"No two are the same": A narrative account of supervising two students through a Doctor of Musical Arts program
This chapter reflects upon some of the issues arising from the author's experience of undertaking and supervising practice-centred research in relation to music performance. My research in this emerging field provides the background against which some of the diverse challenges that have arisen through the process of supervision are illuminated. In particular, this chapter will contrast two cases of students within the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA), a program that has practice-based research at its core and which the author convened for its first few years since its introduction in 2005. The chapter is written in the form of personal reflections in conjunction with a form of narrative enquiry whereby issues that have arisen through personal experience are presented through fictionalised cases and situations. In particular the chapter contrasts the cases of two fictionalised students in the DMA whose personalities, backgrounds, musical experience and academic abilities present different challenges within an academic context. The emotional vulnerability of both student and supervisor is explored together with the challenges of negotiating both the professional and personal relationships when working with highly creative musicians within this context. This paper gives a fictionalised narrative account of my experience of supervising two students through the Doctor of Musical Arts program. The context is that of my own work environment at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane, where I have been supervising postgraduate research for over a decade. I was convenor of both the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts when they were established as Higher Degree Research programs at our institution, and have supervised students through to completion in these as well as in the Ph.D program. The student cases discussed in this narrative are fictionalised. Though some aspects of them may reflect interactions with specific students I have known, the two central characters of Christina and Michael have been developed to reflect contrasting responses to various factors that arise through doctoral candidature. I hope that these fictionalised cases can shed some light on the nature of the experience for many research students as well as some of the significant differences in the way a supervisor may work with individual students at this level. Many factors have a significant bearing upon the supervisory relationship, including a candidate's research background, research topic, age, personality, ability to deal with criticism, as well as their personal circumstances and motivations. Of course different supervisors will approach the challenges of supervision differently and I do not intend to suggest that my approach to the task is in any sense exemplary. Nonetheless it is hoped that it may provide some insight into the complexity of the issues involved, the very real challenges that arise throughout the process, as well as the deeply satisfying sense of achievement that can come from the experience.
Research and Research Education in Music Performance and Pedagogy
Musicology and Ethnomusicology