the chorus. The following research questions guided the investigation: 1) Why did this particular person not learn to sing while growing up? 2) How does not singing earlier in her life affect her self-identity and her self-perception? 3) What elements of her individual and group singing practice help and hinder her ability to sing with the chorus? And 4) How does learning to sing with the chorus affect her self-identity and her self-perception?
This embedded case study (Yin, 2003) employed a grounded theory qualitative methodology (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Data collection included written reflections from three music teachers who alternately worked with the singer twice per week, vocal range, duration of a singing a middle C on loo, written reflections from the singer, in-depth interviews with the singer, and direct observation. Open, selective, and axial coding were used for data analysis and theory generation.
Findings and implications for choral music education are described. Further research directions and studies are suggested.

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