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A perennial problem in gendered participation in music: what's happening to the boys?

  • Scott D. Harrison (a1)

Despite three decades of research, gendered participation in music continues to be problematic. While many aspects of Western society maintain a patriarchal stance in the workplace, it is apparent that girls have made some significant changes in their musical choices. Males, it seems, are maintaining the same preferences for instruments as they did 100 years ago, avoiding ‘gentler pursuits’ like singing and playing the flute. This paper seeks to investigate the continued existence of stereotyping of musical participation and to discover some of the underlying reasons for this in the musical choices for boys through the literature. Furthermore, themes arising from existing research are investigated through fieldwork recently conducted in Australia.

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H. F. ABELES & S. Y. PORTER (1978) ‘The sex-stereotyping of musical instruments’, Journal of Research in Music Education, 26, 6575.

I. F. DAMSON (1936) ‘The boys who did not sing’, Music Educators’ Journal, 23, 41–3.

S. L. FORUCCI (1957) ‘The crime against the singer’, Music Educators’ Journal, 43, 93–4.

P. J. FORTNEY , J. D. BOYLE & N. J. DE CARBO (1993) ‘A study of middle school band students instrument choices’, Journal of Research in Music Education, 41, 2839.

H. GRACE (1916) ‘A choir problem of today’, The Musical Times, 57, 367–9.

L. GREEN (1997) Music Gender and Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

R. HORROCKS (1995) Male Myths and Icons: Masculinity in Popular Culture. New York: St Martins Press.

S. A. O'NEILL & M. J. BOULTON (1996) ‘Boys’ and girls’ preferences for musical instruments: A function of gender?’, Psychology of Music, 24, 171–83.

S. PICKERING & B. REPACHOLI (2001) ‘Modifying children's gender-typed musical instrument preferences: the effects of gender and age’, Sex Roles, 45, 623–42.

F. A. VIGGIANO (1941) ‘Reaching the adolescent who thinks its sissy to sing’, Music Educators’ Journal, 27, 62–3.

R. W. WINSLOW (1946) ‘Male vocal problems in the secondary school’, Music Educators’ Journal, 32, 5861.

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British Journal of Music Education
  • ISSN: 0265-0517
  • EISSN: 1469-2104
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-music-education
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