Effects of group singing and performance for marginalized and middle-class singers

B. Bailey, Jane Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


In western society music performance is generally considered fromthe perspective of the elite performer, and the performance literature within thepsychology of music has been representative of this preoccupation. But, in spiteof much attention being directed to the ‘how’ of creating exceptionalperformances, little attention has been given to the ‘why’ of performance. Resultsof an investigation with members of a choir for homeless men indicated thatgroup singing and performance, at the most amateur levels of musicality, yieldedconsiderable emotional, social and cognitive benefits. The present article furtherexplores the effects of group singing and performance with (a) a second choirformed for homeless and other marginalized individuals who had little or nomusic training or group singing experience, and (b) middle-class singers with lowto high levels of music training and choral singing experience. Results indicatethat the emotional effects of participation in group singing are similar regardlessof training or socioeconomic status, but the interpersonal and cognitivecomponents of the choral experience have different meanings for themarginalized and middle-class singers. Whereas the marginalized individualsappear to embrace all aspects of the group singing experience, the middle-classchoristers are inhibited by prevalent social expectations of musicianship. Theoutcomes may be of relevance to music educators, therapists and choralconductors who wish to create a choral environment in which the benefits ofsinging and performance override elitist concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-303
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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