Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Music

Supervisor

Dr. Paul Woodford

Abstract

The Czech Republic has experienced a rich history of singing over many centuries that helped to promote a spirit of national and ethnic identity, culture, and pride. Singing has long been valued because it helped bond people together during difficult times, including during the years of communism. In this thesis, I provide a brief historical overview of music education in the Czech Lands (now Czech Republic) to show how choral music education, as a central part of the curriculum for centuries in this territory, influenced the development of Czech nationalism. The main focus is on choral music education practices and perceptions during the dramatic political changes that occurred during and after communist domination in the latter half of the twentieth century until 2011. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the growing dissatisfaction of the population with the economic and political situation in the country resulted in the Velvet Revolution led by unarmed students marching and singing in the streets, which ultimately led to the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia. This thesis provides an historical and narrative account of the education system and more specifically, choral music education. The study draws heavily on the personal testimonies of four prominent Czech choral music educators who lived and worked during the communist regime, and through the transition to democracy and now during the capitalist economic system. These individuals were interviewed for their personal and professional knowledge of, and insights into, social, political, or economic factors that influenced choral music education in the Czech Lands. The conclusion of this dissertation is not that communism or democracy is necessarily better for Czech choral music education. With the onset of democracy, globalization, technological advances, and goals of individualism and capitalism, people have access to other, far more powerful and far-reaching means to communicate—not just locally, but globally. Singing no longer holds a pivotal & central place, and radical changes in structures are necessary if the choral art is to regain its former prominence. Attention to teacher education practices, and innovative pedagogies & repertoire that educate singing teachers to empower their students will be required to ensure there is quality choral music education in generations to come.


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