Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Musical expression in the high school choral classroom
by Maas, Andrea, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2016, 321; 10117744
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored with high school choral directors and singers, their experiences of musical expression in the choral classroom setting. A phenomenological approach to a collective case study was used to address the notions of “what”, “why”, and “how” in regard to the relationships and interactions between choral directors, singers, their personal experiences and musical texts as they pertain to musical expression. Four high school choral programs participated in this study. One choral director and a focus group of 4-7 students from each program participated in open-ended, semi-structured, interviews. Video recorded observations of choral rehearsals provided media for additional stimulated recall interviews that used both open-ended and framing techniques. These interviews served as the primary method of data collection to help examine how the participants conceptualized and practiced musical expression.

The high school choral directors and singers of this study described musical expression in broad terms but agreed that it can be understood as both a means of conveying and understanding meanings and emotions. The participants addressed considerations and conditions such as engagement, their emotional response to the repertoire, composer intent, the classroom environment and obstacles such as the difficulty of the score or external distractions. They described specific approaches such as collaborative meaning making of musical contexts, formal elements of a score, and text. Implications are addressed for the ways choral directors approach repertoire selection, classroom configuration, rehearsal strategies, building relationships, delivering content, helping students to develop vocal skills and techniques and the use of collaborative learning and dialog to encourage ensemble interpretations. Participants also described optimal experiences of musical expression in regard to enjoyment, release of tension and perceived time and space. This study helped to uncover some of the ways high school choral directors and singers attempt to acknowledge each member’s individuality while working toward a unified ensemble expression. The data revealed that collectively, the four participating programs shared many common ideas and yet each ensemble had a unique and nuanced approach to musical expression that reflected the values, beliefs and experiences of the choir and its members.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Abeles, Harold F., Custodero, Lori
Commitee: Hubard, Olga, Souto-Manning, Mariana
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
Department: Arts and Humanities
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Music education, Secondary education
Keywords: Choral, Chorus, Expression, Expressivity, Singing, Vocal
Publication Number: 10117744
ISBN: 978-1-339-79117-3
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