Transcending the technical : an examination of spirituality in choral music making for selected public
The purpose of this phenomenology was to contribute to the examination of the role of spirituality in choral music making for public school choral conductors in the United States. Since the year 2000, the topic of spirituality has been a growing area of interest for researchers, particularly in the fields of nursing, social sciences, and education. To better understand the phenomenon of spirituality within music education, eight public high school choir conductors who were members of the American Choral Directors Association, had taught for at least five years, and had experienced spirituality in choral rehearsals or performances were interviewed face-to-face or via online video-conferencing software, using a self-developed interview guide with open ended questions. Participants included four males and four females from Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and Florida. The findings of this study supported previous literature on spirituality by contrasting spirituality from religion, and described spirituality as students engaging in musical experiences that transcended the fundamentals of music, involving the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Participants shared that a certain level of technicality must be achieved before a spiritual experience would occur, but a flawless performance was not required. The participants expressed the need for vulnerability and authenticity in the classroom modelled by the teacher, but the strongest theme throughout the data was the value placed on various connections. These teachers discussed connection to the music, particularly the text, connection between the teacher and the students, connection among the students themselves, connection to the divine, and connection to the audience. The teachers suggested those interested in engaging their students in spiritual experiences could cultivate these connections through large/small group discussion, studying the cultural and historical background of the music, use of metaphors and imagination, self-reflection, journaling, sharing personal stories, engaging in ice-breakers and team building activities, mindfulness exercises, in personal interactions, and through the use of inspirational quotes. When asked to define spirituality in the context of choral music, each participant admitted that it was difficult to define, but expressed it as something bigger than themselves, tied to a greater purpose, calling, and/or worldview, and often expressed hope that students would gain this greater perspective on life.