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date: 26 February 2021


Abstract and Keywords

This introduction begins by locating qualitative research in music education within the larger field of qualitative research in social sciences and humanities research, within qualitative research in education, and within music education research in general. The middle section then explains the scope and organization of this Handbook and examines challenges for authors within each of the five parts of the book. The introduction connects these Handbook chapters to key characteristics of music education qualitative research and assist readers with developing criteria for evaluating qualitative research. The chapter then considers what is potentially missing from the Handbook and concludes with acknowledgment of those who assisted with publications in a variety of ways.

Keywords: Qualitative research, characteristics of qualitative research, evaluating qualitative research, Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education

Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Music education researchers who are looking to understand the “dim secrets that startle our wonder” look to qualitative research. The Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education is a resource for music education researchers, music education graduate students, and P–16 music teachers. Qualitative research has become an increasingly popular research approach in music education in the last 20 years and until now there has been no source that clarifies terms, challenges, and issues in qualitative research for music education. This Handbook provides that clarification and presents model qualitative studies within the various music education disciplines. I begin this Introduction by locating qualitative research in music education within the larger field of qualitative research in social sciences and humanities research, within qualitative research in education, and within music education research in general.

The middle section of this Introduction explains the scope and organization of this Handbook and examines challenges for authors within each of the five parts of the book. I connect these Handbook chapters to key characteristics of music education qualitative research and assist readers with developing criteria for evaluating qualitative research. I then consider what is potentially missing from the Handbook and conclude with a discussion of author expertise.

(p. 2) 1.1 Locating Music Education Qualitative Research

At the macro level, music education research is situated within the larger body of qualitative research in social science and humanities research. Denzin and Lincoln (2011a) suggest that:

Sometime during the last two decades, critical qualitative inquiry came of age, or more accurately, moved through another historical phase. Out of the qualitative-quantitative paradigm wars of the 1980s there appeared, seemingly overnight, journals, handbooks, textbooks, dissertation awards, annual distinguished lectures, and scholarly associations. All of these formations were dedicated to some form of qualitative inquiry. (ix)

In the summer of 2011 my colleague, Ann Marie Stanley from the Eastman School, and I attended the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference held annually in Cedarville, OH. This gathering attracts qualitative researchers from all over the world and from diverse backgrounds within social science and humanities research. The keynote speaker, Douglas Bilken from Syracuse University, talked about how it is now “routine” for qualitative researchers to “locate themselves through a sharing of their history in relation to the settings/contexts, issues, vocabularies, identities, and other factors associated with their topic of inquiry” (Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference Program, 3). This Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education will help music education researchers locate ourselves as a music education community within this larger community of researchers.

Denzin and Lincoln (2011a) also refer to the term “locating” and devote the first five chapters in their most recent Handbook of Qualitative Research to what they label “Locating the Field.” In addition to the editions of Denzin and Lincoln’s Handbook of Qualitative Research (1994, 2000, 2005, 2011a), Sage Publications also publishes Handbooks of Grounded Theory, Ethnography, Interviewing, Narrative Inquiry, Performance Studies, Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, and many other texts on qualitative research aimed at assisting readers in locating the field. The Sage qualitative texts by Patton (2002), Creswell (2007), and Maxwell (2005) are commonly cited within music education research and are located within this larger field of social science and humanities research. Key journals that may be of interest to music education researchers within this larger body of social science and humanities research include: Journal of Contemporary Ethnography; Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research; The International Review of Qualitative Research; and Qualitative Inquiry.

(p. 3) 1.1.1 Qualitative Research within Education

One of the strongest opportunities for music education researchers to locate ourselves within the field of educational research has been through the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Since the mid-1990s, the music education special interest group (SIG) has been a welcome place for researchers to, as Biklin suggested, “locate” ourselves through a sharing of our history in relation to the settings/contexts, issues, vocabularies, identities, and other factors associated with our topic of inquiry. Although Music SIG meetings have been largely attended by those within music education and the arts, music education researchers have been involved in many other AERA SIGs and Divisions, several of which are devoted specifically to qualitative research. Qualitative SIGs and mostly qualitative SIGs within AERA include: action research, arts-based educational research, lives of teachers, narrative inquiry, qualitative research, self-study of teacher education, and teacher as researcher. Many of the authors in this Handbook have held leadership roles within these various organizations of AERA.

Handbook authors Bresler (chapters 2 and 32) and Roulston (chapter 14) are themselves situated in colleges of education and have published widely in general education books and journals, as have other Handbook authors. As will be discussed in chapter 3, early music education qualitative researchers were introduced to qualitative research through their work in colleges of education. Music education qualitative research begins appearing in our journals later than the early work of qualitative researchers in general education.

Research texts and resources for qualitative research in education are numerous. Some of these sources seem to be regularly cited in music education research, including:

Bogden and Biklin (2006); Denzin and Lincoln (2011); Eisner and Peshkin (1990); Merriam (1998 and 2009); Seidman (1990, 1997, 2006); and Stake (1995, 2010). Music education researchers should also be aware of the following qualitative journals in general education: Qualitative Studies in Education and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

1.1.2 Qualitative Research within Music Education

Koji Matsunobu and Liora Bresler’s chapter in this Handbook, chapter 2, examines qualitative research within music education and suggests: “The past twenty years have been a coming of age for qualitative research in music education. From a marginal, pariah methodology, qualitative research has become a legitimate, central methodology, with its own conferences, research journals, and venues.” With regard to music education conferences, it seems as if we are now at the point where qualitative research can be found at all types of music education conferences. Whether within the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), AERA, or smaller conferences such as the University of South Florida’s Suncoast Symposium or Michigan State University’s New (p. 4) Directions in Music Education, conference presentations in music education now regularly include reports of qualitative research.

In chapter 3 of this volume, Chad West and I examine and report on the number of qualitative research studies published within the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, and the Journal of Music Teacher Education. Although the number of qualitative publications is not nearly equal to the number of quantitative publications in music education, qualitative researchers clearly have a strong and growing presence in these journals.

Chapter 3 includes a report on the University of Illinois qualitative research conferences held in the early 1990s. In more recent years, the Narrative Inquiry in Music Education (NIME) venue has been well attended by qualitative researchers and has led to important music education qualitative research publications (Barrett and Stauffer 2009, 2011). Additional qualitative sources within music education are examined in chapter 3 and include: Bresler and Stake (1992); Bresler (1995); and Flinders and Richardson (2002).

1.2 Scope and Organization of Handbook and Inherent Challenges for Authors

The challenge for any Handbook editor is often to define the scope of the volume. Authors for this text were instructed to focus their chapters on qualitative research in American music education. The decision to be exclusive to studies conducted in North America (Canada and the United States) was made to help focus and contain the volume. Many authors struggled with this restriction, as there is a rich tradition of qualitative research within international contexts. Another delimitation aimed at focusing the scope of this book was that authors include only qualitative studies that appear in published journals or as dissertations, not conference presentations or unpublished manuscripts.

The book is divided into five parts and contains 33 chapters. Part I (Defining Qualitative Research in Music Education) includes five chapters that together describe the history, epistemological views, theoretical frameworks, and rigor within music education qualitative research. One of the biggest challenges for authors in this section was to capture the “moving target” that represents qualitative research. Understandings about research and terminology for qualitative research have changed much in the past two decades such that it was challenging for authors to settle on specific recommendations.

The first five chapters in the second part of the text (Variety in Qualitative Approaches in Music Education) provide a description and music education examples of the following approaches: case study (chapter 7); ethnography (chapter 8); phenomenology (chapter 9); narrative inquiry (chapter 10); and practitioner inquiry (chapter 11). The final chapter in part II of the Handbook, chapter 12, addresses the use of qualitative (p. 5) research within mixed methods approaches. This chapter also presented challenges since true “mixed methods” designs are so new in music education. I expect that readers will find the chapter useful as music education continues to consider new designs and terminology for mixed methods research.

As was the case for part I authors, all of the authors in part II struggled with the diverse uses of terminology in relation to their approach. Part II authors were appropriately cautious in describing what a particular approach “is” or “is not,” since these design constructs are still emerging and many researchers blend approaches and designs.

The chapters in the third part of the Handbook (Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis in Music Education) describe data collection and analysis techniques as well as provide examples of studies in music education that have utilized these techniques including: observation (chapter 13); individual interviews (chapter 14); focus group interviews (chapter 15); journals, multimodal and multimedia data (chapter 16); and music-making as data (chapter 17). Chapter 18 addresses the use of software in qualitative data collection and analysis. It was challenging for part III authors to situate music teaching and learning at the center of the conversation, as the techniques used for qualitative research in general education and music education more specifically are closely aligned. Authors in part III did not attempt to provide a comprehensive collection of all music education qualitative researchers who used these techniques in their studies, but, rather, have selected exemplars for readers to consider.

Authors in the fourth part of the book (Qualitative Research within Selected Areas of Music Education) examine the use of qualitative research in answering important research questions regarding music teaching and learning in a variety of diverse music education contexts. Each author examines key studies and provides suggestions for future questions that qualitative researchers may consider. Contexts examined in the chapter include: early childhood music (chapter 19); general music (chapter 20); instrumental music-winds, brass percussion (chapter 21); instrumental music-strings (chapter 22); choral music (chapter 23); preservice teacher education (chapter 24); teacher professional development (chapter 25); community music education (chapter 26); music for students with special needs (chapter 27); music education and issues of diversity (chapter 28); and world music (chapter 29). Authors in part IV had the dual challenge of presenting what was important about qualitative research in their area as well as what the profession has learned about the topic (i.e., instrumental music) through qualitative research. This balance between how research was done and reporting on findings proved to be the key challenge for authors in part IV. In most cases authors also needed to define their field (i.e., early childhood or community music) as part of the work. I am proud of the ways in which these authors grappled with this challenge and believe what has resulted will be valuable for the field.

In the final section of the book (Ethics, Publishing, and the Future of Qualitative Research, chapter 30 examines ethics and qualitative research from the perspective of scholars within the University of Michigan’s Heath Sciences and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board. Issues associated with publishing and disseminating qualitative research are examined next, in chapter 31. This chapter also examines the review (p. 6) process and provides not only information about responding to reviewers, but also information about being a reviewer.

The future of qualitative research lies in preparing the next generation of scholars; thus, chapter 32 addresses the teaching of qualitative research. Experienced qualitative researcher Liora Bresler lets the reader “in” on her specific approach to the task of teaching about qualitative research, and her chapter includes a syllabus from her course as well as analysis of student work. In the final chapter, Janet Barrett from the University of Illinois assists readers in looking ahead to the future possibilities for qualitative research in music education.

1.3 Key Criteria for All Qualitative Researchers in Music Education

Although all the qualitative research studies cited in this Handbook differ with regard to topics and designs, there are consistent headings that appear in most qualitative studies including: research questions; past research and/or frameworks; approaches to design; sampling; data collection and analysis; and goodness criteria. This section of the Introduction examines some of these common aspects of qualitative studies.1 Some of these issues are examined in depth in other sections of the Handbook and these are noted throughout this section. This explanation of qualitative research presentation is meant to guide the reader in critiquing the original sources of studies shared throughout the Handbook.

1.3.1 Research Questions

All aspects of a study, including design, data collection, analysis, and presentation of findings, are guided by the research questions. Qualitative researchers have a responsibility to share their research questions and carefully describe how they guided data collection, analysis, and presentation of findings. Chapter 2 of this Handbook examines some of the specific issues that tend to lead researchers to what one might call “qualitative questions;” while chapter 4 reminds readers that epistemological assumptions are a part of the research process right from the development of initial questions. Chapter 5 considers how various theoretical frameworks may interact with the development of study questions. All of the chapters in part IV of the Handbook include discussions of types of research questions that have been examined in the various areas of music education. It is important to remember that research questions often emerge and change throughout the process of research, which I believe is one of the most exciting aspects of doing research in a qualitative way.

(p. 7) 1.3.2 Past Research, Conceptual Framework, Personal Framework, Theoretical Framework

Most researchers review past research literature and develop research questions based on that literature. However, in some qualitative studies researchers outline research questions before a search of past literature. In these types of studies literature is consulted after data have been collected so that knowledge of what past researchers have found in relation to a phenomenon does not hinder the researchers’ ability to see what is most meaningful in the data. This order of process is particularly common in teacher research, action research, and practitioner inquiry (see chapter 11).

Chapters 4 and 5 provide extended discussions of epistemology (chapter 4) and theoretical frameworks (chapter 5) and their interaction with the work of qualitative researchers. Although not all studies state specific frameworks, all research includes assumptions on the part of the researcher, and the researcher has a responsibility to address these assumptions in their work and share with readers how these assumptions influenced the design, implementation, and analysis in the study.

1.3.3 Approaches to Design

In the History of Qualitative Research chapter (chapter 3), Chad West and I document that early qualitative researchers rarely discussed the type of qualitative research but often referred to their work as simply qualitative. In recent years within music education it has been more typical to state a design. Specific designs for qualitative research are addressed directly in part II of this Handbook, as well as within the synthesis sections of the studies reviewed in part IV.

Matsunobu and Bresler (chapter 1) discuss the non-linear nature of design decisions:

Qualitative researchers normally do not bring a fixed research design to fieldwork because they need to respond to the constraints and possibilities of each field. Research strategies are often emergent and subject to change in the research process (Hammersley and Atkinson 2007; Patton 2002). For example, initial research questions—often generated from etic points of view in the abstract context of scholarship rather than the realities of the settings—are refined over the course of research to make sense in the reality of each setting. Research is often guided by emergent questions. Some predetermined, a-priori categories for data analysis and codes may be kept, while others will be generated in the process of data analysis. Similarly, literature review needs to respond to emerging issues (Eisenhart 1998). The researcher goes back and forth between theoretical and empirical data to refine understandings and interpretations. Because of this emergent process of qualitative research, methodological explanation is often provided in retrospect

(Barone 2001; Vidich and Lyman 2003).

This concept of retrospective design decision-making is one of the most exciting aspects of doing qualitative research. Collecting data and reflecting on its meaning and then (p. 8) making decisions about what is actually being examined as a chaotic and non-linear process is a key component of good qualitative research.

As suggested above, part II (chapters 712) authors examine various approaches for research that have been utilized in music education. However, Merriam (2009) suggests that some qualitative researchers do not choose a particular approach and instead complete what she terms a “basic qualitative research study” (22):

A challenge to those new to qualitative research is trying to figure out what “kind” of qualitative research study they are doing and what their “theoretical framework” is.…In my experience, in applied fields of practice such as education, administration, health, social work, counseling, business, and so on, the most common “type” of qualitative research is a basic, interpretive study. One does a qualitative research study, not a phenomenological, grounded theory, narrative analysis, or critical or ethnographic study. Over the years I have struggled with how to label such a study, using words such as generic, basic, and interpretive. Since all qualitative research is interpretive, I have come around to preferring labeling this type of study as a basic qualitative study. (22)

I have been encouraging novice researchers to consider Merriam’s notion of basic qualitative research as well as considering blended options so that no researcher is boxed in by qualitative research designs that at the root are meant to help researchers examine issues that are difficult to examine, messy, and often unwieldy.

1.3.4 Sampling

Regardless of the approach to qualitative research, all qualitative researchers employ purposeful sampling. Purposeful sampling allows the researcher to intentionally select information-rich, illuminative participants for in-depth study. Acknowledging the difficulty and ambiguity in selecting a sample size, Patton (2002) states in bold: “there are no rules for sample size in qualitative inquiry” (244). He writes about the difficulty in deciding the issue of sample size, likening it to the problem of a student who pesters her instructor about exactly how many pages a term paper should be, when the teacher has already said it should be long enough to cover the subject, no more, no less. To help the researcher, Patton suggests that validity of qualitative research depends more on the richness of the participants studied and the observation and analysis of the researcher than on the size of the sample.

Patton (2002) provides a comprehensive discussion of 16 variations of purposeful sampling strategies used in qualitative research, including: extreme or deviant case, intensity, maximum variation, homogeneous, typical case, critical case, snowball or chain, criterion, theory-based sampling, confirming and disconfirming cases, stratified purposeful, opportunistic or emergent, purposeful random, sampling politically important cases, convenience, and combination or mixed purposeful sampling.

(p. 9) Common purposeful sampling strategies used in music education include: “typical case sampling” to “illustrate or highlight what is typical, normal, average” (243); “critical case sampling” which “permits logical generalization and maximum application of information to other cases because ‘if it’s true of this one case, it’s likely to be true of all other cases’” (243); and “extreme or deviant case sampling,” meaning “learning from unusual manifestations of the phenomenon intensely, but not extremely, for example, outstanding successes/notable failures” (243). Regardless of the sampling strategy used, researchers have a responsibility to justify why particular participants were chosen and how the reader should consider them in relation to others. Handbook authors in part IV often address issues of sampling in relation to the studies being presented. The ethics chapter (chapter 30) also discusses issues of sampling in qualitative research.

1.3.5 Data Collection and Analysis

As mentioned earlier, decisions about the types of data to be gathered are guided by the research questions for a study. As presented in part III of the Handbook, music education qualitative researchers use a variety of strategies to collect information relevant to their research questions. The researcher has a responsibility to the reader to provide a thick description (Lincoln and Guba 1985) of data collection and analysis as well as findings.

Each of the qualitative traditions (e.g., narrative research) has a slightly different approach to analysis of data. Part II authors (chapters 712) address analysis in relation to design, while authors in part III (chapters 1317) address analysis in relation to the type of data (observation, interview, focus group, multimedia and multimodal, and music-making). However, there are some common traits in all qualitative analysis. Researchers begin analysis with a review of all data. They create transcripts for interviews and may enter transcripts and field notes into software if the analysis is to be supported with technology. The first step in most analysis procedures is to begin to code the data. During coding, the researcher typically identifies and tentatively names the conceptual categories into which the events observed will be grouped. The goal is to create descriptive categories that form a preliminary framework for analysis. Words, phrases, or events that appear to be similar can be grouped into the same category. These categories may be gradually modified or replaced during the subsequent stages of analysis that follow. Once the data has been coded, the researcher can begin to combine codes to create larger categories. Next, categories are reexamined to determine if and how they are linked, comparing and combining them in new ways in an effort to develop an integrated understanding.

The results of qualitative studies are usually represented as findings or themes from the data. There is no template for the reporting of qualitative data. The story-like nature of the types of data collected can lead to any number of formats for reporting. The goal of the researcher is to provide a report that will be rich in detail and authentic. While the process of analysis has been described as a linear one, the individual steps may occur simultaneously and repeatedly. During the analysis additional data may be collected if (p. 10) the researcher uncovers gaps in the data. In qualitative research the analysis and data collection are really commingled, with one serving as a guide to the other.

1.3.6 Goodness Criteria

In chapter 6 of this Handbook, Robinson suggests:

The establishment of criteria for quality in qualitative research in music education has existed as a thorny issue within our profession for many years. The range of opinions and beliefs concerning “goodness” criteria for qualitative research is vast, and encompasses multiple belief systems, paradigm orientations and research stances.

Robinson’s chapter provides an extended discussion of these issues. For the purpose of considering key criteria of qualitative research I touch on just a few of these issues in this Introduction.

Quantitative researchers use research design, statistical techniques, and replication to demonstrate that their findings can be applied to other settings, that is, generalized. The idea of generalization is wedded to the philosophical foundation—understanding phenomena on a macro level that supersedes context and human perception. Qualitative researchers carefully discuss their conceptual frameworks and their interactions with research participants in order for readers to have enough information to consider the possible transferability of findings to other contexts. According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), transferability is defined as the “similarity between two contexts” or the “fittingness” or congruence between two contexts (124). The researcher is responsible for providing a thick, rich description of the phenomena and the contextual variables to allow the reader to determine transferability of the findings. Schwartz (1996) uses the idea of logical situational generalizability (7). If the reader can logically assume that participants in another population are in a situation similar to the one described in the study, it may be possible that results from the study are relevant in other contexts.

All of the studies presented in the Handbook were chosen to represent some aspect of the qualitative research process. Not all studies included are exemplary models. But all studies presented in the Handbook report on at least some of the criteria outlined in this section.

1.4 Consideration of Issues Not Represented in the Handbook

The most difficult tasks for a Handbook editor include decisions about what to include in the Handbook and what must be left out due to space limitations or other restrictions. (p. 11) In this section I think critically about the decisions that were made with regard to inclusion and direct the reader in thinking about what might be missing.

In considering what might be missing or could have been considered for part I of the Handbook, it seems that a discussion of philosophical research or additional discussions of the use of philosophy in qualitative research might have been considered. Chapter 4, by Randall Allsup, offers the reader an introduction to epistemological issues with relation to qualitative research. However, philosophy is an area that might have received additional chapters.

An examination of research methods textbooks in education and music education reveals that some writers consider philosophical inquiry to be a separate research method (e.g., Phillips 2008) while others do not (e.g., Wiersma and Jurs 2005). Experienced scholars in music education take diverse positions on the issue. Heller and O’Connor (2002), for example, do not consider philosophy a research method, although they do consider philosophical discourse an important scholarly activity that is foundational in the research process (1090). Their definition of research focuses on knowledge acquisition supported by empirical evidence—that is, evidence that is observed through one of the senses—rather than systematic logic. In another chapter in the same volume, Elliott (2002) challenges that position, suggesting that Heller and O’Connor’s view is based on a particular ideology, empiricism, and represents a narrow perspective (89).

John Scheib was asked to author chapter 5, on theoretical frameworks, which specifically grapples with the definition of theoretical framework; it includes a discussion of those frameworks and specific theories that have been explored in music education. His chapter includes brief discussion of what he refers to as “methodological” frames, including phenomenology, interpretive interactionism, symbolic interactionism, and social constructionism. He also provides a comprehensive look at “theories” used in music education qualitative research including theories of gender, teacher development, and role stress, among others. Scheib highlights that there is considerable confusion within the music education research community regarding theoretical frameworks and their use.

Patton (2002) provides a list of what he considered the most common theoretical traditions, including: ethnography, autoethnography, reality testing (positivist and realist approaches), constructionism/constructivism, phenomenology, heuristic inquiry, ethnomethodology, symbolic interaction, semiotics, hermeneutics, narratology/narrative analysis, ecological psychology, systems theory, chaos theory (nonlinear dynamics), grounded theory, and orientational (feminist inquiry, critical theory, and queer theory, among others). Complete chapters could have been written about any one of these traditions. However, few of them have been used extensively in music education.

Decisions regarding designs presented in part II of the book (case study, narrative, phenomenology, ethnography, and practitioner inquiry) were made with regard to the common use of those approaches within music education. I had considered a chapter on the use of grounded theory. Although Creswell (2007) includes grounded theory as one of five specific approaches to qualitative research (his list includes case study, phenomenology, ethnography, narrative and grounded theory) my initial sense was that there (p. 12) were not enough studies in music education that used the term “grounded theory” as an approach or design. In attending the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research conference in 2011 that I mentioned above, we noticed that the term “grounded theory” appeared in the abstract or handout of almost every presenter, but not as a design as much as an analysis procedure or as an overall term describing a characteristic of qualitative research.

In chapter 2 of this Handbook Matsunobu and Bresler mention grounded theory briefly and state:

The idea of building a local or grounded theory is appealing to music education researchers, and grounded theory is sometimes noted as a main methodological tool in music education research. However, such research does not always utilize a theoretical sampling or gradual sampling method. Rather, the emphasis is placed upon category formation, reformation, and comparison as well as a constant shift between coding and analysis. Because of its positivist and post-positivist orientation (Denzin and Lincoln 2011a), grounded theory is most frequently utilized in such fields as nursing and medical studies. Emphasis on grounded theory in music education research is less frequent, partly because its theory building process with gradual sampling involves multiple cycles of case selection and takes longer than other types of case study.

Kathy Charmaz (2007)2 states:

Grounded theory is a method of qualitative inquiry in which data collection and analysis reciprocally inform and shape each other through an emergent and iterative process. The term “grounded theory” refers to this method and its product, a theory developed from successive conceptual analysis of data. Researchers may adopt grounded theory strategies while using a variety of data collection methods…It is often difficult, however, to discern the extent to which researchers have engaged grounded theory strategies. (360)

I feel as if these sources support the notion that grounded theory may be used as a method, but may also be regularly combined with other approaches. Very few researchers in music education have stated grounded theory as their approach. No music education scholars have written extensively on the topic when compared to the other authors in part II who have all published studies in music education using the approach they write about for the Handbook.

The Handbook is quite comprehensive with regards to ways in which music education researchers have collected and analyzed their data. The one technique that some might consider missing from part III devoted to data collection and analysis is that of discourse analysis (Gee 2005). I am aware of several music education researchers who have used this technique (Dobbs 2005, 2008; and Talbot 2010) but did not feel at the time of Handbook publications that there was enough work in music education in this area to create a chapter.

Decisions regarding inclusion of contexts for music education (part IV) centered around organizing the chapters so that there would not be too much overlap between (p. 13) topics but that all contexts that have been examined through a qualitative literature base would be addressed. I was initially concerned about overlap between early childhood music and general music but these two authors were able to negotiate clear divisions in their chapters. I had considered a separate chapter on composition and improvisation, but eventually decided to encourage authors to include studies in this area within their context (i.e., general music, band, choral, and strings). There was some potential overlap between community music education and the chapters on choral, band, and strings, but again authors worked well together to address this. Studies that address adult musical learning appear within the community music education chapter. The chapter on preservice teacher education includes studies up through undergraduate education and the inservice teacher professional development chapter then includes beginning teacher induction, graduate education, and teacher professional development.

In terms of what might be “missing” from part IV of the Handbook, the constructs of culturally relevant pedagogy and multiculturalism are not as well-represented in the Handbook as the literature base may suggest. There is a strong chapter on world music in the classroom as well as a strong chapter on diversity. Yiannis Miralis, author of the world music chapter, has written about the challenge of defining the terms associated with world music including: multicultural, multiethnic, and world music (Miralis 2002, 2006), and Bruce Carter, who authored the diversity chapter, addresses definitions as well. However, both chapters had space only to gesture to the concepts of culturally relevant pedagogy and multiculturalism. I was unable to secure an author to address these concepts more completely.

Finally, there are important issues in music education not addressed in the Handbook because qualitative researchers have not examined these areas. The most glaring example, to me, is in the area of music and arts education policy. In the epilogue of their most recent Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (4th Ed.), Lincoln and Denzin (2011b) suggest:

One of the many myths surrounding qualitative research is that policy formulation utilizing such research is either difficult or impossible (Lincoln, 2011). Frequently dismissed as “anecdotal” by its detractors, qualitative research has often turned inward, addressing its own community of believers, who choose their own, less global, more locally focused means to effects social change. (717)

They go on to suggest that there are emerging trends in meta-analysis of qualitative data that may assist researchers and they conclude by suggesting: “An exploration of these options, with a direct focus on their applicability for policy purposes, is the centerpiece of new and future efforts at addressing the cumulation issue” (717). Several researchers have published work in Arts Education Policy Review (AEPR) based on qualitative inquiries (Conway, Krueger, Robinson, Hacck, and Smith 2002; Edgar 2012; Robinson 2005; and West 2011). These researchers have had to adjust their style of writing to reflect policy analysis as well as reporting of research. With music programs around the country under intense scrutiny, it may be time for all researchers to turn their energies towards policy work.

(p. 14) It is important for readers to be aware that a new initiative from Oxford University Press will be providing commissions for Oxford Handbooks Online that will supplement material in Oxford Handbooks through online publication. So, chapters on topics like grounded theory, discourse analysis, culturally relevant pedagogy, and multiculturalism in music education may appear as the commissions for the new series if music educators continue to explore these topics to the extent that warrants similar treatment.

1.5 Author Expertise

There are 32 authors and co-authors (including me) who have contributed to this Handbook. All are experienced in their fields. With the exception of the authors from the University of Michigan’s Institutional Review Board, all of the other 30 authors have conducted and published qualitative research in music education and hold (or have held) faculty positions in music education. These 30 authors represent diverse backgrounds within music education, including early childhood, general music, instrumental music, and choral music. Seven of the authors are full professors (Barrett, Bresler, Conway, Krueger, Robbins, Stauffer, and Webster), while 12 are associate professors (Allsup, Barrett, Berg, Campbell, Hourigan, Kruse, Miralis, Reynolds, Robinson, Roulston, Scheib, Schmidt, and Thompson). Eleven authors are assistant professors (Carter, Edgar, Eros, Fitzpatrick, Hansen, Matsunobu, Pellegrino, Stanley, Sweet, Tobias, West). Although it may seem surprising that a substantial number of the Handbook authors are junior faculty, I believe this can be attributed to the relatively “young” nature of qualitative research in music education. The senior authors of the book represent the researchers who have been forging the path for qualitative research in the last 10–20 years, while the junior authors are the future of qualitative research in music education.

Authors in the book do their qualitative research in a variety of types of institutions and departments, including small and large public and private colleges, universities, and conservatories. Most are music education faculty, while Bresler and Roulston are in the College of Education. Hourigan, Krueger, and Scheib also hold posts within administration. Institutions represented include: Arizona State University, Ball State University, California State University at East Bay, Columbia University—Teachers College, Eastman School of Music, European University—Cyprus, Ithaca College, Michigan State University, Temple University, University of Colorado, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of North Texas at Denton, University of Puget Sound, University of Queensland, University of Southern California, University of Texas at San Antonio, West Virginia University. This variety of contexts for conducting qualitative research and the variety of lenses used to consider it provide strength to this volume.


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(1) . This section of the Introduction draws from Abeles and Conway (2010).

(2) . Charmaz is often referred to in the qualitative research scholarship as the author of “social constructivist grounded theory,” which differs from the older version put forth by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and Strauss and Corbin (1990, 1998).