This article presents musical memoing as an arts-based reflective process and as a way to engage with and represent data in qualitative inquiry. Used in conjunction with more well-known approaches to data analysis (constant comparison and narrative analysis), musical memos serve to pull forth and highlight salient understandings emerging in the analyses. Moreover, musical memoing allows for the creation of concise yet holistic representations of the data, which can be performed in an embodied manner to enhance understanding of phenomena. The role of musical memoing is discussed within the context of a research study carried out at McGill University entitled, “Exploring a University Teacher’s Approach to Incorporating Music in a Cognition Psychology Course.” A brief overview of the research findings is presented, as well as the methodological implications musical memoing has for future research.


Musical Memos, Arts-Based Research, Qualitative Inquiry

Author Bio(s)

Dale Boyle (PhD, McGill) is a singer-songwriter, researcher, educator, and freelance writer. His research at McGill University explored the role that music can play in teaching across academic disciplines and it introduced musical memoing, an arts-based musical approach to analyzing and representing qualitative data. As a course lecturer at McGill, Dale teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, including research methods, educational theory, communication, and music-based courses. Dale regularly writes for Canadian Musician magazine on topics related to the art of songwriting. As a songwriter, Dale has been named a winner of various awards including: Unsigned Only Music Competition (2017); International Songwriting Competition (2012); and Narrative Songwriting Competition (2007). For more information visit www.daleboyle.com. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: dale.boyle@mcgill.ca.

Lynn Butler-Kisber (B.Ed., M.Ed., McGill; Ed.D. Harvard) is a Professor of Education at McGill University. Her work includes qualitative/arts-based methodologies; leadership, multiliteracies; and professional development. She is particularly interested in arts-based methodologies, more specifically in visual inquiry (collage, photo/film and visual narratives) and in poetic inquiry on which she has written and presented extensively. She focuses on issues of marginalization, equity and social justice. New publications include Poetic Inquiries of Reflection and Renewal: Poetry as Research (2017), with Guiney Yallop, Stewart & Wiebe; the second edition of her book, Qualitative Inquiry: Thematic, Narrative and Arts-Based Perspectives (Sage, in press) and Collage-making, in the upcoming Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research (edited by Atkinson, Delacourt et al.). Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: lynn.butlerkisber@mcgill.ca.


We would like to acknowledge the participants for contributing their time and insights that informed the study, "Exploring a University Teacher's Approach to Incorporating Music in a Cognition Psychology Course."

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