Transcribing is a mug’s game.

I am 20 minutes into my recording transcriptions. Out of 18 hours. I’m dying here! They take so long to transcribe, even though I type as fast as I can, and I don’t repeat the interview too much. I’m really struggling to get through them. I now understand why it is that transcribers and stenographers are paid so well: it must take them about 3 hours for every hour of transcription, which is nothing compared to my 6 hours. I’m sure it will get easier. I hope! Still, I’ve done a few things to try and make the transcription process a little easier. I don’t bother with video – my audio recordings are fine, as my digital USB recorder is very clear for this type of task. It’s a Sony 1 gig stereo recorder – I probably should have bought the 2 gig one, but it was $100 more expensive at the time. I’ve created a Word template that includes a text box column on the right hand side so I can make notes as I transcribe, or so my participants can choose to correct their ums and ahs when I send them the PDF file. The text box will also be useful when I am going though some of the transcriptions with my supervisor. She will be able to make comments in the boxes that I can then look at without having unintelligible scribble all over the text. So at the moment I have heaps of pages, but I will reduce the font before printing, which should make a difference.

I’m finding that doing my own transcriptions, with the rich detail it entails, is allowing me to consider my themes or threads that seem important WHILE TYPING. I am also aware of finding the bumps and tensions within the text that stand out from the regular flow of narrative. I am very interested in discourse analysis and textual ambiguities in the narrative that are perhaps “hiding” or altering my participant’s true opinion of something, the pauses, the silences, the quick replies. I’m not sure I will have time to look deeply at these elements, as I will be very focussed on a few specific elements of the analysis – probably the emotion of singing and teaching, the enculturation of singing teaching and learning and the pedagogy. I’m loving learning about my current participant’s story (my very first interview with a student – it will be interesting to see how I deal with the remainder of students and teachers). I noted when doing the interviews my tendency to find parallels in the teachers’ stories with my own history, and my desire to tell THEM about these parallels. Hmm.

This is where narrative analysis becomes interesting. I will enjoy working through this with my supervisor. My hubby talks about the thrill of discovery. It’s true. It really feels like that! As always, it has taken me forever to settle to the task, but once I do, it is at once both tedious and time consuming, yet fascinating and deeply thought-provoking. And it’s curious to note how patchy my memory is of the actual events within the interviews. Good to have the recording for backup. I’m happy to report I tend to stay out of the picture – I let the participant talk for themselves, although I have noticed a tendency to lead questions, or to challenge a belief held by the participant. Not horribly over the top, but it is there. Something to think about and report to my supervisor about!

So yesterday I started my ICMPC poster, and continued with the transcriptions. Naturally, sustaining the work over weeks is my main challenge. I have 18 months of this to go! Certainly a whole year of data analysis if I’m honest about it. Definite urgh.


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