“Compassionate dictatorship”: leading old singers in community choirs in Australia

Dawn Joseph, Jane Southcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In Australia, the ageing population generate challenges, pressures and opportunities for both governmental and community organisations. Involvement in community choirs offers older people diverse benefits that increase with ongoing participation. The music directors/conductors (MD/C) of community choirs are pivotal in the success of ensembles. This paper forms part of our wider study into Well-being and ageing: community, diversity and the arts in Victoria, Australia and addresses the questions, how do music directors/conductors (MD/C) of community choirs understand working with older people? And, how do older choir members understand the role of their MD/C? We interviewed two MD/Cs and thematically analysed our data. We present our findings under two overarching themes that evolved from our data analysis: Understandings of working with older people in a choir and musical leadership in a community setting. We found that the MD/Cs are reflective practitioners who imbued their facilitation and conducting with enthusiasm, skill, knowledge and passion for musical engagement. Our research suggests that to ensure longevity of choirs and to recognise the contribution of MD/Cs, greater attention should be paid to the upskilling of future generations of MD/Cs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1489-1504
Number of pages16
JournalThe Qualitative Report
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Community Choirs
  • Music Director And Conductor
  • Older People
  • Teaching And Learning
  • Musical And Conducting Competency
  • Case Study
  • Semi-Structured Interviews

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