I greatly anticipated teaching in middle school with the prospect of directing mixed choruses, after having taught elementary school music for five years. Upon entering the middle school, I found that there were very few boys involved in the choral program. One choir had just one boy involved. In the following years, male enrollment increased, but not enough to achieve a good balance of sound between the male and female voices. In my opinion, a mixed chorus of both males and females is the preferred foundational choir. I therefore needed to find out why there were so few boys involved in choir and why so few continued singing in choir the next year.
The purpose of this study was to identify the issues that influence a boy’s desire to participate in a choral program, and to examine how these issues may influence the recruitment and retention of these boys in an urban middle school choral program. In order to identify these issues, I first examined the relevant literature. Three areas of concern arose from this search: 1. the adolescent male voice change; 2. the role of males in society as it affects the music curriculum; 3. the relevancy of music to future career choices.
Data were collected from male students in my choirs at the middle school. Eleven seventh-and eighth-grade boys were interviewed in order to compare their answers to questions concerning choir with the conclusion of the music educators in the literature. A series of twenty-two questions were developed from the relevant literature and from my own experience.
From the data collection I found that: 1. Boys do enjoy singing; 2. Boys in choir want to feel important to the group; 3. Boys want their music preferences to be validated in a choral program; 4. Boys want assistance in learning to use their voices; 5. Boys who truly like to sing are not threatened by the male gender-role.
These findings led me to the conclusion that boys at the middle school level do not participate in choir because it is thought of as a feminine activity, and they do not see it as being relevant to their lives.
Recommendations for further research included further study of the comparisons between middle school and high school males concerning this topic including the comparison of opinions between different ethnic groups, and the comparison of opinions on this topic demographically.