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Ethnomusicology and Music Education

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Research Issues

Ethnomusicology provides a vital research model for ethnographies in music education. The main difference is that ethnographies in music education revolve around educational issues which are directly related to the training and education of music. Virginia Garrison (1985) conducted a study to find out the varying forms of fiddle instruction of folk music in Cape Breton. The folk musicians of Cape Breton felt that their tradition was in danger of becoming extinct, in order to avoid that they organized a program to teach and learn fiddling through fiddle classes. The main research issue of the Garrison study was whether or not the uniqueness of traditional teaching methods and learning practices in an instrumental folk music tradition can be maintained when these are practiced in formal, non-traditional contexts.

In order to answer this general question, Garrison had to answer two related sub-questions:

  1. What are the features of traditional teaching and learning procedures and contexts as recognized by carriers of the tradition?
  2. What features of traditional teaching and learning procedures are preserved and which are lost and/or replaced as the folk music tradition shifts into more modern contexts?

Researcher Background

Since the researcher is the key catalyst, her expertise, qualifications, and background, were important factors in the shaping of the study. Garrison was a music educator with 20 years of experience in teaching music in the schools. Apart from teaching, she was keen in knowing the phenomenon restoration and protection of folk music, and she had wide background in ethnomusicology and educational anthropology.

Methodology

Since the study required examination of teaching and learning practices in their natural social contexts it required face-to-face and widespread observation and communication with the people actually involved in these practices. In a short span of six years, Garrison conducted 72 observations of fiddlers who were practicing and 49 fresher’s (students) in a range of contexts, including fiddler classes, house parties, social gatherings, selected concerts, etc. at which the fiddle was being played. The entire observations were audio taped, photographs were taken. Garrison also conducted interviews, questionnaires were also administered by her to some of the participants and in addition Garrison maintained a personal dairy to document all the findings.

Research Findings

Data analysis of interviews revealed characteristics of successful fiddle learners of the past like passion of the fiddle, sense of responsibility for learning on their own and self-motivation.

Interviews provided data on different stages of being initiated into the process of playing in the past. The results suggested that the learner’s characteristics was not automatic, however the cultural context in which the learner resided provided the rich environment which motivated them to enhance their characteristics. The results also revealed some of the differences from previous to present traditions, for example,(1) included emphasis on discipline rather than intrinsic motivation; (2) individual learning rather than community based learning; (3) extremely developed music reading skills rather than only audio learning skills; and (4) the ratio of female learners were more compared to male learners.

Discussion

Ethnographers give more importance for understanding rather than taking action. Based on Garrison’s study the following research implications were identified:

  1. Self-motivation. In traditional learning, the craving to compose music comes from motivational catalyst which is provided by the musicians and situations which are prevailing in the learner’s home and community. If the learner’s home and community have not provided the context necessary for such motivation, then the teacher is obligated to do so in the non-traditional context of the school classroom.
  2. Passion of the music. We cannot have passion for music which we are not familiar with. In folk society, the passion for the society’s traditional music grows out of the learner’s unified experiences not only with the sounds of the music, but also with the people and contexts in which those sounds are emanated. So, it is the duty of the teacher in non-traditional teaching and learning contexts to find ways to give these unified experiences to guarantee the required artistic pleasure.
  3. Accountability for one’s own learning: the confidence of performance in folk society is associated to the folk musician’s approval of the accountability for their own music learning. The musician might have, intentionally or reflexively, learnt music through participation, observation, and experimentation which have, over time, been mainly optimistic and pleasant. Whereas in nontraditional contexts, the music learners needed lot of opportunities to experiment, observe, and hear and execute the folk music in pleasing real-life situations.

Ethnographic study elucidates the center on culture and its inherent, shared values and messages where all facets of culture and music are potentially pertinent. It provides a rich description of practices, cultural scenes, and beliefs. Triangulation techniques were used by the researcher in concluding on a variety of sources, contexts, and techniques. Most notably, it reveals the hidden meanings held by the participants about specific music practices (formal and informal).

IMPLICATIONS: COMPANIES USING ETHNOGRAPHY

Best Buy

Best Buy, a leading U. S consumer electronics retailer, headquartered in Richfield, Minnesota, was interested in exploring the feasibility of expanding its selection of health and fitness departments within its stores. They were interested to know how well customers would accept this brand expansion with a particular focus on creating a health and fitness shopping experience that would appeal to female shoppers.

The researcher conducted a sequence of in-home groups of female shoppers who had recently purchased the equipment. The aim of the researcher was to understand the decision making process and also to recognize the motivation for investing in equipment. During the research work, the researcher recorded the stories said by the female participants about stores which they often visited and also their experiences with the shopkeepers Best Buy was also included.

The researcher provided Best Buy with numerous updates all through the discovery phase to help Best Buy in the progress of three uniquely staged in-store fitness departments. The researcher recruited participants conducting interviews at the residence of the participants, as part of that consumer engagement, conducted shop-alongs (refers to one-on-one, in-depth interview which examines actual shopping behavior instead of behavior that is recalled and reported after the event is over. Topic areas for discussion may be based on: The product: packaging, shelving, displays, branding, pricing and labeling) to the Best Buy sample fitness departments and also an extra retailer within each area to get assorted data points.

USA Swimming

USA Swimming, a National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States headquartered in Colorado, wanted to understand the perceived benefits and challenges, from the parents’ point-of-view, of a child’s participation in organized swimming programs.

The researcher conducted poolside intercept interviews with parents of recreational and club swimmers. These short interviews took place when children were either working on their strokes or splashing around in the pool as part of a prearranged swim practice.

The researcher discussed with the parents on the overall experience of being a “swim parent” together with how that experience is in evaluation to other sports their children have tried or may be vigorously participating in concomitantly with swimming. Prominently, the researcher explored how the parents’ perceptions of swim team were inveterated once their children began keenly participating in swimming and the benefits of joining a team meant for swimming. With the children’s the researcher discussed their perceptions about organized swimming: who participates, perceived time commitment, benefits for children, availability in local areas, and comparison of swimming to other organized sport options.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

It is recommended that an ethnographic methodology of data collection may be beneficial in the early stages of a user-centered project that deals with an intricate design challenge. This is because ethnographic research methods allow a principally profound understanding of a design problems, audience(s), field, processes, context(s) and goals of use. The above mentioned ethnographic methods are useful in exploring and discovering issues which are not known to the common man.

The other crucial decision within an ethnographic study is the selection of ethnographic researcher. Because the individual will design the data collection procedure, collects the data and also does analysis of the study’s findings, therefore it is important that they have the experience and skill to ensure the study is representative of the population and precise.

CRITICAL QUESTIONS

  1. What are the pros and cons of ethnographic study?
  2. Answer: The following are the benefits of ethnography:

    • Ethnography is Persistent and Engaged: ethnographic study normally involves prolonged fieldwork in which the researcher gains entrée to a social group and carries out intensive observation in natural settings for a period of months or years. To understand what those participants under study are doing and saying.
    • Ethnography is Minute and Holistic: ethnographers often move toward broad interpretations and abstract analyses from the study of daily actions and routines. To make sure that the generalizations made are culturally suitable, they must be grounded in gathering of the specifics of everyday life and the participants’ reflections of them. However only describing what is seen and heard is not enough. To assign meaning to observations of specific activities and behaviors, one must engage in a process of interpretation that is called thick description.
    • Ethnography is Flexible and Self-corrective: unlike experimental and quasi-experimental research where the procedures are strictly controlled, ethnography study is dialectical or feedback method in which the ethnographer has the options of changing the questions during the course of enquiry.
    • It Builds Relationship by Immersing the Project Team in Participants’ Lives: while carrying out ethnographic research the researcher gets immersed in the lives of the participants, this helps them to maintain very good relationship with the participants.
    • Provides Rich Source of Visual Data: ethnographic research provides very rich source of visual data, which helps in carrying out the research very efficiently.
    • It Captures Behavior (Emotional Behavior) in the Different Contexts of Everyday Life: the ethnographer captures the emotional behavior which is the mental state of the participant that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by psychological changes.
    • It places a human face on data through real-life stories that teams can relate to and remember.
    • It helps to identify discrepancies between what people say they do and what they actually do.
  3. What are the Issues in an ethnographic research?
  4. Answer: Following are the issues of ethnography:

    • It helps to identify discrepancies between what people say they do and what they actually do.
    • It is time consuming and requires a well-trained researcher.
    • It takes time to build trust with informants in order to facilitate full and honest discourse.
    • Not useful for short term studies.
    • Bias on the part of the researcher can affect both the design of the study and the collection and interpretation of data.
    • Too little data may lead to false assumptions about behavior patterns, while large quantities of data may not be processed effectively.
  5. List the various risks relating to ethnography
  6. Answer: Following are the various risks relating to ethnography:

    • Researcher: Ethnographic researchers need to be very highly-skilled in order to overcome all the potential pitfalls of an ethnographic study. Some of these include the detail & completeness of observations, as well as potential bias (and mistakes) in data collection or analysis.
    • Subjects: It is important that in any studies’ subjects are as a true representation of the population as possible. It is also important that the participants are honest with the researcher. Of course, both of these issues are related to the quality of the researcher themselves and their role in the study’s design.
  7. How can the researchers check for quality in ethnographic study?
  8. Answer: Following are the ways in which the researchers may check for quality in ethnographic study:

    • Responsiveness: Responsiveness refers to the degree to which the researcher’s presence influences the behaviors of others since they know they are being observed. This may lead to participants to act differently. The effect of responsiveness can be reduced if the researcher is inconspicuous and familiarizes himself with the lives of others before he starts the fieldwork.
    • Reliability: Reliability refers to consistency and credibility. Data are internally consistent when the researcher records behaviors that are consistent over time and in different social contexts. If the researcher cross-checks the data collected by verifying with other sources then internal consistency can be achieved. Since ethnographic researchers depend on what others opinion the credibility of the source of information received needs to be assessed. The information shared by others could be in the forms of omissions, propaganda, evasions, and dishonest (Neuman, 2002). Reliability in field research will depend on the researcher’s knowledge, awareness, questions put forth to the participants and also observing the behaviors and events from diverse perspectives and angles.
    • Validity: Validity refers to the confidence placed in the researcher’s ability to collect and analyze data precisely, representing the lives or culture under study (Neuman, 2002). Ecological validity considers the degree to which the data collected and explained by the researcher reflects the world of those under study (Neuman, 2002). Natural history is a full description and disclosure of the researcher’s events, justifications, and procedures for others to evaluate. Natural history is achieved if it is credible to others inside and outside the field site. The researcher can also conduct member checks for validating the results by showing the results to those under study to judge for adequacy and accuracy from their perspectives (Neuman, 2002). In addition, the researcher should perform well in the group and interact with all the members of the group. Finally, nomological validity can be achieved if the study results and conclusions have relevance beyond the study itself (Angrosino, 2007).

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GradesFixer. (2018, November, 19) Ethnomusicology and Music Education. Retrived October 16, 2019, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/ethnomusicology-and-music-education/
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