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Listening to our singers - NZ choral research project

Listening to our singers - NZ choral research project


Kiwi choral conductor Kate Bell is undertaking a PhD choral research project and is looking for participants. Kate outlines the project below and you'll find information on how you can take part...

As the first stage of my PhD research, I’m asking people who sing (or used to sing) in community choirs to fill in a short online questionnaire about their experience.  I want to know what leads people to singing in choirs, what encourages them to stay singing and what barriers they face. And I’m also very interested to know how members of choirs perceive the balance between musical aspirations and social goals.

The questionnaire is short – about 10 minutes to complete – and doesn’t go into any depth.  This part of my work is just an initial, exploratory phase to give a sense of which issues matters to singers themselves, and to see if there’s anything worth investigating that we choir directors haven’t spotted.  In essence, I want to know what combination of factors brings people into choirs and keeps them there.  This initial survey will guide the next phase of more in-depth research.

Some choirs have already been approached individually, but I’d love to hear from any choir leadership or management if you’d like to involve your members. I’m also very happy to hear from any individual singers who would like to fill in the questionnaire.

The survey is entirely anonymous.  I won’t be able to identify or trace anybody’s reponses, and I won’t know which choir anyone is part of.  I will share the general themes from this phase and, later on, the overall project.  I hope that whatever I learn from this work will benefit all of us who try to provide rich singing experiences for our amateur singers, and for those singers themselves.

How to take part in the research 

Here is a link to the Participant Information Sheet for Choir Leaders and Management. Please read this if you’re interested in having your choir participate, and then download, sign, scan and email Kate this Consent Form. Feel free to get in touch with Kate if you have any questions about any of this - her contact details are in the information sheet. Kate will then send you an email which invites your members to participate, with an anonymous link to the survey. This same email will be sent to anyone who contacts Kate individually – note that she still won’t be able to link you to your answers once you click on the link.

Perceived conflict of interest
Kate wishes to point out that she runs the All Together Now group of community choirs, but she wants to include a range of approaches to this work, and regions other than those she is working in.  Her intention is to share the knowledge acquired through this work with her choral colleagues in Aotearoa New Zealand, to the benefit of all.

This research was approved by the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee on 27/02/2023 for three years. Reference Number UAHPEC24943. 

About Kate Bell

After a winding professional and musical path, which included raising three children, teaching high school music and drama, and a Suzuki-method piano studio, Kate returned to university in 2008. She graduated with an MMus in Composition in 2017 and now arranges most of the music for her choirs. During these years, Kate was fortunate to sing in the Auckland Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr Karen Grylls. Kate’s professional choral career began in 2013 when she and Steven Rapana founded Volcanic City Voices. This collaboration continues to the present day in All Together Now.

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