The University of St. Thomas


Kay, Tracy

Kay, Tracy

Developing a Listening Library of Women Composers for Junior High Students
Tracy D. Kay

The purpose of this project was twofold: to provide student access to listening experiences of art music that possess the qualities which research has found to positively influence student music preferences, and to counteract the lack of gender-equitable materials in the music curricula by providing female role models in the field of composition.

The selected review of the literature identified six elements which influence music preference: (a) the benefit of repetition on music preference; (b) the power of negative peer influence on music preference; (c) the influence of model characteristics on music preference; (d) fast tempi, prominent beat, easily perceptible melody, instrumental medium, and the use of Hargreaves inverted-U theory as the musical factors which influence music preference; (e) listener age, the use of humor in music examples, familiarity, and length of piece as nonmusical factors which influence music preference; and (f) the inclusion of personal historical and ability-appropriate analytical information, music vocabulary training and tasks which focus student attention and choice of response that positively influence music preference.

In the last ten years, books and recordings of women composers have become more readily available. Therefore, to select 10 women composers and pieces to be included in a listening library, seven criteria were developed based on the findings above, and five composer criteria were developed based on R. K. Lamb’s (1987) doctoral dissertation on women composers.

A brief biography is presented on the following women composers: Elisabeth- Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (1664-1729), Marianne von Martinez (1744-1812), Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847), Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979), Margaret Bonds (1913-1972), Nancy Van de Vate (b. 1930), Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b.1930), Laurie Anderson (b.1947), and Shulamit Ran (b.1949). Listening Library Response Sheets and answer keys for each composer and piece were developed, incorporating the instructional strategies found in the research.

Capstone Advisor
Curtis H. Frank