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Kari K Veblen
Music 1800
December 12, 2015

Abeles, H. (2009). Are musical instrument gender associations changing? Journal of Research in
Music Education, 57(2), 127-139. doi:10.1177/0022429409335878

Throughout this article, Abeles discusses how musical instrument gender associations

are changing over time. Through a series of conducted experiments, Abeles also analyses what
instruments are considered to be more masculine/feminine. Abeles then concludes that gender
associations with musical instruments may be influential in the lives of male and female
musicians as they pursue a musical career.

I was interested by the statistical analysis presented by Abeles. Once I saw the results, I

realized that I had never asked myself why these musical stereotypes were the case. Why are
there more male percussionists than female, and why more female flute players than male?
It surprised me to know that there was little change in instrument gender associations
between the 1970s and 2000s. Even in my high school music class, the instrument gender
associations were not as closely linked with these statistics. For example, there were usually a
balance of male/female trombonists and saxophone players. In contrast to the statistics
presented, the tuba players were only female and the trumpet players were mostly female
musicians. The instrument gender associations that do correspond however are the large
amount of male percussionists, female flautists, and female clarinet players.

I was frustrated with the concluding results presented by Abeles through the

investigation. It was noted that The results indicated that the instrument played by the
candidate was an important predictor of being hired for an instrumental music position
(Abeles). I have seen various instrumentalists that do not correspond to this criteria who have
been hired over other people not for their choice of instrument but for their level of skill and
technique. This is what I believe to be the deciding factor in such positions. In another, more
recent study, Cramer, Million, and Perreault (2002) surveyed college students to examine how
gender associations with musical instruments affected their perceptions of musicians. They
found that the perceptions of male and female musicians depended on the instrument on
which the performers played. For example, males who played feminine instruments were
perceived as less dominant and active and had less leadership skills than females playing the
identical instruments. (Abeles). I believe that this is purely a stereotype, if a musician truly has
the skills to lead other musicians, their ability will not be limited by their instrument choice.
As a comment to the author, I would have liked more statistical analysis revolving
around the impact of instrument gender associations. What are the results, and how would the
music program of today be different if instrument gender associations did not exist?