Communication is Key

I think needing to do the research purpose and significance statements were great things to do early on in this project. It forced me to solidify exactly what my project is about, and now I have a clear list of what needs to be done in the coming weeks. It can be so easy with projects to have such scatterbrain and not force yourself to coalesce. Due to the solitary world of research it easy to just shut yourself in. However, forcing yourself to define what you are doing gives you a clearer path to walk, and avoids that scatterbrain lone-wolf mentality that could get you in trouble.

Not only was the self-reflection important, but needing to communicate its nature and significance clearly was even more important. Even though the subject is easy to communicate, making it understandable in a way that many people can understand forces you to look at your project from a different angle. The strategy of using metaphors is a perfect example of this. Because you are knowledgeable about your topic you only really think about your project within that world, but metaphors force you to think about it through a “shared experience” lens.

I think another way of doing this simplification is something that movie writers do a lot, where they pitch their movie as a combination of two movies (Jaws meets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). I think this way works well for my project, as I have been describing it as “Historical ASMR meets Jewish Jazz”.

I also think that thinking about the idea of applied vs. basic research is also very helpful in writing the significance statement. Although this binary might be kind of forced, it is good to know whether or not your problem is solving an immediate need in the field, or if it is research for the sake of general knowledge. My project is obviously basic research, as most history and music scholarship is, but some projects do live in that gray area, where it’s even more important to address this dichotomy in relation to a project.

I am lucky in that my project has elements that almost everyone has encountered, history and music, so it is not that difficult to conceptualize my project from a different field. Still, knowing its essence and being able to communicate that easily will be tremendously helpful skills to have.

My current professional goals are to become a music teacher of some kind, so needing to communicate about this project won’t be super-relevant. However, discussing the things that I learned and applied musically in the project will be important because hopefully those will be the things I will be teaching later. Things like theory, instrumentation, jazz history, and also music production are all things I can see myself needing to discuss if I become a teacher, and so communicating these aspects of my project will help me solidify that teaching skill.

Beboppers such as Tommy Turrentine were bored with making the general audience feel good with jazz; he wanted to explore its harmonic and melodic possibilities. Doing this turned a lot of people off to jazz. It’s important to do things that you want to do, but that its goodness and purpose can be communicated to other people easily.

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