In Australia, the ageing population generate challenges, pressures and opportunities for both governmental and community organisations. Involvement in community choirs offers older people diverse benefits that increase with ongoing participation. The music directors/conductors (MD/C) of community choirs are pivotal in the success of ensembles. This paper forms part of our wider study into Well-being and ageing: community, diversity and the arts in Victoria, Australia and addresses the questions, how do music directors/conductors (MD/C) of community choirs understand working with older people? And, how do older choir members understand the role of their MD/C? We interviewed two MD/Cs and thematically analysed our data. We present our findings under two overarching themes that evolved from our data analysis: Understandings of working with older people in a choir and musical leadership in a community setting. We found that the MD/Cs are reflective practitioners who imbued their facilitation and conducting with enthusiasm, skill, knowledge and passion for musical engagement. Our research suggests that to ensure longevity of choirs and to recognise the contribution of MD/Cs, greater attention should be paid to the upskilling of future generations of MD/Cs.


Community Choirs, Music Director And Conductor, Older People, Teaching And Learning, Musical And Conducting Competency, Case Study, Semi-Structured Interviews

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Dawn Joseph is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. She teaches in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Dawn researches, publishes and reviews in national and international journals in music education, teacher education, African music, cultural diversity and multiculturalism, community music, and ageing and well-being. She is past Chair of the Australian Society for Music Education (Victorian Chapter) and was member of the National Committee of this association. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: djoseph@deakin.edu.au.

Dr. Jane Southcott is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. Her phenomenological research explores music education, cultural identity and community music. She teaches in postgraduate and pre-service programs and supervises many postgraduate research students. Jane is Immediate Past National President of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education and a member of the editorial boards of international and national refereed journals. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: jane.southcott@monash.edu.

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