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Singing Europe, a Research Project that counts

--- This article was published in the "European Choral Magazine" 1/2014 ---

 

For the first time in Europe, a research project was set up to produce reliable statistical data on „people singing together“. This knowledge should help national and European organisations set up programmes that better address the needs of the singing community and convince policy makers to support it.

The Singing Europe research project is coordinated by the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat in the frame of the VOICE project.

Singing Europe relies on two main sources of information:

 

On the public side: a Europe-wide multilingual online survey targeting all the choirs and ensembles – see www.singingeurope.org. Its aim is to gather detailed information about the realities of individual choirs and ensembles in each geographical area.

On the professional side: a specific questionnaire that is oriented towards organisations that can share the knowledge and statistical data they have on a country, a region and/or on their own membership. Its aim is to obtain global figures about the different countries and areas of Europe.

 

By combining these two sources we should be able to answer questions of interest for the whole musical community, and provide an evidence-based picture of our “singing Europe”. The gathering of answers will continue until mid-2014. In early 2015 a comprehensive report, detailing the statistical and organisational reality of our Singing Europe will be published. This report will be freely available for the whole singing community. Singing Europe will try to answer some pending questions on „singing together“ in Europe. Details on organisational and material aspects of ensembles can help draw a classification of singing groups in different European countries. We will try to recognise new trends, and maybe identify emerging questions that should be addressed. But our aim is to provide the whole cultural community with data they can use for their own reflection and debates.

 

 

Promote the project! Share singingeurope.org!

The success of this research lies in your hands. The more ensembles answer the online survey, the more accurate and significant the results. Through simple means, you can contribute to this community driven project and prove the powers of networking!

Just ask all the ensemble and choirs in your networks to spread the news about the Singing Europe survey. The survey is now translated into more than 20 languages, all accessible from the page www.singingeurope.org. On the website, you will find graphical elements to download and contact information to get in touch with us.

 

 

Some temporary results from the study

The online survey for choirs has received more than 4000 answers to date. This is of course not enough to draw conclusions, and we are still in the process of gathering statistical information on every country and region. Therefore, you will here read only some very partial figures based on incomplete data.

Here is a breakup of the answers according to the country of residence of the choir (only the top 6 of the list, we have answers from other countries of course).

Country Number of choirs answearing Total number of singers described National Population covered
France 457 17731 0,03%
Slovenia 393 12530 0,63%
Belgium 173 6858 0,06%
Germany 173 7387 0,01%
Czech Republic 146 4723 0,04%
Italy 108 3132 0,01%

We have a very good participation of the French Choirs in total numbers, but when compared with the global population of the country, the balance is a bit different: for example, Belgium offers twice the coverage (0,06% of the population). But the size of the sample (173 choirs) is still a bit small. Only Slovenia offers a usable subsample for the time being. We will thus use Slovenia as an example for the sample results.

Slovenia as an example

 

Here is, as an example based on the partial results we have for Slovenia, the kind of information that can be developed once we have enough data on a specific area.

 

Out of a population of 2 million inhabitants, our survey covers 12530 singers in Slovenia, 0,6% of the national population. The „Slovenian Music Information Centre“ claims 2300 registered ensembles. Thus, with our 393 answers we have 17% of the registered ensembles of the country covered. Based on our figures, we could also infer that these 2300 ensembles gather 73300 singers, that would amount to 3,7% of the country population. We can compare this figure to the 21% of Slovenians who say that they sing, either alone or in a group setting, as a cultural activity (Eurobarometer 2013).

 

So we can assume that the real figure of Choral Singers is somewhere between 3,7% and 21% for Slovenia... These figures are better than nothing, but not good enough yet! We will keep on gathering national and statistical data to reach a figure with a better precision level.

 

How large are the choirs?

The average size of the ensemble is

EUROPE: 36 singers

France: 39 singers

Slovenia: 32 singers

Belgium: 40 singers

Germany: 43 singers

Czech Republic: 32 singers

Italy: 29 singers

 

 

Balance of genre in choirs

The average ratio of men singing in our sample is 35% (but 44% in Slovenia). This means that one singer out of three is a man. But do these male singers stay together, or do they join mixed choirs?

 

 

The table tells us that „8,3% of the choirs of the European Sample are composed of over 75% male singers“

If we agree to describe as „male choir“ a choir with over 75% male singers, Slovenia seems to have a stronger proportion of „male“ choirs than our European average. In the European sample, 18,4% of the male singers sing in „male“ choirs, but these „male“ choirs comprise 39,4% of the male singers in Slovenia, maybe pointing to a stronger tradition of male singing than in some other countries.

 

 

Where and how often do they rehearse?

Choirs rehearse on average 3 hours per week. From our sample, we can also discover where the choirs rehearse.

 

 

Rehearsal Place

The conductors are paid for some or all of the rehearsals in 57% of the choirs in the European Sample, but 69% in the Slovenian sample.

 

All these figures are interesting in themselves, but will really bear fruit when we have enough answers to work on different subsamples, and to offer meaningful typologies of the choral Europe. So spread the word about the Singing Europe initiative!

 

Can you describe choral singing in your area? Then, answer our Questionnaire for organisations!

The questionnaire for organisations aims at collecting the existing knowledge on „singing together“ in Europe. Pieces of information from all over Europe will be put together for the first time to create a common European picture.

 

If you are representing a choral organisation, a music related organisation, a cultural institution, a research center or an other entity which may have some statistical information and orientation in choral life in your area, please answer this questionnaire! In this way you help with collecting documentation for the final study on „singing together“ in Europe to be published at the beginning of 2015.

 

The questionnaire for organisations is to be found online under the link: http://pro.singingeurope.org or as downloadable file under the address: http://paper.singingeurope.org

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