International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 6 Number 10

September 30, 2005

Musical Ways of Knowing:
A Personal Approach to Qualitative Inquiry in Education

Christine McMillan
University of Western Ontario

Citation: McMillan, C. (2005, September 30). Musical ways of knowing: A personal approach to qualitative inquiry in education. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 6(10). Retrieved [date] from

In this comparative essay, I examine how musical ways of knowing inform my educational research. To understand this question, I employ dual perspectives as a musician and qualitative researcher. I use Eisner’s concept of the art of educational evaluation (1985a, 1985b, 1997)—particularly as educational evaluation relates to connoisseurship and criticism—to explore how my aesthetic understanding of musical performance, with its descriptive, thematic, interpretive and evaluative aspects, illuminates the process of qualitative inquiry. I also evaluate an earlier quantitative study of sight-singing achievement among young students by viewing it through a more aesthetic, affective lens. In sharing how I have learned to trust musical ways of knowing to inform my educational research, I suggest ways that other music educators can focus their aesthetic lenses on research questions of interest to us all.

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