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A River Rather Than a Road

The Community Choir as Spiritual Experience


Sarah Morgan and June Boyce-Tillman

This book is an auto-ethnographic account of the development of a charismatic community choir leader. It brings together management literature and a survey of the community choir scene with the development of community choir leadership. It provides a useful introduction to the sustaining of community choirs, including the use of English folksong
material in this context. Some useful arrangements of folk songs are included. Community singing events are described with helpful advice on setting up and managing these. It presents a useful model of the range of skills necessary for aspiring community choir leaders. This is linked with the formation of a community that contains spiritual elements; this is theorized in relation to the role of the parish church in communal singing. It also discusses the two aesthetics of choral singing and the relationship between oral and literate traditions. The book arises from the engagement of the University of Winchester in partnership with the local community, which is theorized.
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3 Leadership and Influence


In this chapter I will look at my role as a choir leader, and at my contributions to the wider community choir world. I will look briefly at some models of leadership and management and how they relate to the world of music and choirs, and suggest an alternative model for the community choir leader, as well as indicate ways in which this model might be used for development purposes. Then I examine my choir leadership, using feedback from a variety of sources, and by means of analysing a recording of a choir rehearsal; I will also refer briefly to examples of how I initiated a number of choirs and singing groups. Then I turn to the training and development of new choir leaders, and give an account of the course I have developed for ‘songleaders’, together with some of the outcomes of the course. I describe some additional aspects of my contribution to the community choir scene at a county and national level, by means of various projects, including a community choirs festival, a national conference, and training events, some of which are described in greater detail in Chapter 4.

Paradigms of leadership and conducting

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