PURPOSE : Coordination of group activity is rarely more important than in a singing group that has no designated conductor. This paper aims to explore the group dynamics in an 11-man singing group whose members, all over 60, have without exception occupied senior leadership positions in their working careers. The study arose because responses to a wider research study revealed interesting perceptions of leadership issues in the group.
DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : All the members participated in semi-structured interviews and interpretative phenomenological analysis of the responses was used to process the responses. This enabled the identification of practices that support the group’s success and illustrated how this group of practiced “leaders” respond to a (relatively) conductorless situation.
FINDINGS : It was confirmed that the group exhibits several characteristics of self-managed teams and string quartets. All members felt empowered to take a lead, although their backgrounds might have predisposed them to take such initiatives anyway. But the long-serving female accompanist is, by virtue inter alia of her superior musicianship, which appears to overcome any gender bias, in many respects the de facto leader. In performance, the singers synchronize their singing in response to cues from each other, but this could work better if given more specific attention.
ORIGINALITY/VALUE : Whereas conducted choirs have been extensively studied, such a self-managed group of amateur singers, all of whom are accustomed to leading in their working careers, has apparently not been studied. This study sheds some light on techniques for overcoming the challenges of creating quality performance in such a group and insights for similar groups, not necessarily musical, are identified.