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Title: Delightful to nature : a mixed methods exploration of adolescent singing participation in the United Kingdom
Author: Legg, Robert John
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 2355
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2012
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Within the world of music education, adolescent singing participation is fiercely debated and widely acknowledged as a problematic area. Writers have shown considerable interest in exploring this field, but much of the resulting scholarly activity has been narrow in its scope or has resulted in unclear findings. Despite the lack of unambiguous information about adolescents' engagement in singing activities, both at and beyond school, the last decade has seen a significant increase in the publication of government initiatives and policies aimed at effecting change in this very area. This tendency was evident throughout the New Labour administration and has continued under the current Tory-Liberal alliance. This research contributes to the existing literature using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The first part uses a large-scale social survey to establish a reliable evidence base for the rates of participation in singing activities amongst a sample of male and female adolescents (n = 1,770). In the second part, qualitative group interviews with a much smaller sample (n = 50) are employed to interrogate the factors underlying the patterns of participation that emerge from the results of the social survey. I conclude that, across a range of contexts, overall rates of participation in singing activities are low, thus confirming the anecdotal suspicions of many practitioners and writers but challenging the predominant discourse amongst both policy makers and the media, which has implied far greater rates of participation than I was able to observe. These low levels of engagement lead me to the conclusion that pupils are being unfairly denied access to the singing activities that are mandated in the current National Curriculum document. Statistically significant differences between boys' and girls' experiences of singing are found at every stage of the quantitative analysis, and gendered discourses are highly prevalent amongst the themes coming forward from the qualitative group interviews. I suggest that music educators are insufficiently mindful of the need to present equal opportunities where singing is concerned, and that, at present, they inadequately challenge beliefs and practices which emphasise the 'femaleness' of singing, to the detriment of boys' involvement. I recommend a number of ways in which practice could be changed in order to facilitate greater involvement in singing amongst both boys and girls. Foremost amongst these is the need to address adolescents' feeling that they are inadequately prepared - technically and socially - for singing. I also suggest that music educators should be more active in addressing unhelpful myths around singing participation such as those concerning the different abilities of girls and boys.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available