The Singing Classroom: A Community of Musicians


  • Lori-Anne Dolloff University of Toronto


Singing is a powerful human activity. The intentional use of our body to create musical sounds is an intensely felt physical, spiritual and cognitive pursuit. When people sing songs, even at the most beginning level, they are drawing on an incredible amount of what David Elliott has characterized as "procedural knowledge" or knowing-in-action (Elliott, 1993, 1995). Procedural knowledge is one component of musicianship, a highly complex, multidimensional form of knowledge that develops over the course of an individual's experience with music. Access to her singing voice is not only every student's right, it is also central to the development of musicianship (Rao, 1997). Singing is a key way that individuals develop and demonstrate their musical knowledge, their musicianship. But singing is more than an individual aurally demonstrating her musicianship. Recent research in music education stresses the multi-dimensional nature of music making as both an aural/physical phenomenon and a social one (Bowman, I993a, p. 55). The sounds touch us and the social nature binds us in community. To think of one feature without the other is to miss an essential characteristic of what makes music "music", and yet so often we concentrate on how to improve our production of the sound qualities of music, without looking at the concomitant social effects of making music together. Music education philosopher Wayne Bowman has eloquently linked the two.