Profile: Sound Portrait Review

In the sound portrait, this student also responded to the profile assignment. The student decided that she would develop a project centered on the topic of what makes a successful marriage, specifically her parents' marriage. She developed interview questions to investigate both parents' perspectives and then conducted interviews separately with each parent on how they met, fell in love, and thrived through 25 years of marriage. Responses from her mother and her father were kept confidential, and the sound project was shared with her parents for the first time at the couple's 25th anniversary party.

The project begins with her parents' wedding song, which played throughout the project. The project provides one parent's response to a question, followed by the other parent's response, thus alternating for numerous prompts. From the responses, listeners gather an idea of what was asked, but more importantly the narrative through the research is the focal point rather than the questions used to drive the research. In her self-assessment, the student author reflected on her design choices:

I decided to switch back and forth between my mom and dad throughout the project. I decided to do this so they could both hear the other's responses to the same questions. I also played one of their favorite songs in the background. I had this idea from the beginning and decided to stick with it.
This project allows listeners a glimpse into the moments of the student's parents' memories through their reflective responses, which are all captured through intonation of voice and vocalization of emotion. In this project, the student allowed the responses to narrate the storyline. The passage of time feels seamless, and the student stated in her reflection the importance of being able to use sound to represent this project: "With print documents, I often have a hard time getting the emotion to come across and also trying to use the right words so the readers can paint the image in their own minds." Using sound-based projects is particularly engaging because an author has the ability to capture tone of voice, emotion, atmospheric sounds, including significant music, as represented by this example project. As evidenced in her reflection, using the medium of sound provided capabilities for this student's project that print could not have afforded:
I was able to help my readers understand the topic in a new way by presenting my topic in a sound portrait verses [sic] in a written paper. I want my readers to gain better understanding of this topic because my parents are my intended readers and through this project I am able to help them remember their past together. I have become a more critical thinker, reader and writer through this audio essay because I learned how to develop and show emotion in a different way other than words. I also learned that through prepared interviews one can reach the answer he/she is looking for. I was able to come up with questions where the interviewee had to explain and respond with more than a yes or no answer.

Throughout the project, the student said that she had trouble editing two hour-long interviews down to a three-minute audio file and therefore struggled to determine what to keep and what to delete. The student also indicated that she learned about ethical practices of using both primary and secondary research. The student said this project not only was the most enjoyable for her, but it was also the project on which she worked the hardest. She reflected that while working on the project, she did not think of how demanding the requirements were, but she believed if she had been required to write an essay she would have been irritated with the amount of work she was required to do for this project. She said that this project mattered to her because she was going to share it with so many people. The student was driven by the real-life audience, but more so by the upcoming anniversary party and the rhetorical situation of the celebration.