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ChoralNet: How many Choral Singers are there?

Date: Mon, 1 Jan 1996 15:56:13 -0500
From: NLGilbert(a)
Subject: Statistics on Choral Singers (summary)

Dear Choralist,

On December 10, I asked:
>Does anyone have a statistic for the percentage of the general
>population. . . that sings in choirs?

I've gotten some interesting answers.

Claude Tagger reported from France within a few minutes of my posting the

>My usual affirmation is that we have identified about 200000 choirs in the
>world, members of IFCM's direct or indirect member organisations. So that we
>would reach a total of 10 million singers or 1,7 per thousand of the world's
>But a better analysis is to be obtained in West Germany. 45000 declared
>or about 1,5 million singers for a population of 60 million. That is 1
>for 40 inhabitants, or 2,5 %. It includes church choirs, but excludes school
>In Slovenia, we were told of 200000 singers, or about 10 % of the
population. A
>very high figure.
>In Estonia, I have seen 28000 singers on the (same) stage at the same time.
>a population of 1 million Estonians (excluding other origins) that is 2,8 %.
>There were also 300000 spectators present. The figure of 10 % to 30 %
>applies, depending on what you call a singer.

Harriet Simons of Buffalo recalls a Roper poll she quoted in a Choral Journal
article, possibly giving a statistic of 22%.

David Dawson of the Australian Navy suggests,

>A chat with Gustaf Sjkokvist (conductor, Stockholm Cathedral Choir, and
>Professor of Choral Conducting at the Swedish Royal Academy of music)
>reveals that approximately 10% of the country of Sweden regularly sings
>in choirs. It would probably be OK to equate that across the board in
>Scandinavia. They have a system of music schools and choirs unparallelled
>(excpt maybe in Hungary...?)

Frank Albinder of Chanticleer offers:

>When we were in Estonia for a choral festival, they told us that
>more than 30% of their population sings in organized choirs.

Wally Collins recalls:

>I vaguely remember a government figure of some years ago that
>there were an estimated 50,000 [choirs] in the US. If the average
>size is 20, say, assuming
>that many church choirs are pretty small, that makes about a
>million people singing in choirs.
>I suspect that something two or three times that amount is
>probably closer to the truth, but I have no figures. The
>Barbershoppers themselves claim
>some pretty high figures just for their bunch.

Wally also suggests seeing what I can learn from the Census Bureau. Paul
Hill suggested calling:
>Chorus America at 212-563-2430. They are not on line, so far as
>I know.

Meegan Bernstein, a student at the Hartt School, says:

>I heard a nasty rumor from John Feierabend that only 2% of this
>nation's population becomes proficient musicians...choralers?
>now that's a different question...

Jean/Roxy of the stumpers listserv found:

> The Almanac of the American People (1988) says that
>a Louis Harris poll in 1985 found that 38 million Americans sang
>in a choir or choral group.
> According to the World Almanac, the U.S. population figures
> 1980: 226,542,203
> 1990: 248,709,873
> my advanced math, between 15-16% of Americans
>singing in some group or other in 1985.

Jean adds:

> The Almanac also says that, according to the American Music
>Conference in 1986, 51% of all households included at least one
>amateur musician. (They were talking about instrumentalists.)
>So go figure.

Thanks (again) to all who contributed these interesting numbers for us to
play with.

Happy New Year,

Nina Gilbert

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Falls Church, Virginia