Music, School of


First Advisor

Rhonda J. Fuelberth

Date of this Version


Document Type



Nannen, B. E. (2017). "Choir is for girls": Intersectional mixed methods perspectives on adolescent gender identity, singing interest, and choral music participation (Doctoral dissertation).


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor Rhonda J. Fuelberth. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Briana E. Nannen


As students progress through adolescent development, researchers have observed a lack of male participation in choral music activities. This male to female imbalance is often attributed to a perception that singing is a feminine activity and results in a lack of balance in choral music ensembles. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore adolescent gender identity as it relates to singing interest and choral music participation. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was used, in which quantitative data were collected and analyzed followed by in-depth qualitative interviews. A group of 9th grade students (n=174) completed the Children’s Sex Role Inventory and the Singing Interest Inventory to gauge their self-perceived levels of masculinity and femininity along with their level of singing interest. Information from the quantitative portion of this study indicated that girls had both a higher interest in singing and a higher rate of participation in choral music ensembles than their male peers. A significant contribution of this study was that although singing is often perceived as feminine, no significant differences were found between categorized gender groups and singing interest.

Qualitative interviews were conducted with two groups of male students who were not enrolled in choir: low singing interest scores (n=4) and high singing interest scores (n=4). Transcribed and coded interviews resulted in the following themes: low singing interest, Guys are physical, Girls are feminine, Shared perceptions, Guys don’t sing, and Calling them names; high singing interest, Men want muscles, Girls are expressive, Shared perceptions, Choir is for girls, Get made fun of, and No labels. The shared theme Shared perceptions suggests that participant perceptions are the same as their parents and friends. The theme No labels was unique to the high singing interest group. Participants in that group demonstrated a higher level of acceptance for atypical gender behavior.

Advisor: Rhonda J. Fuelberth