Dialectic dialogues: a discourse analysis of everyday talk between adolescent guitarists learning music with a peer outside school
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For many teenagers, learning to play guitar might only involve themselves and one or more of their peers interacting outside school. Music education research, however, does not reveal the spectrum of ways in which adolescent musicians interact to learn peer-to-peer. The purpose of this study was to examine this process: how adolescents verbally and nonverbally communicated to learn music together and without adult teachers. Two research questions in this study addressed how systems of meanings emerged in adolescent musicians’ processes of talk. The first was: How do participants learning jointly and independently communicate with a peer outside school? The second question was: How do participants assess independent learning along with their peer and joint learning outside school? The participants were six adolescent guitarists from El Paso, Texas. The final candidates included five males with Hispanic backgrounds and one Mexican-American adolescent male. Data were collected in three observations of the guitarists learning in pairs. Data were also collected in interviews, artifacts, and field notes. Discourse analysis involved review of recorded observations, field notes, and transcripts. Data were coded and parsed into categories. Multiple systems of meanings emerged in themes. Quoted material helped to explain the discourse themes. Three sets of findings included main dialectic discourse themes: together–individual, unreserved–reserved, and established–undetermined. Four identity discourses—self-learner, coach, musical artist, and friend—emerged from participants’ dialogues. Three themes indicated how participants individually assessed learning, and two themes showed how joint evaluations emerged peer-to-peer. This study and its results highlight a spectrum of ways adolescent musicians use everyday talk to learn music outside school. Findings in this study might empower music teachers to facilitate their students’ own peer dialogues. Future research can build on the foundation of findings here, which raise questions for exploring how communication outside school might compare with communication in school, how peer-to-peer music learning might be facilitated, as well as implications about why certain types of communication influence music learning.
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