Dissertations are funny things. They are written as a rite of passage and assembled into a form that very few people ever read. They look impressive formally bound, yet are most often relegated to the dusty shelves rarely to be read. In writing my dissertation back in 2006, I hoped that I might write it in a way that would be accessible to music teachers. And, though I’ve published articles based on my dissertation, only a handful of people have probably read parts of it, let alone made it through the whole thing.
Now in 2013, it’s been collecting dust for far too long. In the spirit of sharing and raising awareness of the issues raised within it, I’m embarking on a project where I will serialize my dissertation into blog-sized chunks, updating it where necessary, and providing hyperlinks to materials cited when I can. It is a document “of a time” and many related research studies have been completed since it was written. However, I think many of the issues presented are still relevant today, even as “music technology labs” are losing their currency, in response to more recent developments in mobile and cloud-based music education.
I invite you to follow along and to add your comments along the way. I envision this section of my blog as an ongoing site for discussion and interaction. While many of the issues investigated and raised in my dissertation are local to the classroom in which I was embedded, I hope that you will find points of resonance and dissonance related to your own practice and share your thoughts.
My study was one of the first to take a look at the lived experiences of a teacher and her students as they used technology in the context of an actual, middle school music classroom. I embedded myself as a participant observer in a 6th grade general music class throughout an entire 43 class semester. This class was taught in the physical context of a music technology lab and my account sought to highlight both the successes and challenges that emerged within that class from the perspectives of the teacher, students, and myself as researcher.
If you’d like to skip ahead, download, and read the whole thing, you can do so here. Otherwise, sit back and be on the look out for the regular updates. Please share your thoughts in the comments as you see fit. I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes.