Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Singing Improves Children’s Lives and Futures


Why We Sing, Part II

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 about children’s involvement in choral singing, taken almost verbatim from a news release issued by Chorus America in June, 2009. In an earlier post (HERE), I shared the portions of the study having to do with adult choristers. Here’s the good news about choral singing for children:
According to a new 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.

The 2009 study included a new component that explicitly examined the effects choral singing has on childhood development. The results show children who sing in choirs display many of the enhanced social skills found in adult singers, substantiating earlier conclusions that singing in childhood is likely to have an enormous influence on the choices individuals make later in life. Additionally, both parents and educators attribute a significant proportion of a child's academic success to singing in a choir.

Children who sing in choruses have academic success and valuable life skills. Several of the study's major findings for young singers include:

♪ Approximately 10.1 million American children sing in choruses today.

♪ The majority of parents surveyed believe multiple skills increased after their child joined a chorus. Seventy-one percent say their child has become more self-confident, 70% say their child's self-discipline has improved, and 69% state their child's memory skills have improved.

♪ More than 80% of educators surveyed—across multiple academic disciplines—agree with parent assessments that choir participation can enhance numerous aspects of a child's social development and academic success. Educators also observe that children who sing are better participants in group activities, have better emotional expression, and exhibit better emotional management.

♪ 90% of educators believe singing in a choir can keep some students engaged in school who might otherwise be lost—this is particularly true of educators (94%) who describe the ethnicity of their schools as diverse.

♪ Children who participate in a chorus get significantly better grades than children who have never sung in a choir. Forty-five percent of parents whose children sing state their child receives “all or mostly A's” in mathematics (vs. 38% of non-choir parents) and 54% get “all or mostly A's” in English and other language arts classes (vs. 43%).

A conclusion of the 2003 study was that choral singing is an accessible entry point for arts exposure, with fewer barriers—economic, cultural, and educational—than posed by other art forms. This is still true today, suggesting that the decrease in choral singing opportunities in schools and communities is a missed opportunity for bolstering student achievement and engagement in their schools.



Here’s a link to the full report:

http://www.chorusamerica.org/about_choralsinging.cfm

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