Music Colloquium: Building confident choral communities

The speaker is Dr Michael Bonshor (University of Sheffield).

Abstract

This colloquium is based on Michael Bonshor’s data-driven, qualitative research project, which was designed to investigate the causes and effects of varying confidence levels in amateur choral singers. Michael’s main objective was to develop confidence-building strategies with practical applications in choral rehearsal and performance. The superordinate emergent themes include choral group dynamics, social cohesion, communication, and collaboration. The importance of communal learning in choirs was highlighted, and the conductor’s contribution to group processes was explored.

In this presentation, the impact of inter-singer verbal and non-verbal communication will be examined, with particular reference to the role of teamwork, the influence of unofficial choral ‘team leaders’, and the role of the conductor. During group singing activities, peer mentoring, role modelling, and reciprocal musical and moral support all have an effect upon choral learning, performance quality, and individual and collective confidence. An awareness of these factors can have a positive impact upon approaches to choir leadership and group facilitation. The research findings are presented in relation to relevant psychological, philosophical and pedagogical frameworks, which have practical implications in a wide range of educational and musical settings. Practical applications of these frameworks are suggested, and confidence-building strategies are recommended, based upon the presenter’s original research and long-standing experience as a practitioner.

The findings have been published, along with a set of practical team-building activities and confidence-building exercises, in Michael’s book The Confident Choir: A Handbook for Leaders of Group Singing.

About the speaker

Michael Bonshor is a Music Psychologist, specialising in musical wellbeing and positive psychology for performers. He has a background as a professional opera singer with international contracts, and is a long-established singing teacher, conductor and workshop leader. Michael has conducted a wide range of choirs, including choral societies, chamber choirs, open-access community choirs, musical theatre companies, male voice choirs, and women’s close harmony ensembles. His practical work focuses on encouraging inclusive participation and collaborative musical facilitation.

Michael’s book The Confident Choir: A Handbook for Leaders of Group Singing has been published by Roman & Littlefield. The book contains a range of psychological, philosophical and pedagogical approaches to confidence building for choir leaders and singers; transcribed conversations with singers about the positive and negative factors affecting their confidence; and practical activities and exercises for choral confidence building.

For more information about Michael’s professional work and research, contact him at pocketmaestro@hotmail.com or visit his blog: https://pocketmaestro.wordpress.com

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