European Music Council/International Music Council
Social Role of Choral Singing (El Impacto social del Canto Coral)
“Singing together increases the social capital of a culture by empowering human qualities such as self-esteem, respect for others, social solidarity, tolerance, empathy and loyalty – all qualities that are vital for the process of society-building.” (International Conference in Music and Education, Vilnius, Lithuania 2009).
As its starting point, this conclusion takes the workshop content referred to below. Human beings usually bond with those whose conditions and social characteristics are similar to their own; people with comparable educations, or basically a common reality. People tend to socialize with those whom they can identify with. A choir enables singers of diff erent cultural backgrounds to come together for a common activity, where what is important are the natural components needed for singing – talent, voice, pitch, memory and expressivity. These tools are excellent methods of integration. Choirs can be formed by professional musicians, amateur singers or both. There are choirs that comprise of children, women, men and senior citizens – anyone who wants to sing. “Adults who sing in choruses are remarkably good citizens. (Choral singers exhibit civic engagement). Children who sing in choruses are successful academically and have valuable life skills (self-confidence, self-discipline, more focus, more creativity). Chorus members appear to be better team players and members. Chorus members are more collaborative.” (Chorus America Research, 2008).
Every choir has the power to have an impact on society. Even a choir hat is small and not very well known outside its own community has an effect that goes beyond the rehearsal room. “Choral societies are an essential form of ‘social capital’” (Putnam, 1993). The idea of social capital dates back to the 19th century, and science has since developed a variety of definitions for it; many of which pertain to socio-economics. “The term describes a type of capital gain that is to be had from engaging in social activity by forming relationships and connections with other people in order to do things as teams or organisations that could not be achieved by an individual alone” (Everingham, 2001). In the same way, relationships are required in a singing group in order for the goals of that group to be reached. For example, singing a multi-part song which could not be achieved with just one person singing on their own. According to Edwards and Foley (1998), it is through the voluntary sector that individuals can form these types of relationships.
“Choral singing has no borders. Choral singing and its many values are universal: Choral singing facilitates social integration, tolerance, respect, cohesion and solidarity. Choral singing is a common language and therefore fights exclusion. It builds society and contributes to human development by building self-identity. It facilitates peace and inter-human dialogue by creating harmony and beauty.” (IFCM, 2009).
The social impact of choral singing is reflected in different areas: teaching cultural and social values, community integration, social rehabilitation, societal adaptation, social development, regional/country development.
Below are some Latin American examples of choral activities that have had a social impact:
Teaching Cultural and Social Values: School Choral Projects.
- Location: Central Region, Venezuela
- Participants: 200 singers per year + singers’ families (5 per singer)
- Description: The objective is to promote choral singing in schools and to stimulate citizenship values. Influencing the development of behaviors and attitudes like cooperations, solidarity, identity, social integration.
- Activities: Annual Event, private and public schools choirs. One common motive: Peace, Tolerance…
“Coral Manos Blancas”, FESNOJIV (The State Foundation for the National Systgem of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela”)
- Location: 11 states, Venezuela
- Participants: 500 000 children and youth people + singers’families (5 per singer)
- Description: Choral singing as an integration strategy and a tool of societal adaptation. Choir of girls, boys and young people with impaired hearing, impaired sight, intellectual difficulties and motor skill problems and other singers without disabilities
- Activities: Concerts, Music activities of FESNOJIV
Social Rehabilitation and Social Adaptation
“Coral del INOF”, Fundación Aequalis/Fesnojiv
Started by Fundación Aequalis. Today FESNOJIV (Penitentiary Choir and Orchestra)
- Location: Los Teques, Venezuela
- Participants: Women from INOF rehabilitation centre + singers’ families (5 per singer)
- Description: Choral singing as a societal rehabilitation strategy and as a tool of societal integration in a women’s prison choir
- Activities: Concerts, Activities of FESNOJIV.
Social Development and Social Integration:
“Construir Cantando”, FSCV (Fundación Schola Cantorum de Venezuela)
- Location: 7 states, Venezuela
- Participants: 600 children, 20 groups, + singers’ families (5 per singer)
- Description: Choral singing as an instrument of social inclusion and social development. Choir of children and youths who are especially vulnerable because of their ages and socioeconomic circunstances (marginalised areas)
- Activities: Concerts, national and international events of FSCC
Regional/County Development : “Coro Andino”
The Andean Development Corporation (CAF) Project; FSCV; FESNOJIV,
International Federation of Choral Music (IFCM)
- Location: Andean Countries
- Participants: 4 000 children, 7 countries + singers’ families (5 per singer)
- Description: Andean Youth Choral Project, a programme that facilitates human development, social action, and the integration of children and young people from poor backgrounds into society by using choral music. Develops values such as regional identity.
- Activities: National and regional concerts, Choral conductors and leader training.
These examples were attached to a document of recommendation for the Ministries of Education, Culture, Health and Social Affairs of Lithuania and for national and international music organizations (www.EuropaCantat.org).
(Enlace a base de datos Europa Cantat para ver la presentación completa en pdf)