“It’s Like a Whole Bunch of Me!”
The purpose of this ethnographic study was to explore the perceived values and benefits associated with participation in a highly successful community-based girls’ choral ensemble. The benefits of membership in the Seattle Girls’ Choir organization were explored, with particular attention to the expressed values and observed behaviors of choristers. Regular choir rehearsals, musicianship classes, festival and summer camp experiences, concert performances, faculty, staff and board meetings, and other community events were documented carefully and examined during a yearlong period of fieldwork. Semistructured interviews with choristers, faculty members, parents, and staff members were used to elicit participant perspectives on the girls’ choir experience and the perceived values and benefits of participation. Emergent themes included music, personal, social, and external benefits, which were examined in an effort to augment an ever-growing understanding of modern music-making and the value of music engagement in the lives of participants.