Choral Repertoires in Kentucky Pubic Schools: The Effect of Cultural Bias in Their Selection


Edwin Carl Pavy, Jr.
Research Paper for Music in World Cultures Course
Campbellsville University
November 2014


Abstract

This paper will explore the selection bias for choral repertoire across primary, intermediate and secondary school grade levels in central Kentucky, in an effort to find any correlation between the cultural or racial composition of the choral ensembles and the repertoire selected for that group to learn and perform. This paper also seeks to explore the connection of repertoire selection and the establishment of an individual’s or group’s music-culture or musical identity. For the purposes of this research, the region of central Kentucky will include the following counties:  Adair, Barren, Boyle, Casey, Green, Hardin, Hart, LaRue, Lincoln, Marion, Metcalfe, Nelson, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor, and Washington. A survey was sent to 100 music teachers in these counties to inquire about the repertoire selection process in their choral music programs. In schools where music teachers are present but no choral ensemble exists, educators were asked a series of questions regarding the implementation of culturally diverse music.


Introduction

As a choral educator in a public school setting, the need to be “highly effective” is always at the forefront. So, what are the habits of a highly effective choral educator? There are a vast number of traits of highly effective teachers, but one that has to be the basis for any choral educator must be to always be thinking of and implementing ways to enhance the musical development of the students. In an effort to merge my love of choral teaching with the mindset of creating an accurate worldview of music, I began thinking about the connection I could make between ethnomusicology and choral music education, and wondered if choral directors showed any bias in selecting repertoire for their choirs on the grounds of racial or cultural composition of the ensemble. This study does not delve into the role the director’s personal bias or preferences plays in repertoire selection, only the correlation between the demographics of the choral ensemble and the cultural diversity represented by the repertoire.

This also caused me to reflect on my own experiences in selecting repertoire. I noticed that at times I had shown some sort of bias in selecting at least one piece of music due to its cultural likeness to that of participants in the choral ensemble. For example, I had a new student from Japan join my middle school choir. I had spoken with school officials who informed me that she was very musically gifted, but very timid. In an effort to help assimilate her into the group and also bring some level of comfort, I selected a very gentle Japanese folk tune for the choir to perform. During rehearsals I noticed that when we got to that piece, she seemed more at ease and her willingness and ability to contribute to the ensemble were much greater. As a result, not only did this allow her to more easily connect with the ensemble through the music and because of the music, but it also exposed her fellow choristers to a new style of music with which they had previously been unfamiliar.

This research relied on the receipt of information from choral directors in both public and private schools. While 100 teachers were given the survey, only fifteen participated. Of the fifteen, however, there were eleven different counties represented. While the overall participation rate was low, the scope is fairly diverse with responses coming from a fifty-mile radius of Campbellsville, the central location within the central Kentucky region.


The Choral Music Experience

Choral music provides for students what instrumental music cannot: a connection between music and culture through language. Text or language is the greatest expressional tool in the choral musician’s belt. It is also worth noting that a vast majority of native, indigenous, and folk music in cultures throughout the world and from the dawn of civilization have been vocal music. They also rely on the vocal instrument for the transmission of their musical heritage from generation to generation. Perhaps it is because access to the voice and language is innate to every human being. The vocal instrument lies within the very body of the performer!

It is no wonder that singing within a choral ensemble yields such a strong connection to peers, but also to music and to culture. Vocal music is at the heart of everyone’s ancestral heritage. While those singing together in an ensemble are in close proximity, their heritages may be spread throughout the world, originating from some of the most remote regions on earth!   Now, one must look at what is being done to help connect students with ethnically diverse music through the school choral program. Are the students being given sets of repertoire that continually represent diverse cultural styles? What connections can students make from the music to their own ancestral identities? How can they gain a broader worldview by learning about different cultures through music? While these questions will not be answered in a definitive manner, the research will provide insight into what is currently being done, or not done, and explore cultural and racial diversity through repertoire selection in central Kentucky.


Research Results

Choral music teachers were asked to answer a series of questions regarding different elements of their choral music program. If surveyed educators responded that no choral ensembles exist, they were given a brief set of scenarios that posed questions regarding repertoire selection and culturally diverse music should they be asked to start a choral ensemble.  If surveyed educators responded that choral ensembles are active at their school, they answered questions regarding the number of ensembles, styles of ensembles, demographics of their choristers, vocal styles or techniques used in the ensembles, specific repertoire and cultural identity, accessibility to culturally diverse choral music, and finally their level of comfort in teaching culturally diverse pieces. By gaining an understanding of the styles of music being taught as well as the vocal techniques used to perform them, we can begin to establish an idea of how diverse the repertoire is, and if it reflects (knowingly or not) the cultural or racial demographic of the individual ensemble. For the sake of anonymity school names have been substituted for generic designations, however their locations are still included. For schools where choral music programs exist the first letter identifies the school level (E=elementary, M=middle school, H=high school). In the schools where no choral music program exists, their designation will be an “N”.


Choral Music in the Elementary School

Of the fifteen responses from music educators, ten of them (or 67%) were from teachers in elementary schools. Furthermore, only four of the ten (or 40%) who responded confirmed an active choral music program at the school. The remaining six teachers were then given the scenarios to answer. (See Table 1)

Table 1 – Responses from Elementary Schools in Central

Elementary Schools in Central Kentucky
Schools With an Active Choral Music Program Schools with NO Choral

Music Program

School EA – Hodgenville, Ky. School EE – Columbia, Ky.
School EB – Bardstown, Ky. School EF – Boston, Ky.
School EC – Glasgow, Ky. School EG – Cecilia, Ky.
School ED – Glasgow, Ky. School EH – Elizabethtown, Ky.
School EI – Somerset, Ky.
School EJ – Springfield, Ky.


Kentucky

 All the elementary schools above were found to have some type of music program, thus the invitation to participate in the survey. However, many schools, like the ones listed above, may only have a general music class and not a separate performance-based ensemble. Though there are only four schools with recognized choral music programs, there are a total of six choral music ensembles between the four schools. Two of the schools sponsor two choral ensembles while the other two sponsor one.

The demographic breakdown of the elementary schools with choral programs was found to be predominantly Caucasian in race and female in gender, though the participation of males in the music program is very good, accounting for almost 1/3 of the total participants. Table 1.1 summarizes the racial/ethnic and age demographic for the reported elementary schools in central Kentucky with active choral ensembles.

 Table 1.1Demographics of the Elementary School Choral Ensembles

Elementary Schools in Central Kentucky
School Name Total Singers Male Female Black White Hispanic Asian Other Age
School EA 21 3 18 0 19 2 0 0 9-11
School EB 24 10 14 0 21 3 0 0 9-11
School EC 32 10 22 4 27 1 0 0 6-10
School ED 15 6 9 1 13 1 0 0 6-12
TOTAL 92 29 63 5 80 7 0 0  
32% 68% 5% 87% 8% 0% 0%

Further information regarding the more specific details of the ensembles at each elementary school will follow in a later section.


Choral Music in the Middle School

Of the fifteen responses from music educators, two of them (or 13%) were from teachers in middle schools. Furthermore, both of the teachers who responded confirmed an active choral music program at the school. There was an entry from a teacher at School MA who also serves in an itinerate position as the director for the high school choir. The numbers were not delineated by the distinction in high school or middle school, and so have been included in the middle school section because of the teacher’s primary association with the middle school. However, the understanding is that there is an active choral music program at the high school level, but its participants will be reflected in the numbers shown for School MA below, noting the  age column in Table 2.1.

 Table 2 – Responses from Middle Schools in Central Kentucky

Middle Schools in Central Kentucky
Schools With an Active Choral Music Program Schools with NO Choral Music Program
School MA – Greensburg, Ky. None Reported
School MB – Lebanon, Ky.

Several middle schools in central Kentucky were found to have some type of music program, thus the invitation to participate in the survey. However, many schools may have opted out of the survey because they only have a general music class and not a separate performance-based ensemble. Though there are only two middle schools with recognized choral music programs, there are a total of four choral music ensembles between the two schools.

The demographic breakdown of middle schools with choral programs was found to be overwhelmingly Caucasian in race and female in gender, with the participation of males in the music program very low, accounting for less than ten percent of the total participants. There is an interesting correlation for School MB between the number of male and black participants as well as the female and white participants. Again, note the age range for School MA as being between twelve and eighteen years of age due the director’s itinerate position at the high school. Table 2.1 summarizes the racial/ethnic and age demographic for the reported middle schools in central Kentucky with active choral ensembles.

 Table 2.1Demographics of the Middle School Choral Ensembles

Middle Schools in Central Kentucky
School Name Total Singers Male Female Black White Hispanic Asian Other Age
School MA 65 5 60 1 59 2 0 3 12-18
School MB 19 2 17 2 17 0 0 0 12-14
TOTAL 84 7 77 3 76 2 0 3  
8% 92% 4% 90% 2% 0% 4%

Further information regarding the more specific details of the ensembles at each middle school will follow in a later section.


Choral Music in the High School

Of the fifteen responses from music educators, three of them (or 20%) were from teachers in high schools. Furthermore, all three of the teachers who responded confirmed an active choral music program at the school. Beyond that, all three report robust participation in the school choral music program. An average of 11.2% of the total student population between these three schools participates in the choral ensembles.

Table 3 – Responses from High Schools in Central Kentucky

High Schools in Central Kentucky
Schools With an Active Choral Music Program Schools with NO Choral Music Program
School HA – Springfield, Ky. None Reported
School HB – Elizabethtown, Ky.
School HC – Campbellsville, Ky.

Several high schools in central Kentucky were found to have some type of music program, thus the invitation to participate in the survey. However, many schools may have opted out of the survey because they only have a general music class and not a separate performance-based ensemble. Though there are only three schools with recognized choral music programs, there are a total of ten choral music programs between the three schools. Two of the schools sponsor four ensembles and one school sponsors two ensembles.

The demographic breakdown of the high schools with choral programs was found to be predominantly Caucasian in race and female in gender, although the participation of males in the music program is substantial, accounting for almost a quarter of the total participants. Another interesting trend that can be seen from an overview of all three school levels is the steady majority of female singers in the choral ensemble throughout their academic timetable and the drastic change in male participation in middle school, which then climbs again in high school. Table 3.1 summarizes the racial/ethnic and age demographic for the reported high schools in central Kentucky with active choral ensembles.

Table 3.1Demographics of the High School Choral Ensembles 

High Schools in Central Kentucky
School Name Total Singers Male Female Black White Hispanic Asian Other Age
School HA 140 35 105 3 136 1 0 0 14-18
School HB 152 32 120 75 54 10 8 5 14-18
School HC 85 19 66 2 81 0 0 2 14-18
TOTAL 377 86 291 80 271 11 8 7  
23% 77% 21% 72% 3% 2% 2%

Further information regarding the more specific details of the ensembles at each high school will follow in a later section.


Schools without a Choral Music Program

Schools which reported no active choral music program were still polled. However, the survey posed hypothetical scenarios which inquired about the role cultural diversity might play, should the educator be asked to start a choral program. An interesting return from the survey was that all of the educators who answered there is no active choral program came from elementary level teachers. All educators who responded from the middle and high school levels confirmed an active choral music program. Perhaps this is no more than an interesting correlation, or perhaps it is evidence that musical fluency could be falling behind due to lack of implementation in the elementary schools.

Teachers at the elementary schools where no choral program exists answered a series of four questions. These educators may be general music teachers, arts and humanities teachers, or general related arts teachers who may or may not have specialized backgrounds in music, and more specifically vocal/choral music. Their answers to the scenarios can be found in Tables 4-4.3.

Table 4 – Confidence Level

Q: On a scale from 1-5, with 1 being “very insecure” and 5 being “very confident”, how confident would you feel introducing choral music representing diverse cultures?
School Name Response
School NA 2
School NB 4
School NC 4
School ND 2
School NE 3
School NF 5

The question in Table 4 was asked in order to find if this personal comfort might be a contributing factor in whether or not an educator would teach culturally diverse music. Half of the educators gave answers of less than desirable confidence in introducing diverse music. The answers given in the following tables will also help to shed light on why teachers rated their confidence in Table 4 the way they did. The answers reported below are verbatim quotations from the responses given in the survey.

 Table 4.1 – Apprehension

Q: What would your greatest apprehension be about introducing choral music from another culture?
School Name Response
School NA “It would not be the other culture that would worry me. I do not sing well. It would be my lack thereof musical talent.”
School NB “Pronunciation of other languages.”
School NC “Teaching the pieces incorrectly (wrong cultural context, etc.).”
School ND “Understanding the culture.”
School NE “Lack of time.”
School NF “Sometimes when introducing any music, the teacher has to ‘sell’ it. Some culturally diverse music may not be as easily received depending on what it is, so it is important to introduce it carefully with positive input so the students ‘buy’ it too.”

These colleagues bring up some very good concerns about introducing culturally diverse music. In some cases their apprehensions reflect their level of confidence in introducing such music. For example, the teacher from School NA, who gave their official title as “Art and Music Teacher”, acknowledges substantial musical deficiencies. This helps to explain why they were on the lower end of the confidence spectrum.  However, some of those who reported strong confidence in introducing culturally diverse music also, somewhat paradoxically, noted substantial apprehensions in introducing this music. For example, the teacher at School NC who rated himself/herself a confidence level of four, which would indicate a level of “confident”, said they would worry about not being able to teach a culturally diverse piece of music correctly. For others, concerns of the culture’s acceptance by the students or having enough time to teach effectively about music from another culture were the primary apprehensions as opposed to a lack of knowledge in regard to the subject matter.

The next question asks teachers to decide how important it is to teach culturally diverse music. A seemingly simple question, I was surprised to discover lower levels of importance than I anticipated. Again, these answers are being given from the point of view that these educators were asked to start a choral program. Table 4.2 shows responses for this question.

Table 4.2 – Importance of Culturally Diverse Music

Q: On a scale from 1-5, with 1 being “not important” and 5 being “very important”, how important would it be to select culturally diverse music?
School Name Response
School NA 4
School NB 4
School NC 5
School ND 2
School NE 3
School NF 5

The responses in Table 4.2 are very telling. I was anticipating, despite any lack of confidence in teaching culturally diverse music, that these teachers would agree that the inclusion of diverse music is an important part of their instruction and to the development of their students. Two schools reported opinions of indifference and less importance in teaching culturally diverse music. Here, there might be the first evidence of personal bias effecting one’s instruction. The teacher at School ND, in the previous responses, has acknowledged little confidence in introducing culturally diverse music, citing a lack of understanding of cultures as an apprehension, and now has placed little importance on teaching culturally diverse music. Though this is a hypothetical scenario, there are real concerns about the effect personal bias may be having on subject matter taught. Is the teacher, regardless of the grade level or subject, teaching what will benefit the student even if it means they are out of their comfort zone? The evidence above suggests that this may not always be the case. Furthermore, it suggests that an educator may opt out of teaching a subject with which they are not as familiar, even though it is required by state education standards to do so. This paper’s intent is not in assessing the effectiveness of teachers, but this is definitely not a best practice. In fact, it is a type of injustice to students. The implication of this type of teaching inhibits and restricts the global awareness of students. How will this affect the development of their individual personal music culture or musical identity? Not favorably.

The teacher at School NA, while admitting musical deficiencies, still acknowledges the importance of selecting culturally diverse music. This teacher also provides a response in the following table (Table 4.3), which demonstrates an awareness of highly effective teaching practices and collaboration with other teachers and departments. The answers reported below are verbatim quotations from the responses given in the survey.

Table 4.3 – Most Beneficial Musical Culture to Study (continued on next page)

Q: Which music culture would students benefit from the most, through performing?
School Name Response
School NA “I would look at which cultures are studied in their Social Studies content and select one of them.”
School NB “Music from various African cultures have a lot of value for music education especially in performing complex rhythms.”
School NC “Well, Native American, West African, and Appalachian music are all part of the core content, but I feel like it is important to be exposed to a variety of cultures, so I would probably select as many different cultures as I could.”
School ND                              “Not sure.”
School NE “It depends partly on what’s related to their curriculum.”
School NF “I like to teach music from all over the world to elementary students. I think they benefit from all. They love African American spirituals, music from Asia, Australia, South America (Brazil), the Caribbean, Middle East and Europe. Elementary students are ‘sponges’ and love to learn about songs, languages and dances from places all around the world. If you need for me to pick one, I would probably say that African or African American music would be their favorite. The rhythms, drums, and the emotion that African music involves really appeals to the students.”

As mentioned above, the teacher from School NA has identified an important aspect of highly effective instruction. Though he/she may have musical deficiencies, they can be proactive and begin the process of introducing culturally diverse music by helping students identify with a culture based on which culture they had been exposed to in their Social Studies class. The teacher from School NE also alludes to this practice. While the Kentucky education standards expressly identify specific cultures to cover within instructional units, the cross-curricular approach will definitely help students connect with the material on intellectual and creative levels. This could alleviate the concern voiced by the teacher from School NF when introducing music from another culture. The culture most specifically identified by teachers in this question was that of music from African origin or descent.


Schools with a Choral Music Program

Elementary, middle and high schools with active choral music programs answered specific demographic questions about their ensembles in regard to age, race, and gender, as shown previously. Teachers in these schools also answered questions regarding their current repertoire, types of established choirs, vocal techniques taught, and questions similar and in some cases exactly like those of the teachers with no active choral ensemble. However, there is the understanding that from teachers with active choral programs, the answers are not hypothetical or “what-if” scenarios. Rather, they are based on actual practices and real observations as choral directors.


Individual Elementary School Diversity Profiles

School EA

With twenty-one total participants over two ensembles, School EA sponsors a traditional two-part choir and an annual musical production. Only two racial ethnicities are represented within the ensembles, nineteen White (90%) and two Hispanic (10%).  The teacher at School EA reports that the cultural diversity of the ensembles has no effect on their selection of repertoire for the choral ensembles. The choirs sing in Western Classical Choral, Caribbean/Reggae, Musical Theater, A Cappella, and American Folk styles.

The current repertoire of the ensembles represents all of these diverse styles, with a slight preference for the American Folk style. Thus, a correlation can be made between the dominance of the Caucasian race of the ensemble participants and the prominence of the American Folk style.

School EB

With twenty-four total participants in one ensemble, School EB sponsors a two-part treble chorus which sings in a variety of styles. Only two racial ethnicities are represented within the ensemble, twenty-one White (87.5%) and three Hispanic (12.5%). The teacher at School EB reports that the cultural diversity of the ensemble highly effects the selection of repertoire for their choral ensemble. The choir sings in Western Classical Choral, Caribbean/Reggae, Latin American, Pop, Rock-n-Roll, Call and Response, and Musical Theater styles. They also utilize various singing techniques including vocables, improvisation, chanting, and sound imitation.

The current repertoire of the ensemble represents a diverse collection of styles, with equal distribution among different cultures. There is an equal prominence of music of African descent and European descent. Though there is no definitive correlation between this and the ethnic makeup of the ensemble, this does represent two of the more prominent races in the region of central Kentucky, White and Black.

School EC

With thirty-two total participants in two ensembles, School EC sponsors a two-part choir and an advanced choir. Three racial ethnicities are represented within the ensembles, twenty-seven White (84%), four Black (13%), and one Hispanic (3%). The teacher at School EC reports that the cultural diversity of the ensembles does have an impact on the selection of repertoire for the two ensembles. The choirs sing in Western Classical Choral, Latin American, Gospel, Musical Theater, A Cappella, Call and Response, and West African styles.

The current repertoire does demonstrate mild diversity, but only within the scope of music of European descent. There can be found a correlation between the cultural diversity of the repertoire (European) selected and the dominance of the Caucasian race of the ensemble.

School ED

With fifteen total participants in a single choral ensemble, School ED sponsors a two-part treble chorus. Three racial ethnicities are represented, even within the small number of participants in the ensemble, thirteen White (86%), one black (7%), and one Hispanic (7%). The teacher at School ED reports that cultural diversity of the ensemble has little effect on the selection of repertoire for the ensemble. The choir sings in Western Classical Choral, Musical Theater and Appalachian Folk styles, utilizing singing techniques including vocables.

The current repertoire represents only music of European descent, which is an accurate reflection of the styles and techniques reported. There can be found a correlation between the limited diversity of the Euro-descendent repertoire and the majority Caucasian race of the ensemble participants.


Individual Middle School Diversity Profiles

School MA

With sixty-five total participants in three ensembles, School MA sponsors a seventh-grade choir, eighth-grade choir, and high school choir. The director’s itinerate position at the high school, as explained previously, is the reason for the inclusion of the high school choir’s statistics within the middle school section. There are multiple racial ethnicities represented within the ensembles, fifty-nine White (91%), one Black (2%), two Hispanic (3%), and three of other racial ethnicities (4%). The teacher at School MA reports that the cultural diversity of the ensembles may at times effect the selection of repertoire for the ensembles, but not often or regularly. The choirs sing in Hip-Hop/R&B, Pop, Musical Theater, Jazz, and Call and Response styles, with compositional techniques such as polyphonic melodies.

The current repertoire represents music of European and African descent; an accurate reflection of the styles listed above. However, two-thirds of the repertoire represents European descent. Therefore, a correlation can be found between the selection of the current repertoire and the racial majority (Caucasian) of the ensemble participants.

School MB

With nineteen total participants in a single ensemble, School MB sponsors a combined seventh-grade and eighth-grade chorus. Only two racial ethnicities are represented within the ensemble, seventeen White (89%) and two Black (11%). The teacher at School MB reports that the cultural diversity of the ensemble has little impact on the selection of repertoire for the choir. The choir sings in Gospel, Pop, A Cappella, African, and Folk styles, with compositional techniques such as polyphonic melodies.

The current repertoire represents a diversity of musical styles with the largest series of pieces being African-American Gospel style. While this prominence does not match the racial majority of the ensemble, the repertoire as a whole only represents European and African descendent styles of music. This, however, does represent the only two racial ethnicities in the choral ensemble.


Individual High School Diversity Profiles

School HA

With 140 total participants in two ensembles, School HA sponsors a beginning/intermediate level choir and an honors choir for advanced voices. Three racial ethnicities are represented within the two ensembles, 136 White (97%), three Black (2%), and one Hispanic (1%). The teacher at School HA reports that the cultural diversity of the ensembles has a moderate effect on the selection of repertoire. The choirs sing in Western Classical Choral, Pop, Musical Theater, and A Cappella styles.

The current repertoire cannot be evaluated because the director declined to include a list of specific titles or even cultural identities of the given pieces. Information on the choral program at School HA is limited to demographics and basic information.

School HB

With 152 total participants in four ensembles, School HB sponsors an SATB mixed chorus, SSA beginning chorus, SSA advanced chorus, and TTB[1] men’s chorus. School HB has the largest and most culturally diverse ensemble participation of any school surveyed. They are also the only school who participated which has a racial majority of a race other than Caucasian. Several racial ethnicities are represented in the choral music program, seventy-five Black (49%), fifty-four White (36%), ten Hispanic (7%), eight Asian (5%), and five of other racial ethnicities (3%). The teacher at School HB reports that the cultural diversity of the ensembles has a moderate effect on the selection of repertoire for the four ensembles. The choirs sing in Gospel, Hip-Hop/R&B, Pop, Rock-n-Roll, Musical Theater, Jazz, A Cappella, and Call and Response styles, utilizing singing techniques such as vocables, shouting and chanting.

The current repertoire represents only music of African descent, including traditional African folk and African-American Gospel. The racial majority of the ensemble participants are Black. Therefore, a very important correlation can be made between the repertoire and demographics of the ensemble. This is the only time within this research where a school has had a racial majority of Black students, and where the repertoire has so lopsidedly been of African descent.

School HC

With eighty-five total participants in four ensembles, School HC sponsors a women’s chorus, mixed chorus, chamber ensemble, and show choir. At least three racial ethnicities are represented within the ensembles, eighty-one White (95%), two Black (2.5%), and two of other racial ethnicities (2.5%). The teacher at School HC reports that the cultural diversity of the ensembles has little impact on the selection of repertoire. The choirs sing in Latin American, Gospel, Pop, Musical Theater, Jazz, and A Cappella styles, and also in Hebrew and French languages.

The current repertoire reflects an almost equal representation of culturally diverse music with African, Middle Eastern, and European roots. This is perhaps the most evenly balanced selection of repertoire of any of the programs listed at any grade level. While no correlation can be made between dominant styles or music cultures and ethnicities within the ensembles, it should be pointed out that this level of diversity would encourage a broad worldview and enhance a student’s musical identity and play a major role in the development of their individual music culture.


Conclusion

Despite the self-assessments of the teachers who participated in this survey about whether they take the racial demographics of their ensembles into consideration when selecting repertoire, the information they supplied suggests very strongly that the cultural diversity of their ensembles does affect their selection of repertoire. Of the nine schools profiled above, one must be disqualified due to a lack of information. Of the eight remaining schools six (75%) were found to have a strong correlation between the cultural identity of their current repertoire and the races/ethnicities represented in their ensembles (either as a whole or based on majority). Only two (25%) schools of the eight were found to have little or no correlation between repertoire and racial makeup of the ensembles.

What is surprising is the gap between many of the directors’ imagined self-awareness and actual bias of the role the races in their ensembles contributes to their selection of repertoire. The racial demographic could be affecting the director’s repertoire selection subconsciously, as this survey might suggest. What affect will this have on the student? Does it make a difference if the director knowingly or coincidentally selects repertoire that is a musical representation of the racial demographic of his/her ensemble? In short, the answer is both yes and no. If the director selects repertoire that only represents European and African styles or styles descended from these cultures, students will have a narrow exposure to world music cultures. But, if the director selects a continually changing repertoire as the demographic of the ensemble changes, for instance, a Japanese folk melody because there are now Japanese students in the ensemble, the worldview through music for the students in that ensemble widens.

A recommendation to those choral directors who participated in this survey, or others like these who may find themselves with a very particular selection bias for repertoire due to racial demographics of their choir, is to sing and teach repertoire from a music culture which has no racial or ethnic representation in their ensemble. Selection bias will not always harm the development of an individual’s musical identity. However, a pattern of bias for a culturally narrow scope of repertoire always will. The answer is the delicate and complex balance of a choral conductor to be critically and accurately self-assessing of repertoire selection habits and intentionality of introducing new, culturally diverse music to an ensemble.


Bibliography

Books

Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Hylton, John B. Comprehensive Choral Music Education. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Englewood Cliffs, 1995.

Brinson, Barbara A. Choral Music Methods and Materials: Developing Successful Choral Programs (Grades 5 to 12). New York: Schirmer Books, 1996.

Journals

Gratto, Sharon Davis. “Ethnic & Multicultural Perspectives: Selected Choral Music: Resources to Inform World Music Study and Performance.” The Choral Journal, (2011): 59, [JSTOR Journals, EBSCOhost (accessed September 25, 2014)]

Kushner, Roland J. “Scale, Scope, and Structure in the Community Chorus Industry.” Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society 41, no. 1 (January 2011): 38. [MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 25, 2014)]

Internet

“Kentucky Core Academic Standards.” Arts and Humanities – Curriculum Documents. Accessed September 25, 2014. http://education.ky.gov/curriculum/docs/Documents/KCAS%20-%20June%202013.pdf

“Questions of Ethnomusicology.” Index of Music Courses. Accessed September 25, 2014. http://www.colorado.edu/music/courses/emus2772/Questionsofethnomusicology.html

Gratto, Sharon Davis. “Repertoire Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives R&S Standards.” Ethnics and Multicultural Perspectives R&S Standards. Accessed September 25, 2014. http://acda.org/page.asp?page=ethnicchoirstandards

[1] SATB means Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Base; SSA means Soprano (high voice), Soprano (low voice); TTB means Tenor (high voice), Tenor (low voice), Base/Baritone.

Edwin Carl Pavy, Jr. resident hall director, Campbellsville University, Campbellsville, Kentucky. He recently received his Masters of Music in Conducting.

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