Monday, August 3, 2009
Communal Expression, Creation, and Performance
Why We Sing, Part I
As a chorister and as one who writes about choral singing, I’m always interested in understanding more about our communal attraction to the choral arts. Here’s some interesting information, taken almost verbatim from a news release issued by Chorus America in June 2009:
According to a recent study by Chorus America, an estimated 32.5 million American adults regularly sing in at least one of 270,000 choruses nationwide, up from the 23.5 million estimated in 2003. And when children are included, there are 42.6 million Americans singing in choruses in 2009. More than 1 in 5 households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children.
That’s good news, because singing in one of the 270,000 choruses in the U.S., such as a community chorus or a school or church choir, is strongly correlated with qualities that are associated with success throughout life, the study finds. Greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by singing with a choral ensemble.
Chorus America first evaluated the benefits of choral singing and its impact on communities in a 2003 study. The results from this latest research support and advance earlier findings that choral singers exhibit increased social skills, civic involvement, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers.
A few of the current study’s major findings for adult singers include:
♪ Choral singers exhibit higher levels of civic involvement, with choristers almost 3 times more likely to be officers or committee members of local community organizations such as the PTA.
♪ 78% of choral singers indicated they “at least sometimes” volunteer their time in their communities, while only 50% of the general public say the same.
♪ 74% of choral singers agree or strongly agree that singing in a chorus has helped them become better team leaders or team participants in other areas of their lives; nearly two-thirds agree or strongly agree that being in a chorus has helped them socialize better in other areas of their lives.
♪ Choral singers donate 2.5 times more money to philanthropic organizations than the general public.
♪ 96% of choral singers surveyed who are eligible voters said they vote regularly in national and local elections; only 70% of the general public cites the same level of participation.
♪ Civic engagement also extends to patronage of other art forms, with choral singers at least 2 times more likely to attend theater, opera, and orchestra performances as well as visit museums and art galleries.
A large percentage of the American population appears to be drawn to choral singing and the desire to participate in the communal expression, creation, and performance of beautiful music. Whatever motivates choral singers to sing, the data indicates that choral singing is a thriving and growing form of artistic expression in America, and can be acknowledged not just for providing great musical performances, but for advancing many of the positive qualities associated with success in life both for children and adults.
Here’s a link to the full report:
Chorus America also looked at the effect of choral singing in children’s lives, and I’ll share those findings in another essay here.