Forty years on: a case study of a group of singers over sixty in South Africa

Van Niekerk, Caroline, Joseph, Dawn and Page-Ships, Roy 2016, Forty years on: a case study of a group of singers over sixty in South Africa, in ISME 2016 : Proceedings of the International Society for Music Education 32nd World Conference on Music Education, International Society for Music Education (ISME), Malvern, Vic., pp. 298-305.

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Title Forty years on: a case study of a group of singers over sixty in South Africa
Author(s) Van Niekerk, Caroline
Joseph, DawnORCID iD for Joseph, Dawn
Page-Ships, Roy
Conference name ISME World Conference on Music Education (32nd : 2016 : Glasgow, Scotland)
Conference location Glasgow, Scotland
Conference dates 25-29 Jul. 2016
Title of proceedings ISME 2016 : Proceedings of the International Society for Music Education 32nd World Conference on Music Education
Editor(s) Forest, D.
Godwin, L.
Publication date 2016
Start page 298
End page 305
Total pages 8
Publisher International Society for Music Education (ISME)
Place of publication Malvern, Vic.
Keyword(s) community
social engagement
Summary South Africa boasts a rich history of music and culture across language and cultural groups and singing in particular plays a rich and dynamic aspect in the nation. Internationally, research has shown the myriad social, mental and emotional benefits of singing and belonging to a choir. Though there are several reasons why people join and remain in ensembles and groups, the most common seem to emanate from the sheer joy of music making and sharing that people gain from the experience of feeling good about themselves when singing, combined with the aesthetic, social and spiritual aspects that enhance their quality of life in general.This paper focuses on twelve business and professional members of a singing ensemble that started in Pretoria 40 years ago. Pretoria, the administrative capital in the province of Gauteng, has a predominantly Afrikaans speaking community. Yet this qualitative case study focuses on a ‘White English’ speaking minority group (11 male and 1 female) and forms part of a wider study on ‘Spirituality and Well-being: Music in the community’. The group meet weekly for rehearsals (approximately 90 minutes); members’ age range from 60s- 80s. They sing a wide range of repertoire ranging from madrigals to songs from musicals. In 2015, interview and questionnaire data was gathered from all the group members. We used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to analyse and code the data in order to understand how the group makes sense of their experiences and the meanings they attach to them. Two overarching themes emerged: membership benefits and spiritual connections. The findings show that benefits related mainly to fulfilment of personal, including musical, needs, although all members were gratified that their singing provided enjoyment to community audiences and benefits to disadvantaged communities, mainly from ticket sale proceeds. All members saw an association between singing and the spiritual, but only a minority identified a religious connotation, the remainder relating it to ‘the human spirit’. Limitations to the study are recognized and generalisations cannot be made to other choirs. Further research also needs to be undertaken with instrumental musicians to gain a better sense of how spirituality and well-being impacts on music sharing and making.
Language eng
Field of Research 190407 Music Performance
111712 Health Promotion
111714 Mental Health
130101 Continuing and Community Education
Socio Economic Objective 950101 Music
HERDC Research category E1 Full written paper - refereed
ERA Research output type E Conference publication
Copyright notice ©2016, International Society for Music Education (ISME)
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