Visual and Vocal Expression in Traditional Choirs: An Explanatory-Sequential, Mixed-Methods Design
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Curriculum and Teaching
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The purpose of this study was to examine choir director perceptions of vocal and visual expression, determine what constitutes visual and vocal expression, and more concretely define what vocal and visual expression are in a 21st century choral world. I chose a two-part, explanatory-sequential mixed-methods design because it provided multiple levels of data, seeking to further operationalize vocal and visual expression. I gathered data using an online survey and semi-structured interviews. Survey participants, N = 30, were current or former school or community choir directors. I selected interview participants, N = 12, based on their professional renown as accomplished choral directors. In both the survey and semi-structured interviews, participants watched choral performances and discussed elements of vocal and visual expression displayed in both. Survey data yielded three themes for vocal expression and four themes for visual expression. Emergent themes for vocal expression were lyrically driven, musically driven, and intent, whereas themes for visual expression were authentic communication, visual/vocal congruence, purposeful physicality, and storytelling. Interview data revealed four themes for vocal and visual expression. Vocal expression themes were elements of vocal expression; unity, development, and contrast; intent; and quality music. Visual expression themes were body language, purposeful communication, context driven, and supporting visual expression. Implications include greater understanding of specific elements of vocal and visual expression, need for inclusion of vocal and visual expression in state rubrics, and greater understanding about evaluating and coaching expression.