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methodological choices of the researcher or researchers, at a given point in time, regardless of the research paradigm that was used for the study. Answering larger research ques- tions meaningfully requires researchers to examine them through a variety of lenses and in more than one context with more than one set of participants or subjects.


Rather, my goal is to help us understand the need for looking at problems through many lenses and preparing ourselves to be flexible, fluid researchers with the skills to work in either the qualitative or quantitative worlds. Perhaps a less ambitious goal is to encourage us at the very least not to be dismissive of work in the paradigms with which we are less familiar. No paradigm is without limitations, and all paradigms have strengths; the types and ramifications of the limitations and strengths, however, dif- fer. I believe that there is room for all types of researchers at the table.


Recognizing the Need for Multiples Lenses We, as music education students and teachers, need to be interested in the answers to all kinds of questions. For example, we need to know what kinds of instructional strategies work for most students, as that is a good starting place for us in making instructional decisions. As teachers, we make decisions every day that guide our instruction in group settings, and we need as much information as we can get to inform those decisions.


These kinds of questions -- what seems to work best for most students -- are answered best and most quickly through quantitative research. But, we also need to care about and attend to the needs of the students for whom those instructional decisions do not work and for whom the assumptions underpinning those decisions do not hold true, and quantitative researchers must be ready to acknowledge and be sensitive to the fact that there are some of those students in every classroom. We have the responsibility to meet the needs of all of our students to the greatest extent possible, and students in a single classroom differ radically from one to another. No study has “perfect” results or is without error, and those errors are a natural and acknowl- edged part of the quantitative research paradigm.


Quantitative research gives us a sense of what is true for most, and it even gives us a sense of how confident we should be about our conclusions, but, if we approach it honestly, it also reminds us that we should never be entirely confident of any conclusion, and we should not assume generalizability across all settings unless we have con- trolled successfully for every confounding variable, which almost never is the case. Consequently, it can provide us with information that is a good starting place as teachers, but that knowledge cannot be the ending place. Other-


wise we will be missing some of the differences that exist between our students, of which there are many, and we will not be attending to the individual needs of all the students in our classrooms.


To delve more deeply into the needs of individuals in context, we need to explore things more deeply and in a less limited, more context-laden way through qualitative re- search. We also need qualitative research to help us uncov- er many of the starting places for quantitative research, for it is possible that the things that we discover in one context may, indeed, hold true across at least some other contexts and that the things that we discover qualitatively with one group of participants may be the case for other individuals across contexts and settings. These are questions that must be answered quantitatively. Often, qualitative research can help us discover what are our quantitative answers are missing and the ways in which they are shallow or incom- plete. Qualitative research lets us explore things that are not easily explored through quantitative research, which by its nature is much more targeted, controlled, and bounded.


In quantitative research, researchers try to control for context and interacting variables. Yet, these variables and contexts are important. They are the realities of working with human beings in a context-driven educational enter- prise. Qualitative research takes context into consideration and even celebrates that context. Yet, just like quantitative research, it has its limitations. Qualitative research does not seek to nor can it answer whether its discoveries hold true outside of a specific context or the extent to which its results are generalizable to other settings and groups of people, so implications of the results outside of the specific research context are less clear.


Indeed, we need a healthy dialogue between researchers engaged in one, the other, and both of the research para- digms, with all researchers aware of and acknowledging the limitations of each of the paradigms and building on their strengths. We need to draw from the paradigm that is most useful in answering each specific question rather than let- ting our allegiance to a single paradigm drive our research agenda. We need to create diverse communities of scholars gathering around the most pressing issues in music educa- tion, and these communities need to be using every tool in our music education research toolboxes to move the profes- sion forward. We need to approach these issues through a variety of lenses, in a variety of contexts, and with a variety of participants to illuminate them more clearly, richly, thor- oughly, and deeply.


I fear that all too often research in music education is an example of the “old blind men and parts of the elephant” story that is a part of Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu lore. In


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