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Conductors' perspectives of Kansas prison choirs

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The purpose of this investigation was to gather and examine prison choir conductors' (N = 9) perspectives on six Kansas prison choir programs to document current practices, assemble information to help prison choir conductors, and compare data to theories of prison choir participation. According to conductors, when inmate singers first joined their choruses, they generally had limited vocal skills and short attention spans. Conductors remarked that through consistent attendance at rehearsals, inmates improved their focus, built trust among the group, learned to use their bodies more efficiently for singing, and experienced a sense of accomplishment. Data indicated that inmates have opportunities for transformational change through interacting with other singers and audience members, preparing for choral performances, and developing a sense of group responsibility. In particular, these opportunities included paying attention to details, learning physical skills in order to sing, and singing particular texts.

Keywords: adult; choirs; community; prison; social justice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Iowa.

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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