Adult community orchestras in Texas: activity and background profiles of participants with a report of organizational standing
Brown, Kathryn Dharlene
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The purpose of this study was to identify and assess Texas community orchestras and create a demographic and musical profile of participants. This was accomplished through use of two online questionnaires. A director survey questionnaire determined the organizational status of each orchestra. The directors surveyed were leaders in these organizations who provided information about their orchestras’ founding, budget, and membership numbers. The participant survey questionnaire was adapted from Bowen’s 1995 study of community band participants in the southeastern United States. Participant data included educational and musical training, musical activities, and demographics. Bowen’s study guided this venture in expanding a profile of community musicians to include those in community orchestras. Eleven of the 18 community orchestras identified in Texas responded to the questionnaires distributed, with 361 participant questionnaires returned. Although many music making opportunities for adults are available in Texas, the existence of only 18 community orchestras in the state indicates a tremendous gap between school music making and adult music making in these types of ensembles, given 44,000 Texas school orchestras reported competing in 2010–2011. Research has shown that making music increases the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual wellbeing of those who take part. As serious leisure, community music making experiences enable those involved an opportunity to engage in a challenging, satisfying, and meaningful activity. All members of a community should have access to such opportunities because these activities may improve their quality of life. According to the profiles in the participant survey questionnaires, the following activities may encourage more participation in adult music making: Offering diverse music making opportunities, intergenerational music activities, encouraging community music experiences, and the modeling adult music making by teachers.