Can I stand next to my friend?
Peers (age contemporaries)
A young person’s peers play an important role in their growth and development. You feel good when you are with them and when you realize that you have something in common: you share the same interests, like the same films, books, and games, enjoy doing the same things, wear the same kind of clothes, talk the same way, etc. But you also note that you sometimes have the same worries and questions (Am I okay the way I am? What if I want to think differently from the others? How can I belong? What will happen if I don’t do well at school? What do I want to do later in life?). At the same time, you also see that there are differences, because you never act, think, and feel exactly the same as someone else. All these experiences help you to understand who you are, how unique you are, what you can and cannot do, what you mean for others, what passions you have, and who you most like being with. In other words, your peers help you to think about yourself and to think about others. Peers often admire each other for their performance at school, their large group of friends, their sporting prowess, their physical attributes, their temperament or character. Gradually, you begin to realize that external characteristics (clothes, money, trendy sportswear or expensive school equipment) are less important than simply feeling good in someone else’s company. By watching, listening, and talking, you can learn a lot from your peers. Similarly, trying out new things is also something you are more likely to do with your peers than with, say, your brothers and sisters. In this way, you learn in a small group the important lessons of life that you will need to apply later on when you are an adult: caring for each other, giving and receiving criticism in a positive manner, taking the lead but also being prepared to follow, listening to each other, making and carrying out plans, asking for and giving help, learning about the opposite sex, learning how to trust each other, dealing with authority, etc.
Not all peers are friends and not all friends are peers. The typical characteristics of friendship are great trust and an absence of self-interest. This means that you do something for a friend because you realize he needs it, not because it benefits you. This also means that you have to try and imagine what someone else is thinking, feeling and wanting. This is something that we only learn as we get older. With very young children, ‘friends’ tend to be little more than ‘playmates’, people that we do things with. At this age, thoughts and feeling only play a very minor role. Later (between the ages of four and nine years), we learn that other children think and feel differently from ourselves, but there is still no attempt to form bonds with those who think and feel the same as we do. It is only later still (between the ages of six and twelve years) that we understand that friendship is reciprocal, that it works both ways. Thanks to this new ability to put yourself in the position of your friend, you are able to build up your friendship on a basis of trust, so that the relationship becomes closer (nine to fifteen years of age). Finally, the friends become dependent on each other, although a great respect for each other’s personal autonomy still remains (from twelve years onwards). Typically, friends spend a lot of time in each other’s company. As a result, it is also logical that you want to sing with your friend(s) in the choir. Sometimes this is possible; sometimes it is not. If your voices are different, it may be better for the overall sound if you stand in different sections of the choir. But even if you are not standing next to each other, you are still singing in the same choir and this will help to strengthen your friendship still further. And people who are not yet your friends may eventually become so, simply because you are sharing the same intense experience.
43% of children and youngsters say that they make contact with other people more easily since they have been singing in a choir. 40% report that they are now more willing to take the initiative and one in three says that they are more willing to stand up for themselves and their ideas. An increases in shyness and more/less attention for their own person were not reported to any significant degree.
In answer to a specific question about the effect of singing in a choir on their feeling of relaxation, 65.3% of the young choristers say that they are now more relaxed. One in five was not certain how to answer this question.