How To Get Boys To Sing In The Choir
A researcher has found that supportive mothers and music teachers are instrumental in helping school-age boys maintain an interest in singing.
Asian Scientist (Jul. 12, 2013) - A researcher in Australia has found that supportive mothers and music teachers are instrumental in helping school-age boys maintain an interest in singing.
Enormously popular reality TV singing competitions attract plenty of male contestants, but getting school-age boys involved in singing remains a serious challenge for music educators.
Current programs such as The Voice and Australian Idol appeared to have had little impact on the view, commonly held at schoolboy level, that boys interested in singing were 'girly' or 'queer'.
To better understand the factors at work, Monash University researcher Dr Clare Hall studied of a group of dedicated and highly accomplished choirboys.
"How do these choirboys find ways to resist peer pressure or discouraging cultural messages that say singing is a 'soft option' for boys?" Dr Hall said.
She analyzed the strong relationship between choirboys' musical dispositions, their mothers' support and music teachers' practices to develop sociological insights into how musical identities can be formed.
"Early in life children regulate their musical dispositions according to what they think is acceptable for their gender," said Dr Hall.
"The choirboys in the study are extremely proud and passionate about their singing, and they don't see themselves as feminine at all, despite realizing this is how others may view them. They realize they have valuable skills that set them apart from others.
"But being a 'different' kind of boy from the norm isn't easy. It takes huge amounts of persistence and emotional resources."
She found that one of the most significant influences in a boy's musical development is his mother's attitude.
"The mothers make great investments in their children's musical education. These are the kinds of investments we more commonly associate with mums and their children's sport," Dr Hall said.
"The choirboys rely on their mothers emotionally to weather the ups and downs it takes to become a high-performing musician."
Supportive music teachers were also crucial: the choirboys in the study all had teachers who encouraged them to sing and empowered them in some way.
"It is not only male teachers who role-model and influence boys' gender identities. Often it's the female teachers who give boys the emotional resources to cope with being a 'different' kind of boy," said Dr Hall.
Dr Hall plans to continue the study of boys' experiences of singing to learn how others from a range of social and cultural backgrounds find ways to pursue their musical aspirations despite the difficulties.
Source: Monash University; Photo: Jing Qu/Flickr.
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