Ethnomusicology In order to answer this general question,

Ethnomusicology provides a vital research model for ethnographies in music education. The main difference is that ethnographies in music education revolve around educational issues which are directly related to the training and education of music. Virginia Garrison (1985) conducted a study to find out the varying forms of fiddle instruction of folk music in Cape Breton. The folk musicians of Cape Breton felt that their tradition was in danger of becoming extinct, in order to avoid that they organized a program to teach and learn fiddling through fiddle classes. The main research issue of the Garrison study was whether or not the uniqueness of traditional teaching methods and learning practices in an instrumental folk music tradition can be maintained when these are practiced in formal, non-traditional contexts. In order to answer this general question, Garrison had to answer two related sub-questions:

1)      What are the features of traditional teaching and learning procedures and contexts as recognized by carriers of the tradition?

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2)       What features of traditional teaching and learning procedures are preserved and which are lost and/or replaced as the folk music tradition shifts into more modern contexts?

Researcher Background

Since the researcher is the key catalyst, her expertise, qualifications, and background, were important factors in the shaping of the study. Garrison was a music educator with 20 years of experience in teaching music in the schools. Apart from teaching, she was keen in knowing the phenomenon restoration and protection of folk music, and she had wide background in ethnomusicology and educational anthropology.


Since the study required examination of teaching and learning practices in their natural social contexts it required face-to-face and widespread observation and communication with the people actually involved in these practices. In a short span of six years, Garrison conducted 72 observations of fiddlers who were practicing and 49 fresher’s (students) in a range of contexts, including fiddler classes, house parties, social gatherings, selected concerts, etc. at which the fiddle was being played. The entire observations were audio taped, photographs were taken. Garrison also conducted interviews, questionnaires were also administered by her to some of the participants and in addition Garrison maintained a personal dairy to document all the findings.

Research Findings

Data analysis of interviews revealed characteristics of successful fiddle learners of the past like passion of the fiddle, sense of responsibility for learning on their own and self-motivation.

Interviews provided data on different stages of being initiated into the process of playing in the past. The results suggested that the learner’s characteristics was not automatic, however the cultural context in which the learner resided provided the rich environment which motivated them to enhance their characteristics. The results also revealed some of the differences from previous to present traditions, for example,(1) included emphasis on discipline rather than intrinsic motivation; (2) individual learning rather than community based learning; (3) extremely developed music reading skills rather than only audio learning skills; and (4) the ratio of female learners were more compared to male learners.


Ethnographers give more importance for understanding rather than taking action. Based on Garrison’s study the following research implications were identified:

1.      Self-motivation. In traditional learning, the craving to compose music comes from motivational catalyst which is provided by the musicians and situations which are prevailing in the learner’s home and community. If the learner’s home and community have not provided the context necessary for such motivation, then the teacher is obligated to do so in the non-traditional context of the school classroom.

2.      Passion of the music. We cannot have passion for music which we are not familiar with. In folk society, the passion for the society’s traditional music grows out of the learner’s unified experiences not only with the sounds of the music, but also with the people and contexts in which those sounds are emanated. So, it is the duty of the teacher in non-traditional teaching and learning contexts to find ways to give these unified experiences to guarantee the required artistic pleasure.

3.      Accountability for one’s own learning: the confidence of performance in folk society is associated to the folk musician’s approval of the accountability for their own music learning. The musician might have, intentionally or reflexively, learnt music through participation, observation, and experimentation which have, over time, been mainly optimistic and pleasant. Whereas in nontraditional contexts, the music learners needed lot of opportunities to experiment, observe, and hear and execute the folk music in pleasing real-life situations.

Ethnographic study elucidates the center on culture and its inherent, shared values and messages where all facets of culture and music are potentially pertinent. It provides a rich description of practices, cultural scenes, and beliefs. Triangulation techniques were used by the researcher in concluding on a variety of sources, contexts, and techniques. Most notably, it reveals the hidden meanings held by the participants about specific music practices (formal and informal).


Best Buy

Best Buy, a leading U. S consumer electronics retailer, headquartered in Richfield, Minnesota, was interested in exploring the feasibility of expanding its selection of health and fitness departments within its stores. They were interested to know how well customers would accept this brand expansion with a particular focus on creating a health and fitness shopping experience that would appeal to female shoppers.

The researcher conducted a sequence of in-home groups of female shoppers who had recently purchased the equipment. The aim of the researcher was to understand the decision making process and also to recognize the motivation for investing in equipment. During the research work, the researcher recorded the stories said by the female participants about stores which they often visited and also their experiences with the shopkeepers Best Buy was also included.

The researcher provided Best Buy with numerous updates all through the discovery phase to help Best Buy in the progress of three uniquely staged in-store fitness departments. The researcher recruited participants conducting interviews at the residence of the participants, as part of that consumer engagement, conducted shop-alongs (refers to one-on-one, in-depth interview which examines actual shopping behavior instead of behavior that is recalled and reported after the event is over. Topic areas for discussion may be based on: The product: packaging, shelving, displays, branding, pricing and labeling) to the Best Buy sample fitness departments and also an extra retailer within each area to get assorted data points.

USA Swimmingi

USA Swimming, a National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States headquartered in Colorado, wanted to understand the perceived benefits and challenges, from the parents’ point-of-view, of a child’s participation in organized swimming programs.

The researcher conducted poolside intercept interviews with parents of recreational and club swimmers. These short interviews took place when children were either working on their strokes or splashing around in the pool as part of a prearranged swim practice.

The researcher discussed with the parents on the overall experience of being a “swim parent” together with how that experience is in evaluation to other sports their children have tried or may be vigorously participating in concomitantly with swimming. Prominently, the researcher explored how the parents’ perceptions of swim team were inveterated once their children began keenly participating in swimming and the benefits of joining a team meant for swimming. With the children’s the researcher discussed their perceptions about organized swimming: who participates, perceived time commitment, benefits for children, availability in local areas, and comparison of swimming to other organized sport options.


It is recommended that an ethnographic methodology of data collection may be beneficial in the early stages of a user-centered project that deals with an intricate design challenge. This is because ethnographic research methods allow a principally profound understanding of a design problems, audience(s), field, processes, context(s) and goals of use. The above mentioned ethnographic methods are useful in exploring and discovering issues which are not known to the common man.

The other crucial decision within an ethnographic study is the selection of ethnographic researcher. Because the individual will design the data collection procedure, collects the data and also does analysis of the study’s findings, therefore it is important that they have the experience and skill to ensure the study is representative of the population and precise.

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