School of Music


Master of Arts in Music Education (MA)


Monica Taylor


Community Music, Health Promotion, Choral Ensembles, Social Engagement


Education | Music | Music Education


Making music in collaboration with others has impacted the strength, development, and connection amongst people throughout American history. Community music ensembles can strengthen social bonds and improve collaboration between citizens. Developing interest and skill in choral singing can provide an avenue for social connectedness in adulthood, as well as reduce stress throughout adolescence. This qualitative study focused on participants’ professed benefits from voluntary participation in a community chorus and the effect of rehearsal participation on perceived stress and/or energy level. The study was situated in a non-auditioned community choir in a densely populated metropolitan suburb in Northern Virginia. Data was gathered through an online survey, semi-structured interviews and participants’ journal responses. The findings reveal benefits and motivational factors for participation in an amateur music ensemble as a focused leisure activity. Reported benefits of participation include stress reduction, increased mental focus and energy, community connection, director’s focus on life-long learning, and personal skill development. The findings also revealed mixed responses to the impact of opportunity for socialization in rehearsal. This research identifies two impediments to participation in a community music ensemble: work or family responsibilities, and the negative influence of an audition process. These findings indicate that participation in adult community music ensembles is greatly influenced by earlier music ensemble experiences.