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Tone deaf? Non-singers sought for a new research project 'Finding a Voice'

Date: 06/07/2016

Adult non-singers are being sought to participate in an exciting new research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project, named ‘Finding a voice: The art and science of unlocking the potential of adult non-singers’ aims to understand the journey of learning to sing in adulthood. The project is led by led by Research Fellow Dr Karen Wise of the Guildhall School.

Dr Karen Wise commented, “There are lots of opportunities these days for people to sing, and more and more of us are discovering the pleasure it can bring. Research shows that singing is good for our wellbeing. But a large percentage of people think of themselves as unable to sing, and avoid singing even though they would secretly like to. If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you. This project is an opportunity for people to explore the potential of their voice with enthusiastic, supportive teachers and workshop leaders. At the same time, they will help us discover valuable new knowledge about what it means to learn to sing as an adult, how singing skills develop, and the best ways of enabling that.”

Starting in April 2016, Finding a Voice is a 33-month project focusing on people who are not singing, engaging them in specially designed programmes including individual and group sessions with experienced teachers. It combines psychological, educational and artistic research to give an integrated understanding of the journeys adult non-singers take in learning to sing, and the ways in which they can be supported. The project aims to investigate the best ways of helping non-singers engage in meaningful participation in singing and improve their skills, and to show what their developmental journeys look like.

The first phase of the project will run from September 2016 to June 2017 and will see a group of people who consider themselves non-singers engaging in individual and group sessions to track both their progress and effective teaching practice. The second phase will focus on the development of an app to train auditory imagery - the ability to imagine sounds in the ‘mind’s ear’ - and test the effects of this on singing.

The Guildhall School is now recruiting participants for the first phase, seeking people who consider themselves non-singers and can commit to weekly term-time teaching sessions at or near the Guildhall School from September 2016 to June 2017. Ideal candidates include people who, for example, haven’t sung since childhood because someone told them not to, who perhaps can’t carry a tune, or think of themselves as ‘tone deaf’, those who have difficulties with singing that they want to overcome, or simply want to feel confident enough to join in with Happy Birthday.

To register interest, please visit www.gsmd.ac.uk/findingavoice to fill in the online questionnaire. All participants will be recruited before the end of July.

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is supported by the City of London Corporation.

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact AHRC Comms Officer, Emi Spinner. Tel: 01793 41 60 20 or email: e.spinner@ahrc.ac.uk

About Arts and Humanities Research Council
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class research in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and many more. Each year the AHRC spends approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training often in collaboration with partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds provide considerable economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK.

About Guildhall School of Music & Drama
The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is one of the world's leading conservatoires and drama schools, offering musicians, actors and theatre technicians an inspiring environment in which to develop as artists and professionals. Research at the Guildhall School explores fundamental questions about the creative arts from an ever-increasing range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Research active members of staff have won a number of awards from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, and the School has recently expanded its doctoral programme, which now includes partnership studentships with the Royal Opera House and Barbican Centre. In addition to the institution’s regular programme of research-focused events, and a tri-annual Reflective Conservatoire conference, the Guildhall School has been selected to host the 52nd annual conference of the Royal Musical Association in September 2016. www.gsmd.ac.uk

About Karen Wise
Dr Karen Wise is a psychologist, teacher and classical mezzo soprano. She is a Research Fellow at the Guildhall School and teaches on the doctoral programme, providing research training and supervision, and is a psychology lecturer for the MA in Music Therapy. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the British Psychological Society, and serves on the committee of the Society for Education and Music Psychology Research (SEMPRE). She has published on the psychology of singing, with a particular focus on singing difficulties in untrained and ‘non-singing’ or self-defined ‘tone deaf’ adults as well as the psychology of performance in professional and student musicians, from practising and creativity to audience-performer relationships. Her work at the School has included collaborative research projects with Britten Sinfonia and English Touring Opera.

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