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Volume 2, Issue 1 – June 2020

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From the Editor
Jennifer S. Walter, Editor

In 2013, I had the opportunity to visit the University of Exeter in Great Britain and attend the International Research in Music Education Conference (RIME). At that time, I thought RIME was perhaps the best conference I had ever attended! This was due both to the welcoming nature of the wonderful organizers and attendees, and also to the many qualitative research studies being presented at that conference. RIME 2013 was one of my first exposures to qualitative research presentations in a conference setting. It was simply amazing! What fascinated me most was the stories of human beings and their interactions and experiences with music. Although this was clearly research, the stories were so engaging because the research was so intimate, and I found it fascinating. When I came home from Exeter, I tucked those experiences away and, every now and again, would revisit those memories. As I continued to teach, write, read journals, and attend conferences, I wondered what role I might play in contributing to a deeper conversation about human beings and music-making.

Fast forward to 2015 when I was working with a doctoral student, Mark Dillon, and we began to discuss the kernel of an idea – a qualitative research journal for the music education profession. We were discussing this as part of a larger conversation about the difficulty qualitative researchers have had in getting their work published. Although we have certainly seen a distinct rise in the number of journals publishing qualitative research (this is awesome!), Mark and I both felt that a journal dedicated to qualitative research in music would illuminate this very important and often-overlooked avenue of inquiry. At one point in this ongoing discussion, Mark sent me an email containing web addresses to articles about starting an online journal. Needless to say, that email sat in my Inbox for about two years before I had the courage to act on it.

Finally, in Fall 2017, I was ready to pursue this idea with Mark’s blessing (he finished his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Spring 2018 and I had the privilege to be his Doctoral Advisory Committee Chair). When I look back on my notes from this time period – August 2017-December 2018 – I can easily see keywords that illustrate my core values for Qualitative Research in Music Education (QRME): rigorous, innovative, indicative of the human experience with music, interesting. Thus, the mission of QRME is to disseminate innovative qualitative research pertaining to music education. QRME publishes articles that carefully examine the human experience in music through qualitative methodologies that embody rigor and depth.

As I began to explore what hosting an online journal entailed, I wrote these notes to Daniel Rice (QRME’s extraordinary webmaster) related to my chosen image for QRME:

QRME banner

I love this image because this is how I perceive qualitative research in the vast scheme of music education research (MER). MER is mostly quantitative in nature and only in the last decade or so has qualitative research become more common/popular. I perceive the blue lines on this image as representing quantitative research – the bigger picture that gives us more generalizable ideas about music, learning, teaching, etc. Also, the blue lines represent the connection of ideas and knowledge to other information and pathways.

The white points of light represent qualitative research to me, where we are able to “drill down” into a topic with individuals and small groups and see how that topic relates to many others, sending us off in new directions (for investigation and corroboration) on the blue lines.

And in this, the debut publication of QRME, I feel even more strongly about this image. Qualitative research grabs your attention because it is thought-provoking and exciting, and often impossibly messy. Human beings are complex and multifaceted, and when investigating music and human beings in qualitative research, the intensity, power, and greatness of the research increases exponentially.

I pursued a career in music because music (and eventually teaching) fed my soul in ways nothing else could. To be able to contribute to the exploration of human beings and their interactions and experiences with music is one of the biggest professional accomplishments of my life. I hope you enjoy Qualitative Research in Music Education.


Jennifer S. Walter, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

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Imagining Possible Futures/Shaping Professional Visions: A Reflective Case Study of a Community-Centric, Ukulele-Based Participatory Musicking Project
Jesse Rathgeber1, Jennifer M. Hoye2, Charles Joseph McNure1, David A. Stringham1


The purpose of this reflective case study was to analyze preservice music educators’ reflections on meanings of facilitating JMUke, a curricular, community-centric, participatory- based, community ukulele project, and interpret how these experiences may have impacted their professional visions. We—one undergraduate music education student, one graduate music education student, and two music teacher educators—analyzed data from 38 preservice music educators, including coursework and reflective dialogues among participants. Analysis revealed themes related to: (a) preparation and adaptation, (b) motivation and fun, and (c) expanding praxis. Drawing on Hammerness’s (2003, 2006, 2015) conception of professional vision, we interpreted impacts of participation in JMUke on preservice music educators’ professional visions and offer implications for music teacher educators.


Keywords: Music teacher education, professional vision, reflective case study, participatory musicking.

1 James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
2 Rockingham County Public Schools

Corresponding Author:
Jesse Rathgeber, James Madison University School of Music, Burress Hall 213, MSC 7301, 880 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, USA
Email: rathgejc@jmu.edu

© Qualitative Research in Music Education 2019 qrme.uncg.edu

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Nothing without Joy”: A High School Chorus Teacher’s Use of Aphorisms to Create Identity, Told in Sonata Form
Joseph Michael Abramo1 and Douglas Michael Coates2


In this narrative, Joe, a teacher educator, and Doug, a musician and choral teacher, tell a story of Doug’s teaching in a sonata-inspired form. Doug transformed a choral program with dwindling numbers and student apathy into a thriving program. To accomplish this, he uses aphorisms—both spoken and written on the walls of his classroom—to construct identities for himself and his students. These aphorisms become signifiers of important experiences in his life and serve as a way to construct the semblance of his identity and project his ideals for students. Using analytical philosophies of language, and poststructuralist theories of performativity, Joe and Doug note how Doug employs locution, illocution, and perlocution in these aphorisms to construct his identity and create a safe space for students. Uses of these aphorisms, then, become performative acts, which might describe the construction of music teacher identity and the education process. In the “coda” we further develop these themes by exploring implications for music teaching.

Keywords: teacher identity, sonata form, narrative, speech acts, performativity

1 University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
2 North Salem Central School District, North Salem, New York, USA

Corresponding Author:
Joseph Michael Abramo, Assistant Professor of Music Education, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, 249 Glenbrook Road, Unit 3033, Storrs, Connecticut 06269
Email: joseph.abramo@uconn.edu

© Qualitative Research in Music Education 2019 qrme.uncg.edu

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Unity Through Transformation: Community Building With At-Risk Students Through Participation in a Ghanaian Music Ensemble
Dorothy Hause1


There have been many conversations surrounding the term at-risk in educational settings and how to address the growing concern over these students (Cuban, 1989; Wan, 2008; Ward- Steinman, 2006). The term at-risk was originally intended to describe poor and minority youth who were “at risk of emerging from school underprepared for further education or the kinds of jobs available” (Barr & Parrett, 2001, p. 14). However, due to recent economic and social changes this targeted group has been expanded from at-risk to deprived, and later disadvantaged, which describes students “as the disengaged or disconnected youth of the United States” (Barr & Parrett, 2001, p. 2). Other similar labels have included marginalized, lowachievers, culturally deprived or impoverished (Baptiste, 1992), and inferior (Dance, 2002). Any label has its limitations, and may be accused of stigmatizing students (Benedict, 2006; Cuban, 1989; Emmanuel, 2006; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Waxman, 1992).

Evidence exists that arts programs were beneficial to at-risk learners, but, according to Taylor et al. (1997), “At this time the majority of intervention programs for at-risk students have been conducted in other disciplines” (p. 13). The authors also advocate that further research be done in this area in effort to prove these benefits. The lack of literature specific to African- American learners’ needs may be due to the failure to recognize them as a distinct cultural group, not simply a different race (Ladson-Billings, 1994).

Music educators have designed experiences for students considered to be at-risk and have recorded success with their participants (Andreassen, 2013; Byrt, 2011; Neill, 2004; Schmid, 1998; Serba, 2010; Taylor, J., Barry, N., & Walls, K., 1997). However, these case studies mainly focused on individuals who were older students, and experiences were often conveyed from a teacher’s perspective. Results reported quantitative data without any qualitative analysis to support their findings. Other research into the effects of music on the self-esteem of disadvantaged students includes the work of Darrow (1991, 2005); Hietolahti & Kalliopuska (1990); Kennedy (1998); Kivlan (1986); Legette (1993); and Schuler (1991, 1992). My learner- centered approach in the current study honors learners’ perspectives and prior experience, for I firmly believe this approach engages learners to their maximum potential. Through a qualitative lens, this study attempts to illuminate the need for music educators to take an active role in advocating for youth, deemed at-risk of educational failure.

1 Fraser, Michigan, USA

Corresponding Author:
Dorothy Hause, 17211 Anita Avenue, Fraser, MI 48026, USA.
Email: dorothyhause@gmail.com

© Qualitative Research in Music Education 2019 qrme.uncg.edu

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