UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Tan, Linda Lek Hiok
Thesis (M.A.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Chia, Wei Khuan
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

The purpose of this study was to present a descriptive overview of the status of choral activities in Singapore secondary schools with regard to school, choir and choir director demographics, school choral activities, choral training and repertoire. Further, the possible relationships between several variables were investigated. The data were gathered through a questionnaire mailed to the choral directors of all secondary schools in Singapore. 134 schools out of 152 responded to the survey, yielding a return rate of 88.1 %. Descriptive statistics, cross-tabulations and Chi-square tests were used to analyze the data. Findings indicate that, on the average, about 5 % of the student population participated in school choirs and that the main choral activities in schools involved school-based and local performances, as well as local choral competitions. More than half of all schools participated in choral competitions. In the area of choral training, it was found that choral conductors generally emphasized the teaching of vocal skills but aspects such as the teaching of fundamental concepts in music, musical form and history received comparatively less attention. The development of music reading skills was given the least emphasis in the training of choirs. In terms of choral repertoire, secondary school choirs were found to learn and perform mainly Contemporary works, folk music and selections from musicals. The choirs sang predominantly in English. There is evidently a need for balance and diversity in the choral repertoire as more than half of the choirs sang works from two or less musical periods while more than a third sang works in two or less genres and languages in their repertoire for the entire year. The data reveal that less than one third of the conductors had obtained music qualifications at the degree or postgraduate level and less than half had received formal training in choral conducting. Analyses also indicate that conductors' music qualifications are significantly related to the choral repertoire chosen. As findings imply that choral directors generally lack music qualifications and choral conducting training, it is proposed that a systematic and comprehensive training programme specifically in choral conducting be considered for conductors.

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