The University of St. Thomas

Music

Langsjoen, Sonja

Langsjoen, Sonja

An Identification and Examination of Selected Factors in the Gender Composition of Beginning Band Percussion Sections
Sonja L. Langsjoen
Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine selected factors that affect the allocation of males and females to the percussion sections of beginning bands. The selected factors were chosen by studying literature on the subject of gender and musical instruments. The problem was addressed by developing a survey instrument for distribution to teachers of beginning band students. A survey return rate of 81 percent was established.

The overall gender balance of the percussion sections of the survey respondents was 68 percent male, and 32 percent female. After analysis using Chi squared tests, the data revealed three main results.

First, the requirement or recommendation of piano background as a prerequisite for entrance was found to have a relationship with the gender balance of the percussion sections of the respondents. Specifically, a piano prerequisite was found to be related to a lower percentage of boys, and a higher percentage of girls in the beginning percussion sections.

The requirement of a bell set as part of the percussion equipment kit was found to have a relationship with the gender balance of the percussion sections of the respondents. Specifically, a bell set requirement was found to be related to a lower percentage of boys, and a higher percentage of girls in the beginning percussion sections.

The gender of the director was initially found to have a relationship with the gender balance of the percussion section of the respondents. Specifically, the percussion sections of male directors contained a higher percentage of male percussionists than the established average, and the percussion sections of female directors contained a higher percentage of female percussionists that the established average. This relationship was found to be dependent on the factors of piano prerequisites and bells, and when those factors were accounted for, the director gender relationship to the gender balance of the percussion sections disappeared.

New studies can be done on the utility of piano and bell requirements, and to determine which requirement is the stronger in affecting the gender balance of beginning percussion sections. The methods of this study can be extended to other band and orchestra instruments.

Advisor
Sheila J. Scott