This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2016a) for the previous blog.
Year 2016: Beginnings Part 1c
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring” [Bowie 2016].
As I continued on my Project 1 Doctoral Pilot Study, I took the next step to explore my Research Methods.
As a practice-led, auto-ethnographic study of my DIY music-making practice, drawing on the methodologies of reflective and reflexive practice, this project will involve the collection of multiple forms of data in various textural forms. One of the project’s objectives is to undertake a qualitative study within the creative arts field, revealing the opportunities and challenges that lie with such a dual primary role approach: how a creative person can be both the subject and researcher, and the implications of this on the practice during the production of a cultural artefact (Page 2015a).
My next considered step was to provide some order to my project, particularly the creative aspect, and consider how I was going to substantively collect the bulk of the required data from my research project – that of critical reflective practice. I returned to my Project Brief, and noted some of the methods I had considered would be beneficial to record data for both critical reflective and reflexive practice (see figure I below).
Figure I – Data collection methods (Page 2015b)
These were: iCalendar, i-Notes, excel documents, word and text documents, and a blog. I set about creating a workflow using these mediums (iCalendar, i-Notes, excel documents, word and text documents) to use to record as much of my daily progress as possible. These mediums included utilizing the previous constructed Creative and Music Production Checklist and journal for noting down comments and observations and reflections.
Part A iCalendar and iNotes
Figure II – iCal (Page 2016a)
I have found that I have relied on iCalendar (see figure II above) and i-Notes to maintain a record of what and when I was doing music-making practice, and recording data. Despite assuming I would use the excel charts and journal documents primarily, I have found that I have used i-Notes as the primary data collection medium, given the accessibility of this on numerous portable electronic devices (MacBookPro, iPhone, and iMac), its syncing functionality, and the ability to copy and paste the content into other formats such word, excel, powerpoint and text documents. I have found such a medium can be very spontaneous, but as a result, the language and tone is mostly lay.
Figure III – iNotes (Page 2016b)
Part B Data Management system
As a higher education research study I need to be able to provide evidence of robust investigation; of my proactivity and application over the course of the Projects, demonstrating my engagement in this research practice to all key stakeholders. Part of my research study is to provide deliverables. Whilst this to be a five (5) track EP of original compositions, I also need to gather all forms of data created or gathered in the process of engaging in the above process over the course of the Projects.
Mediums planned to be used to gather data from this Project 1 process are: paper/pen, notebook, post-it notes, journals, i-Notes, text, word, excel, mindmaps, sketches, drawings, photos, audio memos, calendar entries, meeting notes, social media chats (eg: FB group, slack channel, msn, or skype chats, etc), blogs, industry forums (eg: Gear Slutz threads), curating and social engagement sites (Pinterest, You-tube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, WordPress, Tumblr, Instagram, etc)
I also developed a folder structure and numerous excel, word and text documents to create a electronic structure of support for my Project 1. Creating the folder structure helped me greatly to develop – to conceive and illuminate the elements and considerations I could us in my approach to my Project 1, and develop documents that I could use to gather data in co-existence with my music-making practice workflow. The development of these documents has been ongoing, with the development of documents considered to be in harmony with my practice workflow, to gather any form of data surrounding my music-making practice. These included: the development of my Project idea, group meeting minutes, discussion re gaps in my human resource portfolios, advertising for assistance where needed, Supervisor and Associate Supervisor meeting minutes, observation reports re live and virtual listening sessions, critical listening observations of other’s cultural productions, blogs re musical styles, discussion re reference tracks, examples of reference tracks, blogs of reference track critical, analytical, social and cultural analysis, scoping documents, project brief, pre-production plan brief, extensive pre-production plan (with live room stage setup, equipment required, variety of micing positions and technique options, input lists), DAW session (PTs, LP, Ableton) with scratch tracks/compositional ideas/experimentation with samples or tracking, blogs re session reflections, evidence of research (pdfs, websites, industry texts, academic texts), blogs reflecting on my research, and gaps in my knowledge or skillset (personal/soft skills, technical/physical or virtual, application/physical or virtual), evidence of my being proactive in exploring these gaps, and increasing my knowledge and skillset around these gaps, blogs reflecting on my experimentation and developing my practice, song or compositional development drafts, DAW session (PTs, LP, Ableton) with demo tracks, extensive post-production plan (with location and technology likely to be used – photos or console channel strip templates or DAW screenshots of likely processing methods, types, manufacturer models), blogs reflecting on my engagement as a creative media practitioner with society (peers, industry, mentors, public), blogs reflecting on my self as a practitioner as to what I have discovered or learnt about my self.
Part C Blog site
A number of practitioners have written about the importance of using journal writing to enhance reflective practice (Boud 2001, 9; Blom et al 2011; Pace 2012). Ghaye and Lillyman referred to the act of scribing the gathered data – the reflections – as advancing the reflective process “from talking about (it), to evidencing reflection” (2014, 26). I decided to use blogs as a means of formally hosting the recorded data of my thoughts, opinions and observations, as I progressed on my research pilot study, across the various music-making practice stages. I decided this strategy would be an effective step in crystallising my thoughts regarding this recorded data, as I progressed through my multiple-stage draft writing process. The practice and process of writing has always enabled me to better articulate my thoughts. This multiple draft writing process would include the following steps:
generating ideas – often commencing from written notes made in iCal, in i-Notes, or notes taken manually on paper (usually for me, in the form of a mind map);
expanding on these ideas, most often developed in a mind map form;
deciding on the intended narrative as an aim and objective of the written outcome;
ordering the generated and expanded ideas into what appears to be a logical structure, at that point in the process;
returning to develop the central ideas as required;
copying the work to date into a more standard medium, be it a text document, or a word document;
embellishing these ideas into a structured narrative (inclusive of non-fiction- based content, self-reflective content or fictionalised content); and then
better articulating my intended narrative, in terms of grammar and expression;
continuing to write, hone, craft the written text, until it demonstrates the attributes of re-writing:
– continuity and coherence, and
– the content has realised both:
personal self-satisfaction in terms of what has been expressed within the intended narrative
content integrity of the narrative relative to the original aim and objective of the intended narrative.
Knowing the blog would be published for all to read was now going to be an additional motive to ensure my blogged reflective journals were well crafted, articulating my reflections succinctly and authentically. Writing has supported me in my many forms of practice over much of my life as the vast stock of written material in my filing cabinets in my project studio office demonstrates. However, the practice of writing for me had predominantly been a very private process. A practice where I could express my self in the privacy of me, and only me, as the audience. However, I now have a more developed understanding that a key characteristic of robust reflective practice is that the data collected from my reflective practice, is the sharing of this data, with others: progressing “from I to us” (Ghaye and Lillyman 2014, 24). Whilst this next step brought up immense fears and insecurities of self – actually bringing forth a level of heightened anxiety within my private self that took me back to my earliest memories of my first social encounters – I knew it was an essential step for my development of practice.
A second benefit of using blogs as a medium to host my recorded data – the narrative of my research journey – was the recognition that the writing of blogs could represent a progressive step to develop and hone a more formal language and tone. This would enable me time to practice a more intermediary writing technique, prior to embarking on a more advanced analytical writing style in order to meet my academic compliance. I accepted a by-product of me embracing the formal academic world of research would also include my need to develop my practice of writing that would be scrutinised by my academic peers, in the public arena: “from independence to inter-dependence of practice ” (Ghaye and Lillyman 2014, 27).
As I have developed a social media network over the past several years, I re-examined my blog site through tumblr. It had frustrated me over the past year that tumblr had not provided me the flexibility that I had envisioned of a fully interactive blog site. Across January I sought peer opinion as to recommended sites, with the view of engaging someone to construct a suitable site on my behalf. Due to several obstacles (mainly lack of immediate availability of valued assistance), I embarked on researching and constructing a site myself, and decided upon a wordpress site (see figure IV below).
Figure IV – DLP WordPress site (Page 2016c)
After some initial learning challenges, I have found this site is easily managed by myself – creating and editing blogs – allowing me to easily integrate this new communication medium into my already developed social media network.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Pilot Study – Part 1d (Page 2016d). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Blom, Diana, Dawn Bennett and David Wright. 2011. “How artists working in academia view artistic practice as research: Implications for tertiary music education.” International Journal of Music Education: 0255761411421088.
Boud, David. 2001. “Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice.” New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 2001 (90): 9-18. doi: 10.1002/ace.16.