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Locating ‘The Road to Lisdoonvarna’ via autoethnography: Pathways, barriers and detours in self-directed online music learning

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This autoethnography documents the author’s experiences in learning to play mandolin purely through online resources over the course of nine months. Specifically, this self-study explored the rewards and challenges he associated with online mandolin instruction and the teaching styles he perceived as the most effective. Data sources included notes from online folk music instructional videos, personal journal entries, weekly practice logs and recorded practice sessions, all of which traced the learning process spanning the nine-month time period. Findings indicated that enculturation was an important part of the journey, as was the abundance and diversity of online tutorials. Role conflict and frustration emerged as distinct challenges, however, along with a sense of isolation as the study progressed. Additionally, instructors who transmitted an engaging disposition produced the most emotive and educative video lessons. Implications include practical applications of online learning as well as the possibilities of conducting autoethnography in music education research.
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Keywords: YouTube; autoethnography; folk music; informal music learning; mandolin; online music community

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of North Texas

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Music, Technology and Education (JMTE) explores the issues concerning the use of technology in music education. It examines pedagogy at all levels and across genres such as composition, musicology, performance and music production. It is the only journal specifically dedicated to the educational aspects of music technology and the technological aspects of music. Peer-reviewed, with an international editorial board, JMTE aims to draw its contributions from a broad community of educators, researchers and practitioners who are working closely with new technologies in the fields of music education and music technology education.
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