Qualitative Research in Music Education: Concepts, Goals and Characteristics

Liora Bresler, Koji Matsunobu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Qualitative research is an umbrella term for a wide array of genres. Recognizing the differences in intellectual traditions, purposes, units of analysis, and foci of qualitative research, this chapter examines the shared assumptions within qualitative inquiry, its broad goals, key concepts, general characteristics, and methods. The epistemological, methodological, and ethical underpinnings of qualitative research are discussed through current research examples in music education. Central to the discussion is reflexive, recursive, responsive, and collaborative aspects of qualitative research, as well as its emergent research design and interpretive process. Related issues to be discussed are the criteria of process and product, including trustworthiness and validity of interpretation, the situated nature of the researcher, subjectivity, the role of senses, and empathetic, case-specific understanding. We also discuss how the processes and characteristics of music and sound can inform the ways we conduct and think of qualitative research.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education
EditorsColleen M Conway
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199844272
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • case study
  • ethnography
  • phenomenology
  • emergent research design
  • empathy
  • senses in fieldwork
  • polyphonic texts
  • ethics


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