Relationships of Dimensions of the Meaning of the Choral Experience to High School Students’ Preferences for Concert vs. Show Choir
Farmer, William Dale
Type of Degreedissertation
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The growth of the show choir since the 1970’s has caused controversy among choral music educators. In spite of the traditional paradigm which questions the value and validity of show choirs, their presence and significance continue to increase in music education. The purpose of this study was to determine to what degree high school choral music students prefer to participate in concert-type choirs and show choirs. Also examined was the perceived meaning of the choral singing experience and how dimensions of meaning might predict students’ preferences for participation in each type of choir. To address the research questions, an adaptation of the Choral Meaning Survey (Hylton, 1980) was administered. Students (N = 307) from 7 high schools in Alabama and Georgia participated in the study. Results indicated a very strong overall preference for show choir participation with 239 respondents (77.9%) selecting “strongly agree” and only 4 respondents (1.3%) selecting “strongly disagree.” Conversely, for concert-type choir, only 65 (21.2%) selected “strongly agree” and 32 (10.8%) “strongly disagree.” Principal components analyses were performed to examine the perceived meaning of the choral experience for high school students who participate in choirs that perform both concert-type and show-choir music. While there was consistency with items related to two of Hylton’s factors, Spiritualistic and Musical/Artistic, items from the remaining four, Achievement, Communication, Integrative, and Psychological, appeared to converge on the first resulting factor. Given the interrelationships presented by many of these items, the investigator created a fourth variable, Social Interactivity. The six identified dimensions, Social Interactivity, Spiritualistic, Physical Activity, Musical-Artistic, Dance, and Travel were used to conduct a discriminant function analysis to determine which dimensions of choral meaning predict student preference for participation in concert-type choirs or show choirs. DFA results indicated that 59.6% of the originally grouped cases were correctly classified. Of those preferring show choir 64.2% were correctly classified, 50% preferring concert choir were correctly identified, and 48.1% preferring both equally were correctly identified. Of the six identified factors, dance was statistically significant ( p < .001), indicating that it predicts preference for show choir but not concert choir or preferring both equally. Results of this study show that high school choral musicians have a strong regard for participating in show choirs. While they do not reject the performance of concert music, it is not at the forefront of their preference. Choral directors who can balance their curricula to be as diverse as possible will conceivably be able to involve more high school choral musicians.