Nave Choir Research Collaboration - Chester Cathedral

Nave Choir Research Collaboration

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On of the volunteers from the Nave Choir, Ken, has just completed his MA in Vocal Pedagogy. Read below to hear all about this journey and his involvement in the Nave Choir.

I am delighted to share some exciting news from the Chester Cathedral Nave Choir community. After three years of research, I have successfully completed my MA in Vocal Pedagogy at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. This journey culminated in a field study conducted with our very own Nave Choir, aiming to explore the impact of specific rehearsal techniques on singers’ motivation.

The foundation of my study was built on extensive research into Motivation Theory, identifying 11 key categories influencing singers' motivation: Choir Goals, Singer Goals, Repertoire, Singer Self-Perception, Flow, Intrinsic Motivation, Technical Complexity, Time Pressure, Opportunities to Perform, Elitism, and Musical Experience. My objective was to test how implementing techniques related to these categories could enhance the motivational levels of our choir members during rehearsals.

From September to December, the Nave Choir participated in this study, with some of our dedicated Lay Clerks serving as a control group. Both groups completed a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study to measure any changes in their motivation. Additionally, I interviewed our esteemed Cathedral Organists—Philip Rushforth, Alex Lanigan-Palotai, and Dan Mathieson—as well as Howard Kane, the conductor of a local Choral Society, to gain insights into how they address these motivational categories within their own practices.

I am pleased to report that the study showed a significant increase in the singers’ self-assessed motivation. This positive outcome reflects the effectiveness of the applied techniques and the Cathedral Music Department’s existing commitment to fostering a motivating environment. Notably, the initial motivation scores were already impressively high, underscoring the department’s dedication to the choir’s well-being and growth.

Special thanks are due to several key individuals who made this study possible. First and foremost, I extend my deepest gratitude to Alex Lanigan-Palotai, our Sub-Organist, for his unwavering support and willingness to integrate the techniques into his rehearsals with the Nave Choir. Alex’s openness and collaboration were instrumental in the success of this project. Thanks are also due to Canon Rosie Woodall, our Canon for Worship and Spirituality, Vice Dean, and Canon Librarian, for giving permission to go ahead and her invaluable support.

A heartfelt thank you to Philip Rushforth, our Organist and Master of the Choristers, for his enthusiastic participation and for sharing his extensive knowledge and experience. Philip’s dedication to the choir’s development has always been evident, and his contributions to this study were immensely valuable.

I particularly wish to express my gratitude to all the members of the Nave Choir and the Lay Clerks for their participation, patience, and openness throughout the study. Your feedback and engagement were crucial to the success of this research, and I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.

This study’s findings have not only validated the applied techniques but have also highlighted the exceptional motivational environment fostered by our Cathedral Music Department. Moving forward, I am excited to continue implementing these strategies to further enhance the choir’s experience and performance.

Thank you once again to everyone who contributed to this milestone achievement. Together, we continue to celebrate the power of music and the joy it brings to our Cathedral community.


Nave Choir Singer

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