Where practice meets philosophy: feminist pedagogy in the women’s choral rehearsal

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nana Faith Wolfe (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Robert Wells

Abstract: This dissertation seeks to define feminist pedagogy, explore ways in which its values can be incorporated into women's choral rehearsal methodology, and illustrate its impact on female singers musically and personally. In order to provide a framework for feminist pedagogy, the review of literature includes an overview of current choral philosophies and pedagogies. By reviewing five choral methods textbooks commonly taught at higher education institutions, the values of current choral methodology are deduced and considered traditional. Literature about pedagogy for women's choirs and literature that expresses the need for the inclusion of feminine attributes in choral music and music education reveal that traditional methods do not meet the philosophies, needs and/or desires of some women singers and some women's choir conductors. A summary of the origins and values of feminist pedagogy, examples of its implementation in classroom settings, and its influence on the field of music give possible alternatives and/or supplementation to traditional choral pedagogy. Because feminist pedagogy has scarcely been researched in performance ensemble settings, this dissertation includes a qualitative research case study that explores the incorporation of two of the values of feminist pedagogy in the women's choral rehearsal--collaboration and the inclusion of affective learning (i.e., emotion). The fieldwork for the case study consists of rehearsal observations of a collegiate women's choir conductor who aligns herself with the values of feminist pedagogy; an interview with the conductor; and nine individual interviews with female singers ranging in age (undergraduate and graduate) and experience (non-music majors and music majors). Two of the observed methods that align with feminist pedagogy were analyzed--initiating discussion relating to interpretation and meaning of the music by inviting the thoughts and opinions of singers and asking thought-provoking questions to help students make musical decisions. Through these collaborative methods, students experience increased mental engagement; ownership with the music-making process; confidence in making musical decisions; feeling valued; confidence to be honest and speak up/out; and increased understanding of the music, of others, and of their role as a team player. Imagery, as well as collaborative approaches, encouraged an affective/emotional connection with the music. Through an affective/emotional connection with the music, singers experience ease in singing; increased expressivity; enhanced visual and visceral experiences during performance; heightened feelings of centeredness, wholeness and empowerment; opportunities for self-discovery, emotional release, and emotional escape; a stronger sense of purpose; expanded world-views; and increased sympathy for and understanding of others. The results of the case study reveal that methods incorporating the values of feminist pedagogy meet the philosophies, needs and/or desires of some female singers and some women's choir conductors. It is proposed that a combination of traditional methods and feminist pedagogy could be beneficial for female singers musically and personally.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Choral conducting, Choral singing, Instruction and study, Feminism and higher education, Feminist pedagogy, Women, Education, Women's choirs
Women's choirs
Women singers
Feminism and music
Singing $x Instruction and study

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