Creating an Inclusive Music Culture

The beautiful sounds played by orchestras and wind ensembles in concert halls, school rehearsal rooms and festivals rarely include music composed by women.  Women play instruments and conduct ensembles, yet the music they compose remains largely unheard in our culture.

Music teachers are in the privileged position to become leaders as agents of change toward a more inclusive curriculum — one that involves teaching and performing music composed by women. In order to provide agency to teachers, a study was designed around a teacher leadership workshop.

Twenty-five music educators attended this day-long workshop, during which they heard a band play repertoire composed by women; they also discussed how to incorporate more female-composed pieces into their music school programs.  Additionally, the music teachers took a survey to enlighten researchers as to why music composed by women is performed less often than music composed by men.

Their answers? Biased music publishing practices, difficulties in accessing music and the use of state-curated approved music lists that do not include music composed by women.

Approximately five months after attending the workshop, participants were contacted again to complete a second survey. The data showed educators perceived themselves as transformative leaders, and they were more inclusive in their curricular choices after the workshop. In fact, these teachers programmed 7.4 percent more music composed by women the year following the workshop than they did in the previous school year. 

All of this goes to show that, when armed with resources that enable them to choose from a more gender-inclusive repertoire, these educators can make more inclusive choices. The authors recommend offering music teachers with professional development opportunities like the aforementioned workshop to help them realize their transformative leadership potential.

Participants indicated that they believe themselves to be good leaders, overall, and that they can be influential in initiating social change.

And that is music to everyone’s ears.


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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.