VocaLife is envisioned as a coordinated stream of international-comparative research projects on singing and lifelong community health in
VocaLife is collaboratively led by Professor David G. Hebert (Grieg
Phase 1 of VocaLife is a comparison of choral singing in contemporary Japanese and Scandinavian societies. Later phases of VocaLife will expand the scope of inquiry to also consider Baltic nations, such as Latvia and
Singing is widely recognized by psychological and medical researchers as a uniquely effective activity for stress-reduction and general mental health, and is also acknowledged by sociologists and anthropologists to be a universally meaningful practice in terms of both social integration and construction of cultural meanings. However, in contemporary industrialized consumer societies, music has increasingly become an object that is passively consumed rather than actively produced by amateurs, and in recent generations singing has gradually disappeared from the regular activities of most people. Meanwhile, social problems have proliferated, ranging from a general alienation of the aging population to even high-profile acts of mass violence among adolescents in schools.
We propose that a careful investigation of the situation in
Japan and will lead to important insights. Finland is highly significant in this field as home to some of the world's largest national choir competitions and festivals and popular televised singing events, as well as the origin of karaoke and related amateur vocal activities. Japan is also internationally significant as the home of many highly influential choirs and choral composers, as well as an internationally-renowned system of music education. Prominent companies such as Sony (of Finland Japan) and Nokia (of ) also call for consideration, since in 2009 they became the first to offer unlimited music downloads on some mobile phones, enabling instant and free access to thousands of songs for the first time in history. Finland
The year 2009 marked the 90th anniversary of diplomacy between
Japan and . According to Finland Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, " Japan and have consistently maintained a friendly relationship, since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1919, and exchanged diplomatic missions in 1921. In recent years, the relationship between Finland Japan and has expanded steadily in not only the economic and trade areas, but also in the cultural and academic fields. Finland Japan concluded in 1978 a cultural agreement with , which was the first of this kind among the Nordic countries." Norway also has a close relationship with Japan, having formally established diplomatic relations in 1905. Finland
VocaLife has established contacts with the Finnish Institute in
Japan via the Embassy of Finland in . Grant applications will be proposed to obtain financial support for VocaLife research endeavors in association with the Nordic research network NNIMIPA. Tokyo
Prospective Advisory Board: (to be confirmed)
- Hebert, D. G., Kallio, A. A. & Odendaal, A. (2012). "Not So Silent Night: Tradition, Transformation, and Cultural Understandings of Christmas Music Events in Helsinki, Finland". Ethnomusicology Forum, Vol. 21, No.3, pp.402-423.
- Hebert, D. G. & Heimonen, M. (2013). “Public Policy and Music Education in Norway and Finland,” Arts Education Policy Review, Vol. 114, No. 3, special issue on “Cosmopolitanism and Policy” (pp.135-148).
- Hebert, D. G. (2012, in press). “International Comparisons in the Improvement of Education,” Signum Temporis: Journal of Research in Pedagogy and Psychology, Vol. 5 [based on keynote speech for Theory for Practice in the Education of Contemporary Society, Riga, Latvia].