Now that my general outline of inquiry has been laid out, I want to go back a few steps and focus on the question: How did reach this decision?






As I’m new to this inquiry framework, in the past few days I’ve realised that in coming up with clear goals, as detailed in my first post, I have failed to indicate the process I followed to create them. Specifically, I should elaborate on steps 1-3 from the Inquiry Steps:

Step 1: Starting

“Learner creates/co-creates a question or questions that are of a kind that will allow an inquiry or a quest to take place.”

PSII Inquiry Framework Step 1.

From the first thoughts after being given this project, I immediately started to consider a number of musical skills I could try to develop. I thought that by working on a creative skill, I could attempt to balance out the academic workload that’s been increasingly piling up. (Or at least it would pile up if everything wasn’t online, somewhere.) There are a variety of instruments I was considering for this project. A few weeks ago I received a keyboard from a friend, but haven’t played a piano since I was 10, so I thought initially this was a good contender. I also recently started learning to play the electric bass guitar so I could join in with my friend’s jam sessions. Some extra focus on improving these skills would definitely make these sessions more enjoyable. I also have a ukulele in my apartment that my partner plays, and I have enjoyed the few times I have sat down to try to “figure it out”. Overall, though, I most frequently play my acoustic guitar, and I would always enjoy picking up a new technique to add to my skill set.

So it was clear from the start that my initial inquiry question was:

What kind of music skills do I want to develop?



Over the course of a few days considering this question, I began analysing what kind of goals for each instrument I could potentially accomplish for this project. And so my dive into Step 2 had begun.

Step 2: Deepening

“Learner takes on early research based on starting questions. Research may involve creating something or doing something besides just reading or talking. The goal is to improve the quality of the question(s) from Step 1.” – PSII Inquiry Framework Step 2.

I looked into introductory piano books and played around on the keyboard one afternoon. Though I feel like it would benefit my understanding of music theory, I did not have the same excitement playing the keyboard when compared to playing the other instruments, especially when considering the coming weeks of focus that would be required for this project. I tried out playing  the ukulele next and downloaded an introductory book to play along with. This resulted in a more positive experience than keyboard provided me, but as a somewhat-competent guitarist already, I felt there was a less satisfying range of sounds I could get out of it, compared to the guitar, and so quickly cut this from my choices. Left to decide between the electric bass guitar and the acoustic guitar, I came to a standstill for a couple of days —likely overthinking this whole process. ­One morning, however, while playing the acoustic guitar without any intentions of considering goals or projects, I spotted on my shelf a Blues Fingerpicking book I’ve had for years, but haven’t given more than a few glances through. As I flipped through the pages and realised it’s approachable layout, I threw the “bass guitar option” away (sorry jam friends!) and narrowed my focus towards improving my blues fingerpicking skills. I began listening to some of my favourite old Blues artists and remembered I actually had a book of songs from Mississippi John Hurt, a mid-twentieth century Country Blues player. After looking through it, I began to recognise some of the songs and my focus became clearer. As this style of guitar has a lot of techniques that I’m unfamiliar with, I’d personally categorise these songs as “complex”. It’s clear that playing even one of these songs would be an accomplishment. So now that I’ve chosen an instrument and a specific skill to learn, its time to narrow my inquiry further through step 3.

Step 3: Refining

“Learner creates new questions based on research and learning in Step 2. These could be expressed in a mind map […], or just a new list of questions.” – PSII Inquiry Framework Step 3.

This is where the real exciting details start to emerge and become clearer. Over the next few days, I’ll be trying to figure out the answer to the following:

  • In addition to the “Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar” book, what kind of resources are available to aid me in developing these “Beginner” skills?
  • Will this “Beginner Fingerstyle” book provide the necessary skills to play a song or two from the Mississippi John Hurt book?
  • Which song should I work towards being able to play?
  • How will I break down the required skills I’m needed to develop into manageable parts?
  • How will I track my progress?
  • How will I present the development of these guitar skills throughout the Inquiry Project and at its completion?

Check back in soon for my next post to find the answers to these!