I Sing Because...

An exciting new journey is underfoot!

We’re excited this week because we we’ve finally been able to introduce some of our choirs to our new pilot research project, Making Sense of Group Singing. People’s stories are starting to come in, and we’re already capturing some amazing stories about why people sing.

The research has been developed by Dave (Dr. Camlin with his ‘research’ hat on) with the Cynefin Centre at Bangor University using the Sensemaker software which they created as part of their bigger Making of Meaning project.

Sensemaker is the world's first ‘distributed ethnography’ which is simply a way of capturing people's lived experiences (ethnography), in this instance of group singing. Rather than using traditional methods like interviews and focus groups where the researcher can inadvertently bias the results, it leaves responsibility for how people ‘interpret’ their experiences in their own hands as the story-teller.

Basically, the software invites you to tell a story, and then to interpret the story you've just told. In this way we are able to build up a really rich map of people's experiences. You ‘interpret’ your story by mapping it against a series of triangles with equally weighted positive aspects e.g. your story had a personal benefit, a social one, and / or a community one. One aspect  might be stronger than the other two or they might all be equally important. As the number of stories increases, they start to ‘cluster’ in interesting ways so that more universal meanings start to reveal themselves.

It's taken quite a lot of development and refinement to get the software environment ready, but now that choir members are sharing their stories, it's all been worth it!

We’ve had stories so far of what’s inspired people to join a choir, stories of how singing together has helped people through difficult times, singing as a gift, and some lovely reflections on the joy of being immersed in group singing “like being snuggled in an enormous warm duvet”!

As this pilot project grows, and more people share their stories, it’s going to become a fascinating document of the value of group singing. We’re hoping we can turn it into a full international research project, making connections between the many thousands of people across the globe who enjoy group singing as part of their everyday creativity, to lift their spirits, or connect with others through song.

We’re hoping that after the pilot finishes in September, we can turn it into a much bigger project and collect more stories about group singing from anyone who wants to share them. In the meantime, if you want to follow the research as it develops, be sure to sign up to our mailing list. If you have an iPad, you can also read some of the stories that people have chosen to make public. Download the ‘Sensemaker Explorer’ app and enter the Download Code ‘Sing’ to get access to the ‘live’ data as it evolves!