Understanding Complex Influences Affecting Participation in Singing

Colleen Whidden

Abstract


Singing is usually an enjoyable activity but not to those who have labelled themselves as non-singers. The purpose of this research is to identify why there are societal members who self-designate as non-singers, if this perception may be altered, and what implications are applicable to the music profession. Narrative inquiry methodology was utilized in this study of adult non-singers.
Through the lens of narrative methodology, four themes emerged. The first theme is negative childhood experiences of singing adversely affected participation in singing and their concept of self as singer. The majority of participants described this childhood experience as a negative interaction with a teacher. The second theme is there was a strong negative emotional connection between childhood singing experiences and self-perception later in life. The third theme is the participants have internalized the negative emotional outcome of these childhood experiences causing this perception of themselves as non-singers. Finally, there was a complete belief in the authority figures proclamation. Participants fully committed to the authority figures proclamation about their singing ability.
The idea that negative comments made by teachers have the potential for longevity in a students life needs to be evaluated by music educators. This research is advocating for an awareness of the individual and an acceptance of their level in the musical spectrum. Students will not all be at the same musical level but all will develop from their point of initiation. This phenomenon, unfortunately, is still apparent in this new millennium and is affecting music learning through singing in todays students.

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