Skip to Main Content

Music Education: Masters Student Guide

This guide is designed to assist students seeking a master's degree in music education.with finding resources for their research projects, including theses.

WorldCat Search Bar


Two is better than one

Think about it: search engines crawl thousands, maybe even millions and billions, of pages or records trying to match your search term with results. You're going to be absolutely overwhelmed with results if you only enter a single search term. You're also going to find a lot of completely irrelevant stuff.

So how can you improve your chances?  

Come up with multiple search terms and combine them using the options described here.

Venn diagram highlighting the area of overlap between the two circles.

Combining search terms with AND will:

  • Reduce the number of results
  • Make the search focus more specifically on your topic

Search for "college student"  = 1.2 billion results 

Search for politics = 296 million resultsAdvanced search examples show how to select AND to connect multiple search terms

Search for "college student" AND politics = 43 million results more focused on your topic

Search for "college student" AND politics AND "2008 election" = 543,000 more relevant results

Combining search terms with OR will:

  • Expand your search and increase number of results
  • Give your search flexibility to find alternate terms

Search for film  = 601,786 resultsEBSCO search for movie or film

Search for movie = 199,781 results 

Search for film OR movie  = 642,906 results that mention either film or movie, or both

Search for "middle school" = 21,401 results that mention "middle school"EBSCO search for "middle school" or "junior high"

Search for "junior high" = 7,261 results

Search for "middle school" OR "junior high" = 28,177 results that mention either "middle school" or "junior high", or both

Combining search terms with NOT will:

  • Decrease your search results
  • Increase the relevancy of your results by telling the search to exclude certain terms

Search for "Hunger Games"  = 745 results Demonstrates the advanced search "Not" feature of EBSCO

Search for "Hunger Games" NOT movie = 487 results 


Search for cloning = 42,736 resultsBasic EBSCO search bar: cloning NOT human

Search for cloning NOT human = 30,325 results

Search engines attempt to match your terms to the items it searches (titles, authors, abstracts, description fields, full text, etc).

However, search engines do NOT understand phrases, sentences, or questions. So when it does this matching, it searches for each term indivdiually. Some searches attempt to find terms in proximity to each other, but this varies depending on where you search.

Quotation marks to the rescue

If your search terms are more than single worlds, employ quotation marks to show the search engine that you want the terms to be found together. The search will look for exactly what you place in the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.

Search for Adam Smith = 38,700,000 results

Search for "Adam Smith" = 2,730,000 results

Search for theory of relativity = 3,430,000 results

Search for "theory of relativity" = 856,000 results

Helpful search hints!

Don't forget --

  • Use KEYWORD searching initially to ID relevant records.
  • Use QUOTATION MARKS around terms that you wish to be searched in a particular order, e.g., "first steps in music."
  • Use SUBJECT or DESCRIPTOR headings to find additional resources on the same or similar topics. 
  • Use TRUNCATION (i.e., shortening a word to its root or base form using a designated symbol, such as ?, * !, $) for words that might:

*Have more than one significant form, e.g., symphon? = finds symphony, symphonie, symphonien, symphonic, symphonies.

*Have alternative spellings (type as much as you KNOW is correct!)., e.g. Stravinsky or Stravinski

Goldilocks Dilemma

Feeling a little overwhelmed by your search?Bike overloaded with packages

Information overload is a real thing!

If you are getting back too many results:

  • Be more specific with your search terms
    • Select narrower, more specific search terms
    • Add additional terms and connect with AND
    • Use quotation marks with phrases
    • Use subject headings instead of keywords
  • Utilize the search limiters
    • Search within the Abstract or Title fields specifically
    • Limit to a certain date range
    • Limit to certain types of publications
  • Search within a more narrow database
    • Instead of searching in the very large, multidisciplinary databases, search in a smaller subject-specific one

Heavy Overload / baskets on a moto by dee_. Used underCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Frustrated by a lack of relevant search results?Frustrated guy

If your search doesn't return results, it's (normally) because you are searching:

  • With problematic terms
  • In the wrong place
  • For something that doesn't exist

If you are not getting back enough results:

  • Work with your search terms
    • Is everything spelled correctly?
    • Is there an alternative term that would work (examples: automobile instead of car or middle school instead of junior high)
    • Select terms that are more broad (example: Midwest instead of Indiana).  
    • If you had multiple search terms, try reducing the number of terms. If you had been connecting terms with AND, try using OR instead.
    • Try using a truncation symbol to give the search flexibility
  • Remove search limiters
  • Make sure you are searching in a appropriate place
    • Use the About or Help feature to learn more about the database. Make sure the subject and coverage are appropriate for your search.
    • Try searching in a large, multidisciplinary database like Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, or Google Scholar.
  • Take a break and try again later. 
  • If you are still struggling, ask a librarian!  

Frustration (was: threesixtyfive I day 244) by Sybren Stuvel. Used underCC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Right-Sizing Your Search!

Remember!  You can focus your topic (or search) by adding terms that limit by:

  • Genre or Form
  • Time Period
  • Geographical Location 
  • Key Terms or Concepts

What to know when searching for scores ...

To find a score or recording of a particular musical work in the Butler Libraries' WMS Discovery Box, or Naxos Music Online, the following pieces of information will be helpful:

Composer’s [full] name:

Also, remember to consider alternate spellings for names that are derived from a language that uses a non-Roman alphabet, ex. Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, etc.

Title of the work in its original language

For example:  Jeux d'eau (Fountains) / Ravel; Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) / R. Schumann.

Alternative titles or nicknames

For example:  "Moonlight Sonata"/"Mondschein-sonate" (Piano Sonata no. 14 in C-sharp Minor, op. 27, no. 2) / Beethoven

You can find more info in A Dictionary of Music Titles by Adrian Room (REF ML 102 .T58 R6 2000).  N.B., Searching only by a work's nickname may cause you to not find certain things.  Not all publishers of scores or recordings use nicknames in the titles they provide.

Name of larger work from which piece comes (if applicable).

For example, a particular movement, such as "Clair de lune" ("Moonlight") from Suite bergamasque by Debussy.

Nationality of the composer.  This can help determine the language of your search terms.

For example:  piano = Klavier (German) = clavier (French, technically, "keyboard") = pianoforte (Italian) or sonata = Sonate (German) = sonate (French) = sonata (Italian)  N.B. Klaviersonate (sing) and Klaviersonaten (pl.) are compound words in German

**For more info, consult:  International Vocabulary of Music by Stephen Dembski et al (REF 108 .I49 1984)

Numbers associated with the work, such as sequence, opus, or thematic catalog numbers.  Examples of some common thematic catalog numbers include:

  • "BWV" = Bach Werke Verzeichnis (J.S. Bach)
  • "D" = Deutsch (Schubert)
  • "Hob." = Hoboken (F.J. Haydn)
  • "K" = Kochel (Mozart)

**You can often find thematic catalog numbers using the Butler Libraries' catalog, WorldCat, or the "works" section at the end of composer entries in The New Grove Dictionary

Key signature

Instrumentation (or original instrumentation of work).

Score format that you desire.

For example:  full score or conductor's score, mini-score, vocal score, piano reduction


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

Like us on FacebookInstagramFollow us on Twitter