The influence of vocal performance on singing self-concept

Forbes, Melissa ORCID: and Krause, Amanda and Lowe-Brown, Xanthe (2021) The influence of vocal performance on singing self-concept. In: International Symposium on Performance Science 2021, 27 Oct - 30 Oct 2021, Montreal, Canada.

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A growing body of research demonstrates that musical engagement is associated with wide range of well-being benefits. Additionally, research into musical identities indicates that musical self-concept plays a role in the extent to which we engage in musical activities. Therefore, when considering how to widen musical participation for well-being benefit, it is important to consider the role of individual identities which include some component of music. Musical self-concept, is, however, socially constructed; and little consideration has been given to defining the broader socio-cultural factors at play in the formation of musical self-concepts.


The present experiment was designed to better understand socio-cultural factors which are hypothesized as potentially influencing singing self-concept. In particular, drawing on social comparison theory, the experiment considered the potential influence of the exposure to different types of vocal performances on singing self-concept. Social comparison theory states that people evaluate themselves by comparing themselves to other people. The present study asked, “Does exposure to examples of certain types of singing influence participants’ own singing self-concept” and “If so, what is the nature of this influence and is a particular influence correlated with a particular example of singing”.


Australian residents were invited to complete an online experiment. After providing demographic information and answering a series of questions to establish a baseline for each participant in relation to music and identity, participants heard a one-minute recorded example of “Happy Birthday”. Participants were randomly allocated into one of four conditions, such that they heard either:

1.      Male and female trained singers performing in the style of “The Voice” reality television series

2.      Male and female trained singers performing a “plain” version

3.      Male and female untrained singers performing “as they would normally sing the song”

4.      A control version (unaccompanied piano)

After listening to the audio clip, participants responded to a series of items concerning the singing technique, level of difficulty, and perceived similarities/differences between the performer and the participant. Lastly, participants were asked to reflect on their own singing ability.


Data collection is currently underway. Preliminary analyses (N = 145) indicate that people judged the quality of the performances differently, such that the quality was rated highest for the traditional professional performance and lowest for the amateur performance. People in the traditional and amateur singing conditions reported higher confidence in being able to sing along with the performers than those in the “The Voice” condition. Interestingly, however, people’s direct ratings for being able to sing well/having no singing talent were not affected by the audio condition, such that it is possible that previous music experience might moderate the relationship. Supplementary analyses will draw on additional data concerning how musical self-concept relates to well-being.


The present study extends research into the socio-cultural construction of musical self-concept. Findings have theoretical implications for considering how musical self-concept development may influence adult participation in music activities and, thus, individual well-being. In addition, the findings have practical implications for how music educators develop supportive and engaging music-making opportunities.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2021 06:54
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2021 00:55
Uncontrolled Keywords: singing, self-concept, identity, wellbeing
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190407 Music Performance
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3603 Music > 360304 Music performance
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280122 Expanding knowledge in creative arts and writing studies

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