Choral Confidence: Some Effects of Choir Configuration, Cohesion and Collaboration

Michael Bonshor


An exploration of confidence issues amongst adult amateur choral singers is an in-depth, qualitative study based on a series of focus groups and semi-structured interviews with active participants in organized amateur singing activities. The aim of the research is to explore the lived-in experience of choral singers; to identify some of the main influences on their perceptions of their voices and performance ability; to highlight some of the factors affecting their confidence as singers. Three initial focus groups, involving eighteen singers in total, have been completed, followed by sixteen individual interviews. The one-to-one sessions involved semi-structured interviews with an equal number of singers of each gender. Each singer had experience of a range of different types of choral singing. The majority of participants also had extensive experience of performing with a number of different conductors. The emergent themes and significant issues identified so far will be used to inform the next stage of the study. Some of the main themes include situational and environmental factors; family background; the influence of significant others, including parents, teachers, spouses, adult offspring and fellow singers; the impact of musical education, including school, further education and private tuition; and a number of significant issues related to choral direction. For the purposes of triangulation, the next stage of the project will include interviews with conductors of adult, amateur choral ensembles. It is hoped that this research will result in a set of useful recommendations for singers, teachers and conductors with an interest in confidence issues.

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