Conference Morsel: Locating Male Singers
Date: May 16, 2014
(An excerpt from the interest session “Recruiting and Retaining Adolescent Males in an Urban School,” presented by Nicolás Alberto Dosman during the 2014 ACDA Eastern Division Conference)
Many young men may enjoy singing but they may be reluctant to participate in choral ensembles. A combination of many variables can be exacerbated in hyper-masculine environments which are sometimes associated with urban school settings. Male role models, peer interaction, and the potential for camaraderie that may be developed in choral programs may be an antidote to the stereotypes that may keep otherwise interested males from singing in their school choir. If one had very few boys in one’s program then one could organize a district or regional all-male workshop to create this kind of an experience. This strategy was effective for me when I taught middle school music in Miami-Dade County public schools and had a difficult time recruiting boys. Two of my middle school boys had participated in the Florida ACDA Male Honor choir and they expressed how transformative it was for them to me and their peers when they had returned to Miami. I think this assisted me in attracting more boys to my program. Adolescent boys are looking for opportunities to develop a masculine identity and we as choral directors can provide opportunities for them to do just that even in challenging circumstances. Moreover, some studies suggest this type of mentorship can positively impact adolescent males. Mentorship coupled with camaraderie with peers can be the key to attracting boys into our programs. In urban settings, particular those that have economic challenges, we can provide a positive environment as well as have a positive impact on the lives of our students.