Whole school singing at two Canadian independent secondary schools: "it is the life-blood of our school"
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the phenomenon of whole-school communal singing at two Canadian independent secondary schools. Research questions included: What does the practice of whole-school communal singing look like, how is it experienced by participants, and how has the practice been initiated and maintained? Previous research on whole school singing at the secondary school level is scant. This suited an exploratory, phenomenological research methodology for the present study. Pascale’s (2005) two aesthetics of singing provided the theoretical framework. The idea that choral singing can be approached through a broader lens than is currently practiced in typical choral education contexts helped to characterize whole school singing as a communal singing practice. Research literature explored prior to data analysis focused on communal singing, defined as participatory singing by everyone in a non-choir community. Examples included crowd singing at sports games, at protest marches, and in churches. Communal singing in North America was more popular in the early 20th century than today, which may explain its rareness in contemporary secondary schools. Data were collected through interviews with 17 current and former students, faculty and administrators at two schools. Analysis was conducted using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), supported by NVivo software, and resulted in five overarching themes. The first was that all the research participants expressed a strong positive regard for the practice of whole school singing; the second was that communal singing may contribute to student belongingness. The third overarching theme was that communal singing appears to mediate emotions and may contribute to student wellness; fourth, that the approach taken to whole school singing at the two schools prioritizes full participation over achieving aesthetic qualities typically espoused by performance choirs. The fifth theme was that whole school singing at the secondary school level is not easy to initiate and maintain, but requires specific leadership, intention, and strategy in order to create a fully participative, engaging, and joyful experience in a secondary school context. Post data analysis, findings were compared and contrasted with those from related research. Recommendations are provided for educators who may wish to consider incorporating communal singing into school life.