Communication for Conductors: insights from qualitative research

Michael Bonshor, Department of Music, University of Sheffield

Issue One | Page 103 | May 2020


This article presents the findings of a qualitative study focusing on the factors affecting choral singers' confidence levels in rehearsal and performance. A series of individual interviews and focus groups provided over 40 hours of verbal data. The principal themes include the impact of verbal and non-verbal communication upon choral competence and confidence. The effects of verbal feedback are influenced by the amount, frequency, content, style and source of the feedback. The authority invested in the conductor's perceived role as a musical expert adds particular weight to their criticism and praise. Similarly, non-verbal communication from conductors has a strong influence on performance quality and confidence amongst singers. These findings suggest several confidence-building approaches to providing verbal and non-verbal feedback, which will be particularly relevant to conductors working with amateur choral ensembles.

Keywords Confidence, choral singers, conducting, verbal feedback, non-verbal communication

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