Like You and Me: Choir Singing and Social-emotional Learning Potentials seen through the Eyes of the Singers and Professionals

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Evidence is emerging concerning the connections between music engagement and social-emotional competences such as emotion recognition, empathy, pro-social behavior, and self-esteem. However, more research is needed regarding the underlying impact mechanisms to merge and accumulate knowledge from areas such as music psychology, music education, philosophy, pedagogy, and mental health care.

This study was carried out to explore how the professionals experienced engaging in the choir A Song for the Mind to understand the potentials of choir singing related to social-emotional competence in a learning and mental health perspective.

Six women and two men were interviewed. The study involved open-ended interviews and applied Paul Ricoeur's phenomenological–hermeneutic theory of interpretation.

Two themes emerged – Like You and Me and My Buddy and Me. Singers and professionals shared common emotional settings with feelings of insecurity. This created a joint foundation where everyone was learning by doing. Seemingly, small everyday occurrences, ‘small things’ are found to constitute building blocks for feelings of sameness, creating grounds for identity constructive encounters. These dynamics are tacit yet potentiated by the choir leader ‘going beyond the professional role’ and being ‘just like you and me’. A ‘Buddy system’ supports ground for building agency promoting feelings of inclusiveness and belonging - providing access to intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions like emotional self-awareness, empathy, and social responsibility.

This study has documented social-emotional relevance from a learning and mental health perspective, and demonstrated a potential of choir singing to promote social-emotional competence. The choir activities constitute a platform for learning, directing the singers’ attention inwards and outwards, transcending and connecting individual emotions with social competences. It is relevant to consider a learning design, not just in terms of delivering a specific framework, but more generally in terms of the formation of identities.
TidsskriftNordic Journal of Arts, Culture and Health
StatusAfsendt - okt. 2022

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