Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Church Musicians' Participation Perceptions: Applications to Community Music

Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Church Musicians' Participation Perceptions: Applications to Community Music

Article excerpt

Church musicians' participation perceptions: Applications to community music

Churches are important community enterprises that have the potential to benefit individuals' quality of life. Spirituality has been cited as a positive aspect related to healthy aging (Brunk, 1996; Gall, et al., 2005; Hembeck, 2007; Hylton, 1981; Kahn, 1997; Levkoff, Chee, & Noguchi, 2002; Manheimer, 2000) and Cutler and Danigelis (1993) found that membership in church-affiliated groups was related to life satisfaction. Community music studies have also cited perceptions of improved quality of life issues (Olson, 1997; Rohwer & Coffman, 2006) as well as musical enjoyment (Belz, 1994; Coffman & Adamek, 1999; Faivre-Ransom, 2001; Jutras, 2006; Pike, 2001). Studies specific to both music and spirituality have documented a perceived impact of music participation on spirituality for adult band instrumentalists (Kahn, 1997; Reed, 2008) and adult pianists (Jutras, 2006), however in one study, non-band members were found to have higher spirituality scores than band members (Rohwer & Coffman, 2006).

Church music studies have documented the status of church choirs as informal music-making enterprises that happen in communities (Faivre-Ransom, 2001; Ihm, 1994; Peterson, 2001; Seago, 1993; Tipps, 1992; Titcomb, 2000; Zoschke, 1991) as well as documenting members' perceptions of issues related to participation, such as: (1) the trend for church singers to have high scores on self-perception of singing ability (Peterson, 2001), (2) the procedures used for learning new music, and the perception for singing to be for the purpose of worship more than performance (Titcomb, 2000), (3) the perceived enjoyment of moderate-level, instead of difficult music to prepare for Sunday services (Zoschke, 1991), and (4) the perception that leading congregational singing and singing anthems were primary functions of church choir participation (Ihm, 1994).

In addition, music studies have noted reasons why members join and continue participation in music ensembles. Musical and social goals have been cited in numerous studies (Adderly, Kennedy & Bertz, 2003; Belz, 1994; Coffin, 2005; Coffman, 1996; Cooper, 1996; Darrough, 1990; Hylton 1981, Kennedy 2002; Pike, 2001; Rohwer, 2009; Rohwer & Rohwer, 2009; Seago, 1993). Studies have found pianists to rate social benefits low, and skill and personal benefits as high (Cooper, 1996; Jutras; 2006; Swenson, 2006), while choir members have rated social benefits highest (Kennedy, 2002; Rohwer & Rohwer, 2009) and adult band members cited musical and social benefits as equally enjoyable aspects of band participation (Coffman, 1996). Hence, these perceptions may have different weights based on ensemble type.

As a specific community enterprise, there is a need to understand how issues related to joining and participating in an ensemble manifest themselves in church choir settings. Research has documented a basic link between community music and church choir, with church music experiences being the most common musical experiences of adult community choir participants prior to high school graduation (Tipps, 1992), and church choir involvement being an influential factor on later community music participation (Faivre-Ransom, 2001). It may be, however, that there are aspects of church music as community music that differ from common community music practice traditions. For instance, practitioner, opinion-based articles (Bell, 2006; Hawn, 2007; Hinson, 1998) have highlighted the idiosyncratic nature of the church choir, where there is limited time to prepare music for services each week, and where worship may be more important than music. And yet, there may be similarities in the needs and challenges of church choirs and other community ensembles, such as the spread of ability levels, as well as the variety of musical backgrounds and interests.

While studies have documented the ubiquitous nature of church choirs as music-making activities in the community, there is a need for an investigation of how church choirs can serve as a model to understand more completely the gestalt concept of community music. …

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