Karin S. Hendricks, Cheryl Freeze, and Delaney Finn
In our increasingly globalized world, information is becoming more rapidly available, but also more rapidly distorted and/or manipulated toward particular political aims. Although technology provides an unprecedented opportunity to learn about people and societies other than our own, trust in other people is experiencing a generally downward trend, whether concerning trust of those across the world or those nearby in our own political systems and institutions of learning (Tschannen-Moran, 2014). Music making can, however, provide a unique space for the facilitation of collective and relational trust (Hendricks, 2018; Kumar, 2020). Trust, as defined by Tschannen-Moran (2014), is the “willingness to be vulnerable to another based on the confidence that the other is benevolent, honest, open, reliable, and competent” (p. 20).
In this paper we describe how seven facets of trust (vulnerability, confidence, benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, competence) play a role in the conflict transformation work facilitated by Meg, a Belfast-based singer-songwriter, folk musician, and peacebuilding activist. Meg has been involved in an array of programs working towards change, working through activism, creative writing, and music. She has worked as a conflict transformation and peacebuilding facilitator in different conflict areas: Romania, Palestine/ Israel, Indonesia, Colombia, and Ireland/Northern Ireland. She just finished a folk songwriting program based on “partition,” which deals with the creation of the state of Northern Ireland in 1921, and currently works as a community engagement officer for the National Museums Northern Ireland.
Meg consented to participate in the research through IRB-approved protocols. The research team for this intrinsic case study (Stake, 1995) consisted of three music teacher-researchers. Data collection included two 90-minute, semi-structured interviews with Meg, using Zoom; and review of related artifacts (e.g., music videos, website, prior interviews with others) that Meg provided. Prior to the interviews, we gave Meg a pre-interview writing prompt to allow her to reflect upon questions related to the seven facets of trust. The review of artifacts assisted with triangulation (Stake, 1995), helped to frame interview questions, and assisted with data interpretation.
Analysis was in the form of researcher interpretation (Stake, 1995), based on interview notes, review of artifacts, and extant research on trust. We coded interview transcripts and other artifact-related notes according to the seven facets of trust. Two researchers first coded both interview transcripts separately. Next, all three researchers met together to discuss interpretation and alignment of codes, and to achieve interpretive convergence (see Hendricks & Bucci, 2019).
Five poignant themes emerged from the analysis as related to trust, music-making, and conflict transformation: (a) the multifaceted and dynamic nature of trust in Dani’s work, (b) facilitating a multi-layered space of presence to foster trusting connections through music, (c) vulnerability and choice, (d) competence as self-awareness, and (e) trust in the process of music making. By exploring various ways in which Meg facilitates trust through her musical engagements, we offer implications for community musicians, classroom teachers, and other individuals working in conflict situations.
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