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In pursuit of harmony: The social and organisational factors in a professional vocal ensemble

Psychology of Music

Published online on


How do chamber music ensembles consistently succeed in achieving a level of harmony that many other work groups can only dream of? Through an in-depth case study of a professional vocal ensemble, this study explores some of the factors that underlie the excellence of chamber music ensembles as work groups. Qualitative interview data revealed information about member characteristics, leadership models, task distribution, decision making, relationships, conflicts, the artistic production process, characteristics of good ensemble singing, group aspirations, issues of identity, and challenges as musicians. In particular, the ensemble members’ collective commitment to excellence was striking. Results further revealed that members possess a set of highly relevant personal and interpersonal skills that are manifested both on and off stage: self awareness, restraint, interpersonal awareness, and mutual sensitivity. It is suggested that this set of skills is crucial in enabling musicians to collaborate in pursuit of their collective artistic endeavours.