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Initial Research Idea

January 21, 2013 by   

Initial Research Brainstorm

AAD 630 Research Methods

Alexandra Richardson


After reading the first few chapters of the text The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project by Zina O’Leary (2010), I think I have narrowed down a good preliminary research topic. I have not yet satisfactorily articulated the perfect research question, but I have discovered that I likely will not require or have need for a hypothesis, as I believe my research will be more descriptive or explorative. After reading the text, I have also discovered that I am naturally leaning towards a postmodern or post-positivist epistemological approach to research. Here are a few ways I phrased my research question as I brainstormed:

How can arts administrators (venue managers, specifically) use their musical programming to intentionally combat isolation and alienation often experienced by individuals in large urban settings?

I realized that it would be very difficult to measure “isolation” and “alienation!” Further refined questions included:

What are the quantifiable ways that music improves lives? What are the specific benefits (for the concert attendant) of participatory and/or interdisciplinary music concerts? How do traditional rock venues encourage participation from audience members? Are concert attendants more likely to have a transformative or “peak” experience at a venue that is especially “customer-oriented” or a venue that in some way prioritizes customer participation?

This led to a basic, succinct question, one which I actually attempted to answer with this project from last term’s Art in Society class.

How can a musical venue increase the power of the live music experience for the attendants?

The research aim for this question would be to identify factors or variables involved in a transformative or healing live music experience. Identifying what makes a live music experience transformative or healing would certainly require me to be comfortable with a subjective approach to my research. My research would likely involve human subjects. Because of my background in psychology, this appeals to me. I would look at what venues currently do to engage their audiences. These methods could include, but are certainly not limited to:  encouraging social media usage before, during, and after concerts; running a volunteer and/or apprenticeship program for interested customers; programming interdisciplinary, innovative, or experimental performing acts; soliciting customer feedback via surveys or other means; the effect the aesthetic setting of the venue has; and nonprofit vs. for-profit venue issues.  I would like to also investigate new ways venues can engage audiences. Why don’t traditional rock venues offer masterclasses, or for that matter, season ticket subscriptions?

There are many different directions I could take this research area, and of course I must narrow it down. I am excited, though, to see where reviewing current literature in some of the above arenas leads me. I suspect seeing what scholarship is out there will help me to clarify what I would like to contribute to the arts administration body of research.


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