High School Students' Attitudes and Perceptions Regarding Movement in the Choral Rehearsal

October 13, 2010 / By: Kathryn E. Briggs

The problem of this study was to discover female high school students’ attitudes and perceptions regarding movement in the choral rehearsal.  The problem was based on the belief conductors who have an understanding of their singers’ perceptions of the use of movement will have useful information that may be applied to creating lessons and rehearsals using a movement-based pedagogy tailored to the students’ taste, providing musically productive and enjoyable rehearsal experiences.  The sub-problems of this thesis focused on students’ understanding of the musical objectives and purpose of movement exercises, students’ perceived improvement in their individual singing as a result of movement in rehearsal, students’ perceived improvement in the performance of the choir as a result of movement in rehearsal, students’ enjoyment and attitudes toward the use of movement in rehearsal, and whether variables such as grade, choral ensemble, previous choral singing experiences, rehearsal space, and rehearsal time affect students’ attitudes about and perceptions of the use of movement in the choral rehearsal.

The research took place at a private, Catholic, all-female college preparatory school in Portland, Oregon.  The subjects were female students in grades nine through twelve enrolled in either a non-auditioned, beginning-level, ninth through twelfth grade choir or an auditioned, advanced, tenth through twelfth grade choir.  Students in both choirs were invited to voluntarily participate in an anonymous written survey and one hundred thirty-nine surveys were completed.  Survey statements were developed based on the researcher’s personal observations of students during rehearsals, and through a review of related literature and research by Chagnon, Ehmann, McCoy, Wis, and Tkach-Hibbard about how movement is perceived by singers, as well as movement’s affect on student attitudes.  

The results of the survey revealed overwhelmingly positive responses to the use of movement in rehearsal, clearly demonstrating that female high school choral singers perceive movement as a worthwhile instructional tool that benefits individual singers as well as the choir.  The study illustrates high school students appreciate knowing the purpose and rationale for rehearsal activities, and when movement exercises are presented well, variables such as grade level and other choral experiences have very little to no affect on students’ attitudes and perceptions.  Surveyed students responded with positive attitudes toward movement activities because they perceive them to improve their choral skills as both individuals and as a choir, and therefore are willing participants in movement activities.