Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Successfully Defended!

On Monday, November 16, I successfully defended my dissertation, Senior Adult Music Learning, Motivation, and Meaning Construction in Two New Horizons Ensembles.  I feel a sense of relief knowing that the end is in sight.  I brought home from Arizona a stack of edits from each member of my dissertation committee, so I still have a lot of work ahead of me before I print the final document and send it to the publisher for binding and microfilming.  No football for me this Thanksgiving (well, maybe the BYU/Utah game)!

A few hours before leaving for Arizona, I printed my dissertation, punched holes in the side, and put it in a three ring binder.  I then place the document on my desk and stared in disbelief and said, "Did I write all of that!"  Even more sobering, realized that my life for the last two and a half years was distilled in an inch and a half to two inch pile of paper.  All the notes, interview recordings, transcripts, videos, and pictures squeezed into 230 or so pages.  They say writing a qualitative dissertation is like making syrup, "You harvest 10 gallons of sap to get a pint of syrup."

Everyone has been so kind with words of congratulations and support.  I have been pretty low key at school, only giving my students tidbits why I have been missing school lately.  When I returned to school, most of my older students congratulated me, wondering what to call me now:  Sam ? (I allow my high school students to address me by my first name),  Dr. Sam?, Dr. Tsugawa?, Doc?  I specified the protocol:  "You may continue to call me 'Sam' and Mr. Tsugawa.  You can call me Dr. Tsugawa or Dr. Sam.  Please don't call me just Tsugawa or Doc (reserved for a special colleague).  Finally, please don't call me Dr. Tsugawa aloud in a crowded room or an airplane.  If someone drops of a heart attack, they may point to me and say 'Hey, he's a doctor!.'"

To all my doctoral colleagues, thank you for your friendship, support, and example.  The most fulfilling aspect of my graduate school experience has been the people I have met and worked with over the last three and a half years.  To the members and conductors of the Desert Foothills New Horizons Band and the BYU New Horizons Orchestra, thank you for allowing me into your lives.  It was an honor sharing your stories with the world.  Also, thank you to my professors, Drs. Marg Schmidt, Sandy Stauffer, Jill Sullivan, and Jeff Bush.  I will be eternally grateful to their commitment of time and treasure to help me find my research voice.  Their dedication to the profession of research and to the success of their students is an inspiration to me.  To Dr. Schmidt for her constant concern for my personal welfare, paving my way to attend ASU, allowing a trombone player to teach her string methods class, and her tireless editing (even the table of contents!).  And to Dr. Stauffer for her kindhearted demeanor, scholastic integrity, providing the resources for me to write this dissertation, and giving me the confidence and opportunities to write, present, and publish.  Thank you all.

Lastly, I could not have completed this journey without Trish.  She transcribed all 33 hours of interviews, saving me months of extra typing an analyzing.  She made the loneliness of dissertation writing bearable as we were able to talk about the participants in the study together.  Also, the personal sacrifices made during my year in Arizona while she stayed in Utah will assure her a place in the Doctoral Spouses' Hall of Fame (she is already a member of the Orchestra Director Widows' Hall of Fame).  "If music be the food of on."  ST


  1. congrats on getting your doc degree! From the little college I have been to I've decided that there is no way on earth I'm ever going to get a doc degree.
    You are amazing at what you do.

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