Chorus America is a national organization that supports the work of choral groups (especially independent choruses) around the country. The Michael O’Neal Singers has been a proud member of Chorus America for many years. In 2009 Chorus America commissioned a study of the impact of choruses and choral singing in our American life. There were four key findings:
Finding #1 – Choral singing continues to be the most popular form of participation in the performing arts. There are an estimated 32.5 million adults regularly singing in choruses today and 42.6 million Americans overall (including children).
Finding #2 – Adults who sing in choruses are remarkably good citizens. Chorus members are avid patrons of the arts, they volunteer significantly more frequently than the general public, they contribute much more financially to philanthropic organizations than the average American, and they exhibit greater civic leadership than their fellow Americans.
Finding #3 – Children who sing in choruses have academic success and valuable life skills. Children who sing in choruses get significantly better grades in school, they are more likely to possess qualities conducive to learning and development, e.g., good memory, good practice and homework habits, and high levels of creativity, and finally, they are better team players and have more advanced social skills.
Finding #4 – The decline in choral singing opportunities for children and youth is a key area for concern. More than one in four educators say there is no choir program in their schools and one in five parents say there are no choir opportunities for their children in their communities.
Obviously, the first three findings are excellent news for those of us who love choral music, while the fourth finding is distressing, especially in light of the first three. I would encourage everyone who cares about the future of choral music to spread the information obtained from this study. It provides an opportunity to express pride in the impact of the choral artistic effort, and also gives a chance to encourage actions that will foster choral growth for generations to come. A copy of the full Chorus Impact Study is available from Chorus America at www.chorusamerica.org.