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We are men and we like to sing in big

block chords and close harmony.
Our songs all sound the same,
like bad rewrites of
“there is nothing like a dame”
and though our repertoire consists of
drinking songs and sailor songs and
barbershop quartets
we thank god every day from our
head down to our toes that we are not
sopranos or altos.
These lyrics from Kurt Knecht’s
“Manly Men: Men’s Chorus
Extravaganza” poke fun at stereotypes
of all-male choirs. Although these
words appear to make light of the
situation, they also point out longheld, underlying social constructs
including narrow views about singing,
masculinity, and heteronormativity.
In study after study, singing has been
coded as a feminine construct, and
scholars posit that this has caused many
males to stop singing during their K-12
school experience.2 Additionally, overly
simplistic tropes about male choral
singers and male choirs abound. Some
choral conductor-teachers assume
that male choirs should perform
a certain type of repertoire and
respond positively when treated like
a “team” with “masculine,” “coachlike” leadership.3 Clearly parallels
exist between the camaraderie and
culture of a sports team and that of a
male choir, but these two groups strive
toward different ends: a sports team
hopes to defeat an opponent, while a
male choir hopes to create an artistic
product through collaboration.4

ADOLESCENCE.” —Riki Anne Wilchins1 Joshua Palkki PhD Student in Music Education Michigan State University josh.palkki@gmail.G E N D E R T RO U B L E : MALES. you almost always find CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 25 . AND MASCULINITY IN THE CHORAL CONTEXT JO S H UA PA L K K I “If you scratch the surface of sexism and misogyny.

Similarly. knowingly or unknowingly.”15 One of the many social norms that students learn in educational contexts is culturally created16 and enforced gender roles/norms/stereotypes: what is typical for boys as distinct from what is expected from girls. Masculinity: A Spectrum Close your eyes and think of an adult male. which all play a prominent role in choral music. Children seem to absorb perceptions about masculinity and femininity early in life. Riki Anne Wilchins said. Sex refers to the biological distinctions that separate males and females.”12 Young boys learn lessons about how to become the male prototype (or how they will never live up to the ideals of hegemonic masculinity) in schools every day. males. and the pitch of one’s voice.11 This is especially significant in vocal and choral music. Singing and Masculinity In the twenty-first century. and sexual groups. linguistic. cultural. do overgeneralizations about male choirs accurately reflect the contemporary needs and attitudes of male singers? Researchers who study how educational settings perpetuate masculine norms challenge teachers to avoid false generalizations. society generally values masculine attributes more than feminine ones—a phenomenon known as hegemonic masculinity. A different perspective could stay current with (or even ahead of) trends and social norms to better align with current conceptions of masculinity. strong.G E N D E R T R O U B L E : MALES. cultural. in some sense. specifically males in the United States. “Because of the school’s economic role in differentially distributing a hidden curriculum to different economic. “normal. rugged. rather.18 Teachers. Trudy Lovell. ADOLESCENCE. Clarification of terminology used throughout this article will be helpful at this juncture. racial. gender becomes legible through attributes such as the clothes one wears. and class differences from the ‘normal’ will be maximally focused upon and will be labeled as deviant.”9 Finally. they call .13 A hidden curriculum exists in schools through which students learn. you have pictured a standard masculine prototype. for we have seen that the substantive effect of gender is performatively produced and compelled by the regulatory practices of gender coherence.”14 In applying this broad concept to gender specifically. What does this person look and act like? If you imagined someone tall. and if so. An important distinction is between sex and gender. whereas gender is a set of socially constructed ideas regarding what behaviors and physical attributes can be considered “masculine” or “feminine. Sexuality is analytically distinct from gender but intimately bound with it. or commanding. everyone is heterosexual and therefore. gender and sexuality are distinct terms. This stereotype has power and is defined in opposition to femininity. face potentially constraining social prescriptions regarding their sexual and gender identities. because when they are as young as age five. In exploring the complexities and diversity of young men’s lives. heteronormativity is an assumption that. Michael Kehler. “We are subject in daily life to a continuous dressage of gender.”6 Scholars contend (and this author agrees) that gender and sexuality do not exist as binary categories but rather as fluid.”8 According to Butler. play a role in this gender socialization process when. but neither is it a set of free-floating attributes. ever-changing definitions.”5 In light of this view.”10 Thus. the mannerisms one uses. like two lines on a graph that have to intersect. broad-shouldered. boys may “understand male gender in opposition to female and how boys may rely on gender stereotypes to form a male musical identity. which are often used incorrectly or confused as synonyms. muscular. each individual’s every move is weighted with gendered meaning. 26 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 unless stated. In this continuous drill. often without their teachers realizing it. tough. Sexuality “describes how (and with whom) we act on our erotic desires. and Kevin Davidson asserted that “an uncritical view of boys as a unitary group bound by an abundance of testosterone is…an inaccurate way to represent boys.7 As Judith Butler wrote. biology does not create gender. Michael Apple posited. choral conductor-teachers might ask themselves: does the male choir paradigm perpetuate antiquated stereotypes.17 Schools are especially important sites for generalizations surrounding gender roles in that schools may teach negative lessons like patriarchy but can also challenge gender stereotypes. “[G]ender is not a noun. for example. whom do these stereotypes affect? This article suggests that choral conductor-teachers can resist outdated conceptions about singing and masculinity and replace them with an inclusive approach that embraces a spectrum of masculinities in the choral context. and it may even attract more men to choral singing. researchers Blye Frank.

21 Adolescence and Gender The fact that adolescents grapple with emerging gender and sexual identities further compounds the gender socialization process. basketball as masculine vs. Activities are defined based on conceptions of the distinctions between masculinity and femininity (e. Society is changing—quickly—and choral conductorteachers can help reform the dialogue about gender in the choral classroom.19 including Ronald L. Sixty-one point four percent of students re- ported frequently hearing negative remarks about gender expression such as boys not acting “masculine enough. Consider the complicated contemporary terrain of gender and sexuality that students traverse in expressing themselves. that they should discuss: What if you had a gay male student in your classroom wanting to sing songs sung by other girls and could actually sing them? What if he wanted to sing alto or soprano? What if you had a girl who wanted to sing tenor or bass and could? What if they auditioned for the school musical. even though there is no known evidence to support such a connection.27 In a reflective self-study on singing as an adolescent male who did not conform to hegemonic masculine stereotypes. and perspectives of women or transgender people in their courses.”24 and as a result of this nonconformity. because they are always fluid and in motion.. for example. cheerleading as feminine). The process of performing masculinity is diverse and unique.25 Choral conductor-teachers can play a significant role in dismantling rigid gender stereotypes: Breaking down stereotypes and releasing students from their gender straightjackets is one critical way in which [conductor-teachers] can open up space for all students who define themselves as outside of the mainstream to find support and to be valued for who they are and not for what society tells them they should be. boys who participate in choir. Moshin.”20 Similarly. Adolescence can be a challenging time for students as they navigate puberty. desiring to perform roles contrary to your expectations? Would you disallow these learners the opportunity for a positive experience? Would you want to shield them from any oppression that could soon take place?28 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 27 . and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) 2011 survey of American students supports the notion that schools reinforce the gender binary and strict gender roles. Social norms have long associated masculine men with heterosexuality and feminine men with homosexuality. and the power differential between themselves and adults. Several scholars. as much as there is for femaleness and femininity. The option to reject simple binary distinctions such as “male” and “female” is increasingly prevalent and less stigmatized in recent years. artworks. Jackson II and Jamie E. have explored the notion that “there is a liminality that accompanies maleness and masculinity. Lesbian.g.AND MASCULINITY IN THE CHORAL CONTEXT on male students more than female students or fail to include the writings. Adam Adler and Scott Harrison suggested that choral music may provide “a much-needed escape from the masculine proving ground of the playground and sports. a study profiling Canadian adolescent males who resist hegemonic gender roles described how they demonstrate the spectrum of masculinities possible in modern society. Miroslav Pavle Manovski posed difficult questions with which choral music educators must begin to grapple.”22 Unfortunately daily social interactions may be arduous for these students who choose activities that do not fit neatly into the gender binary (binary meaning activities known as masculine defined in opposition to those coded as feminine).26 Further. including using their chosen names and pronouns and engaging them in a dialogue about which voice part they should sing and what concert attire they should wear. choral music educators must be prepared to work with transgender youth in a respectful manner. These overly simplistic correlations persist because they are often accepted and repeated in the choral context without critical examination. many boys were bullied or called homophobic slurs by their peers. This makes it difficult to take a quick snapshot of masculinities. choices about social groups. or at the very least.23 (This certainly was the author’s experience in middle and high school!) The Gay.

hegemonic assumptions about conflating male choirs with sports teams (see note 3). stereotypical notions of masculinity. “Manly Men” exposes misogyny in its rejection of women (sopranos and altos) and about the types of stereotypically “macho” (and heteronormative) texts/repertoire chosen for many male choirs.35 participants expressed more progressive views of masculinity and attitudes toward gender-sexual diversity than have appeared in previous literature on males and singing. small oversights still contribute to a culture of heteronormativity: “One of the first actions we can take as educators is to identify the ways through which we provide privilege for heterosexual students based on our acceptance of the idea that although heterosexuality is certainly more common. and music participation. who has written extensively on issues of gender. Though admittedly satirical. choral music is.”38 She examined several texts in which athleticism and masculinity were assumed characteristics for all boys and that if these masculine attributes were validated in the choral classroom. This example merely contrasts the limiting. however. American choral conductor-teachers . that males “should be” overly emotional.34 By heeding the advice of researchers and choral singers alike. This may be a systemic problem connected to music teacher training. Heteronormativity. In a study by Andrea Ramsey about the experiences of students in a high school bass-clef choir. Scott Harrison completed a study in 2007 in which the singing voice was rated as the third most feminine instrument after the flute and clarinet.32 Although the music education research community has long been fascinated by the sex stereotyping of instruments.33 Harrison and Adler suggested that the process of addressing larger social issues about what masculinity and femininity mean can begin with choral conductor-teachers: As music educators we must recognize the value in the creation of communities of learners in which we strive to educate not only the students but also the parents. and the avoidance of femininity. Julia Eklund Koza’s exploration of choral methods textbooks and articles uncovered “references to gender that reflected and reinforced discourses that are both misogynistic and homophobic. masculinity. This is not to say. And as a high school guy. including “gender role rigidity. in many ways. Koza’s article also tackled the problem of homophobia in choral music education. that’s not something I think we found anywhere else—that vulnerability and ability to talk openly about emotion.30 Harrison. Choral music education scholars have continually discussed recruitment of male singers. homophobia. The changed community would be one where a sense of ownership exists and where artificial masculinization of the arts [is] removed and replaced with more conducive structures. Another participant spoke eloquently about the life lessons he gleaned from his choral experience: One thing we really loved about [choir] was that we got to talk about deep poetry and be vulnerable. One participant who identified as gay said that the male choir accepted him unabashedly and affirmed his non-heterosexual identity. choral conductor-teachers can be part of a cul28 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 tural shift to enact positive change. boys would want to sing.”37 Teachers such as this one model inclusive teaching. it is not normal for some of our students.39 and since the early twentieth century. even more “gendered” than instrumental music. based on dominant. argues that several factors influence boys’ choices about singing. as that would only be as prescriptive as older stereotypes. Problematic tropes regarding masculinity have long existed in choral music. many boys have grown away from vocal activities.36 This participant pointed out that his high school choir teacher modeled such behavior: “He lets us understand that it’s okay to come out and say what you’re feeling. As Louis Bergonzi’s 2009 Music Educators Journal article reminded music teachers. ADOLESCENCE. and other teachers about the goals and values of our art.G E N D E R T R O U B L E : MALES.”29 Music education researchers have explored why singing has consistently been labeled a feminine activity. and Femininity Many choral conductor-teachers have long failed to acknowledge heterosexual privilege and heteronormativity in choral music and music education. Singing.”31 His research focused on how. Several choral conductor-teachers and music education researchers have written about the use of treble clef (all female) and bass clef (all male) choirs in school. administrators.

................................................................41 Despite decades of successful male choir performances and countless workshops and articles about increasing the number of male singers in school choral programs.... and the wonderfully crafted and colorful orchestrations by Brant Adams further enhance the festive potential of this thoughtful work......................99 10-Pack Listening CDs ...... $79.................................. (Limit 1 per organization/director...........................962....... $64...... Concertato on “O Little Town of Bethlehem. 15.... reproducible) ...................................................99 RehearsalTrax CDs (part-dominant..........00 Consort (CD-ROM) ...................................44 Harrison contented that “counter-stereotyping presents both a problem and a solution........................ If it is true that a common strategy for attracting boys to singing has been to make choral singing more masculine................95 Orchestra (CD-ROM) ...................99 Preview Pack (SATB Book/Listening CD) ......................... Extra musical suggestions offer directors creative options for presentation....8584 to order a Preview Pack (35030346) of Let There Be Christmas for only $5.. Steven Demorest suggested that male singing is viewed as unmanly in American culture..... congregational participation and original anthems.................................. CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 29 .......................” Carols from a Quiet Manger.............40 and studies in Australia echoed similar themes......00 StudioTrax CD (accompaniment only) ..................99 $5 Preview Pack Special Offer! Call 1.... 35030338 35030357 35030339 35030340 35030341 35030453 35030342 35030343 35030344 35030345 35030346 35030347 SATB ......................................... Songs include: Christmas Overture and Processional....... for the many people who have written about and worked on this issue....99 SplitTrax CD ....... Perhaps in exploring the underlying assumptions and words used in rehearsal...... this cantata is filled with moments designed to energize the spirit of the season in your community of faith... The Advent Rose..... $350......... well liked and enjoy high status can assist in overcoming the negative aspect of stereotyping.................... $15. The next section describes how choral conductor-teachers can use writings and research on male choirs.......... $35...............................................42 While this statistic also means that the percentage of boys singing in high school has not decreased........... little seems to have changed..... it certainly can seem disappointing that this gap has not narrowed........... and social shifts to reinterpret and reform masculinity in the choral context................................ 2015.....AND MASCULINITY IN THE CHORAL CONTEXT have worked to attract more males into choral ensembles... Bleak Midwinter’s Gift... Using carols.................................................. From jubilant songs of praise to reflective carols of peace........ choral conductor-teachers can be a part of a new social dialogue upon Joseph M........................800.... Let There Be Christmas.. Another study by Koza about the “missing males” in choir suggested that strict definitions of masculinity could decrease male interest in singing........................................ narration.. $8............................. $89. $350............................... A recent study by Kenneth Elpus revealed that for the past thirty years the male/female balance in high school choral programs nationally has remained constant at 70 percent female and 30 percent male........... A Joyful Gathering of Carols. $16...................43 In discussing recruitment and citing a critical genderist approach.00 Handbells – 3 Octaves (Digital) ...... $69.................” stating that “achieving greater numbers of male involvement with boys who are popular..............95 SAB .......... gender norms.......... $175..... Arise! (Hodie Christus natus est)......... this approachable work is the perfect choice for choirs of any size.............”45 But what about the boys who do not enjoy popularity or high status? Why would choral conductor-teachers not affirm those students who are likely already struggling socially in school? It does not need to be this way.......................... then perhaps choral conductor-teachers can identify this learned coding of gender roles as one reason for the lack of growth in male singing...... Martin This service in song is a joyous celebration of hope and peace for the Christmas season... The Divine Expectation..........) Offer ends Nov....00 Orchestra (Print) ........99 Listening CD................................................... $8.

Given that choral music has a text. Modeling a spectrum of masculinities through repertoire selection. Many choral conductor-teachers have long been convinced that male choirs want to sing pirate songs. however. Choral conductor-teachers can strive to provide balance in repertoire selection. and voicing. Equally important is a consideration of choral texts that can carry influential messages.g. wrote. for they may reinforce stereotypical masculinity. Quirky and humorous pieces (e.and eighth-grade bass clef choirs appreciated learning and performing pieces such as “Shoshone Love Song” by Roger Emerson (a beautiful and seemingly heteronormative love song in which each singer may choose whether to sing “‘he’ [or] ‘she’ is fairer” in the refrain) as much or more than they enjoyed the more up-tempo pieces. both in and out of the music classroom. No self-respecting young man wants to sing about clouds and rainbows. Andrea Ramsey. 1. Choral conductor-teachers may be especially influential in middle and high school when students remain enrolled in a music program over a number of years. a composer who has published many pieces for adolescent singers. Many books and articles discussing male choirs mention the importance of choosing repertoire that will appeal to boys’ masculinity. Similarly. Robert Shaw and Alice Parker) that have become staples of the bass clef choir repertoire. Reinterpreting Masculinity in the Choral Context The choral music community should begin by discussing these issues openly.”48 This is just one example of the blatant examples of hegemonic masculinity in choral music that this author argues are unnecessary and harmful. Martin Ashley concluded that “teachers with the necessary subject knowledge and willingness to confront gender issues can have a significant impact. which meaningful actions can be based. and barbershop quartets. should not be overly represented in the curriculum for male choirs. The bass clef choirs with which this author has worked enjoyed singing slower pieces that explored expressive lyrics. choral conductorteachers can make strategic and influential choices about masculinity in the choral context. Such pieces. historical period. 1) by Robert Schumann. a university bass clef choir enjoyed “Die Rose Stand im Tau” (op. Choral conductorteachers should bear in mind that these texts may reinforce gender stereotypes. so choral conductor-teachers should study lyrics carefully before choosing to teach them. no. and that young people of both sexes are amenable to possible changes that might result. serious pieces (“Dies irae” . But this fast/ slow and “manly”/sensitive binary is only one aspect to consider.. Male choirs. sailor songs. Assuming that choral conductor-teachers have a vested interest in the content and meanings of the texts with which they work. “Young men need an outlet for sensitive expression beyond male gender stereotypes of sea chanteys/work songs!”49 As someone who has conducted male choirs in K–12 and university settings. even though doing so may seem difficult and daunting. “Two Tongue Twisters” by Noel Goemanne). one action choral conductor-teachers can take to combat hegemony and heteronormativity is to explore the text of the repertoire chosen for study and performance. Take 30 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 this suggestion from the book Sing 6-7-8!: “Make sure that the music you choose does not emasculate the boys.47 During this time. Too many choral texts (as satirized in “Manly Men”) reinforce stereotypes about masculinity to counteract this. Choral conductor-teachers should take responsibility for creating safe space for all of their students. 65. mode. Following are specific ideas choral conductor-teachers can use when considering masculinity within the choral music experience.G E N D E R T R O U B L E : MALES. however. Text matters. A good mixture of repertoire includes variety in aspects such as language. expressive piece. an appropriate question becomes: what do the lyrics say about gender roles and masculinity? A balanced program for a bass clef choir should mirror the spectrum of masculinities that may accurately reflect the lived experiences of male singers. this author recognizes the importance of singing up-tempo pieces such as “Gaudeamus Igitur” (the rousing academic hymn arranged for men’s voices by Marshall Bartolomew) and “Vive L’amour” (arr. His seventh.”46 Conductor-teachers need to realize that remaining silent about these issues or allowing stereotypes such as “boys will be boys” to persist in the choral room only compounds the issue. a slow. tempo. In a study exploring adolescent male singers. during which time strong relationships can be cultivated. need not dwell on one type of repertoire. ADOLESCENCE.

Timothy It Is Not the Fact That I Will Die That Mind http://www.C. Karen High Flight Santa Barbara Music Publishing Runestad. arr. Inc. James Think on Me Colla Voce Emerson. Timothy Paper Cranes Takach. Schirmer Music Co. Kevin A.timothyctakach. Jake Dereva Ni Mungu http://jakerunestad. Z. Takach. Johannes. (arr. Randall Dies irae Alliance Music Publications. Donald (arr.AND MASCULINITY IN THE CHORAL CONTEXT A Short List of Suggested Non-heteronormative and Non-misogynistic Repertoire for Bass Clef Choirs Composer/Arranger Title Publisher Alexander. Steven Dulcis Amor E.judithcloud.timothyctakach. Pepper. Stroope Mainacht Alliance Music Publications. Inc Takach. Hayes Walk a Mile Alfred Music Publishing CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 31 . Laura Rain Music Hal Leonard Corporation Farnell.) Loch Lomond BriLee Music Publishing Robinson. Timothy Empty http://www. Andrea Cover Me with the Night Alliance Music Publications. Noel Two Tongue Twisters Oxford University Press Choplin.) America. the Beautiful Walton Music Mulholland.) J’entends le Moulin Earthsongs Ramsey. Joshua O Mister Moon Santa Barbara Music Publishing Stevens. arr. Halsey Remember Me Shawnee Press Stroope. Scott Come Travel with Me Walton Music Goemanne. Earlene (arr. Shank. Jim We All Have a Right Boosey & Hawkes Patriquin. Andrea The Roof Hal Leonard Corporation Rents. Ramsey. Laura Rest Not Hal Leonard Corporation Farthing.timothyctakach. Elizabeth If you can walk you can Dance (If you can talk you can sing) Seafarer Press Brahms. Roger Can You Hear the Bells? Hal Leonard Corporation Farnell. Sametz. Judith I hate flowers (from Words from an Artist’s Palette) www.

g.” Many composers now are writing specifically for adolescent male students using texts that they can understand and to which they may easily relate. how a bass clef choir is viewed in a tiered program as described above. to ensure that such festivals do not become overwrought with stereotypes that would only serve to give participants a narrow view of hegemonic masculinity (adages like “real men sing” are being used with increasing frequency. ADOLESCENCE. These festivals can be successful in part because. A variety of repertoire with varied texts. Steven Demorest described an annual “boys only” workshop held at the University of Washington at which boys participated in concentrated rehearsals and sectionals. For example. programs can be structured so that treble and bass clef choirs are valued just as highly as mixed ensembles. . The structure of choral programs may reveal underlying gender biases.53 is it any wonder that many American choirs lack tenors? Choral conductor-teachers can have male singers explore all parts of their voice (including the treble countertenor range) to help trouble the narrative that singing higher notes is de-masculinizing. an auditioned mixed choir is the “elite” ensemble. whose poignant lyrics depict the adolescent experience and are set to interesting and substantive music. to use less gendered language. This idea is already being implemented in several successful programs in North America such as Lyons Township High School in Western Springs and LaGrange. by Z.G E N D E R T R O U B L E : MALES. Other pieces contain texts that this author considers problematic (and often misogynistic). with all other choirs serving as “feeder” groups. the Indiana Choral Directors Association initiated a similar middle school choir festival that attracted hundreds of middle school boys the first year.” in which the narrator sings.51 Many choral directors now have implemented single-gender (or.”55 Mark Lucas chronicled a similar annual event at the University of Oklahoma that has been in place since 2006. and the text challenges and encourages singers to be themselves without fear. “treble clef ” and “bass clef ”) choral ensembles at the secondary level.54 To create investment in male singing.56 In 2004.52 Consider. an abundance of teaching tools (e. the text of his bass clef choir piece “We All Have a Right” was written for adolescent males with changing voices. a secondary choral program could have curricular. seems mostly unfair to females. voice part assignment is another “gendered” aspect of 32 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 choral music that deserves thoughtful attention. “I bought me a wife. In addition to recruitment.. then. Care must be taken. Modeling a spectrum of masculinities through the structure of choral programs and choice of recruitment tools. and this author posits that this is no singular definition for a “real man”). In such a hierarchy. More schools might reevaluate their programs in light of potential gender biases. treble and bass clef choirs are devalued because they can be seen as simply stepping-stones to the advanced co-ed choir.” which includes the lyric “I married me a wife and she ruined my life” and “I Bought Me a Cat. pieces with an uplifting message (“Rest Not” by Laura Farnell). This model. Recruitment for ensembles can aid in resistance to masculine stereotypes. Consider the music of Jim Papoulis. and advanced treble and bass clef choirs). emerging treble and bass clef choirs. such as “I Wish I Was Single Again. young singers can discover that singing is indeed something that all types of males do and may begin expanding their views about what activities they can pursue through adulthood. Choral conductor-teachers should continue to search for pieces such as this—with texts expressing the wide variety of emotions and life experiences—and continue to encourage and commission composers to write pieces that speak to the lived experiences of male students who represent a broad spectrum of masculinities. away from the potential social complexity of a co-ed environment. a beginning mixed choir.. Randall Stroope).g. kinesthetic. the level of competition for soprano and alto spaces in the “elite” ensemble is often much higher than for tenor and bass positions. Illinois. and light-hearted patter songs (“O Mister Moon” by Joshua Shank) present a few of the many facets of the non-hegemonic experience mirroring a spectrum of masculinities. Demorest recommended the replication of this successful program “because it contributes in a very positive way to the boys’ perception of singing as a male activity. and sang in an evening concert. Since high voices have been labeled as feminine. For many high school programs. tiered treble and/or bass clef choirs after an initial experience in a coeducational choir (e. aural. which also appears in some children’s choir organizations.50 Because there is often an abundance of female singers in high school choral programs. For example. heard male choir performances. In his article about recruiting male singers. however. 2.

actors. In choosing pop culture references. “Let’s have all the low voices sing here. All of this may be difficult to understand and can be unnerving. no. Conchita Wurst. Instead of saying. As exemplified in Ramsey’s study. CA: Alyson Books.” or in a co-ed choir. University of Toronto. Music. bisexual. NOTES 1 Riki Anne Wilchins. Serious chats about maturity and motivation can be balanced with class inside jokes. Choral conductor-teachers can be voices of change in the complex. Gender Theory (Los Angeles. 1 (1989): 32-47. Words and phrases that seem insignificant to a heterosexual male may make a positive impact on (or be devastating to) a transgender and/or gay male. popular music artists. transgender. Choosing a variety of metaphors and stories to share with bass clef choirs can address many forms of masculinity.” Our words convey our beliefs in the choral rehearsal context. Alfonso Elorriaga. or queer/questioning identity with others. Education (Cambridge. comedians. “Let’s have all the men sing here. choral conductor-teachers can refer to role models of many types of males such as football players. and it may mean that some teachers will need to challenge themselves and explore whether they are allowing students to truly be who they are without reservation or qualification. 2010): 39-53. As students in Ramsey’s study about the high school male choir cited above demonstrate. and Kanye West all represent various points on the masculinity spectrum). Queer Theory. “A Case Study of Boys’ Experiences of Singing in School” (Ph. Becoming a Voice of Social Change Choral conductor-teachers must trust and encourage their students as they construct their own unique male identities. Clare Hall. multifaceted experience of redefining masculinities through choral music in the twenty-first century and beyond. no. especially when discussing romantic texts. Terry Gates.” Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies 4. doi:10. YouTube stars. and careful choices about language will help model for these young singers a spectrum of masculinity. theatre. UK: Cambridge University Press. Conductor-teachers should choose gender pronouns carefully.AND MASCULINITY IN THE CHORAL CONTEXT visual. every teacher interacts with students who may be questioning their sexuality or gender identity/expression.” British Journal of Music Education 22. “The ‘Missing Males’ and Other Gender Issues in Music Education: Evidence from the ‘Music Supervisors’ Journal. lesbian.’ 1914-1924.3149/ CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 33 . This means that teachers must be aware of new social constructs and realize how the gender and social climates that students navigate today differs from what the teachers themselves may have experienced in school. dancers. Scott Harrison. the choice to say. no. 3 (1993): 212-32. no. or have already shared their gay. Choral music education can be part of a groundswell of social change. visual art.” International Journal of Music Education 29. inclusive language that honors those who identify outside the binary notion of gender can help transgender or gender variant students feel more at ease. 4 (2011): 318-32. Sports analogies could be balanced with jokes and also references to dance. Gender.” Journal of Research in Music Education 37. Lucy Green. “When you’re singing this phrase. Justin Timberlake. popular music. The words and actions of educators can send powerful messages to and have lasting influences on students. J. 2004). or television shows. 2002). 1997). 1 (April 1. and reality TV personalities who express the full range of behaviors in this ubiquitous experience of performing masculinity: (for example. no. film. “A Historical Comparison of Public Singing by American Men and Women. picture a person you think is really attractive” instead of. 2 Julia Eklund Koza. doi:10. “Gender and Boys’ Singing in Early Childhood. “When you’re singing this phrase.” Journal of Research in Music Education 41.D dissertation. The way to make sweeping social shifts is to begin with incremental change.2307/3345326.1017/ S0265051704005960. pretend you’re singing it to your beautiful girlfriend” can reveal to students that you (may) reject hegemonic and heteronormative assumptions. many boys are able to construct for themselves a unique (perhaps progressive) definition of masculinity. Adam Lambert. Adam Adler. Though it may seem like an insignificant detail.” say. Modeling a spectrum of masculinities through words and actions. geared toward different types of learners). Choral conductor-teachers can be part of a shift that shows male students that the most important thing is to be true to themselves and not to conform blindly to antiquated stereotypes. Similarly. “Let’s have the tenors and basses sing here. 3. “Boys on the Outer: Themes in Male Engagement with Music. doi:10. “The Construction of Male Gender Identity through Choir Singing at a Spanish Secondary School. 1 (2005): 5-20.

283. at the time of this writing.” ChorTeach 5. 54. 23 Adler and Harrison.” Gender and Education 7. Anne Fausto-Sterling. Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (Minneapolis. Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (New York. 22 Adam Adler and Scott Harrison. ed. 1992). “Gender and Boys’ Singing in Early Childhood. 6 Scott D. 144. Education.” 24 “National School Climate Survey” (PDF). Communicating Marginalized Masculinities: Identity Politics in TV. Michael Kehler.” Slate. 2004). 21 Frank et al. Jefferson Johnson. 4 I am reminded here of an apropos lyric from the musical Rent by Jonathan Larson: “The opposite of war isn’t peace. 2008). 2004). NY: Routledge. 3 (2013): 23-33. 69. “The Hidden Curriculum: Gender in the Classroom. Apple. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (New York. Robert Legg. Gender stereotypes appear as pervasive. doi:10.” Subverting Masculinity: Hegemonic and Alternative Versions of Masculinity in Contemporary Culture (Amsterdam. “Fighting Boys and Fantasy Play: The Construction of Masculinity in the Early Years of School. 1995).” in Research to Practice: A Biennial Series: Questioning the Music Education Paradigm. 4 (Summer 2013): 1-3. “Swinging Back the Gender Pendulum.’ and inevitable as ever” (97). ‘natural.” Educational Review 55. “A Tangle of Trouble: Boys. UK: Zed Books. Meyer. 11 Ellen Jordan. CA: Sage Publications.Choral (Milwaukee. “The What.” 16. and New Media (New York. no. Gender Theory.” Oxford Review of Education 15. Young Men and Masculinities: Global Cultures and Intimate Lives (London. 17 Elizabeth J. “The Discursive Production of the Male/female Dualism in School Settings. 2008). “Confused by All the New Facebook Genders? Here’s What They Mean. MN: University of Minnesota Press. 2 (2003): 120. Davies argues that in Western society masculinity and femininity are seen as being opposites and that people are expected to conform to one or the other. Things They Never Taught You in Choral Methods: A Choral Director’s Handbook (Milwaukee. “Swinging Back the Gender Pendulum: Addressing Boys’ Needs in Music Education Research and Practice.” in Praeger Guide to the Psychology of Gender.2012. CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. Accessed 2 July 2014. Facebook has more than fifty options for gender identity/expression. 2012).” The Phenomenon of Singing 6 (2013): 108-23.39. Kimmel. Harrison. 21 February 2014. Gender and Sexual Diversity in Schools: An Introduction (Springer Science & Business Media. ADOLESCENCE. Canadian Music Educators Association. Wilchins also wrote: “While the last thirty years have seen new rights granted to women. 33.slate. and Carol Allan. 7-26. The Netherlands: Rodopi. Michele Antoinette Paludi (Westport. 3. Transgender History.. org/nscs. 7 Judith Butler. Sing 6-7-8! . 16. “Fighting Boys and Fantasy Play. Knowledge. “Men. Seal Studies (Berkeley. 18 Jeffrey J. Roger Emerson. and transgender people. Russell West. Why. no. Bronwyn Davies. Susan Basow. For example. 1998). NY: Routledge. 2012). 19 Michael S. 10 Michael Warner. 1 (2010): 39. ON.” GEMS (Gender. WI: Hal Leonard. 16 Kristopher Wells. Bartel. “A Tangle of Trouble. and How of Young Adult Male Choirs. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. no.” Choral Journal 52. Kaja Silverman. ed. http://www. 1993). 2 (June 1. 1 (March 1995): 69-86. 10 (2012): 28-37. & Society) 6. Victor J. this new access and privilege 34 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 has still left issues of primary gender—of masculinity and femininity—remarkably untouched.” Music Education Research 15. “Role Playing and Teamwork in the Male Choir. Masculinity and Schooling-future Directions. (New York. Moshin. 4. GLSEN. “Snapshot Reflections: Targeting Young Boys Singing Girls’ Songs in School. no. p. 3 Andrew Crow. and Masculinity: Examining Patriarchy from within. “Reviewing the Situation: A Narrative Exploration of Singing and Gender in Secondary Schools. NY: Basic Books. Supporting Transgender and Transsexual Students in K-12 Schools: A Guide for Educators (Ottawa. Nancy Lesko (Thousand Oaks. L. because conductorteachers should bear in mind that the gender strictures of our society are specific and not “normal” or pervasive as some may think. 20 Ronald L. Male Subjectivity at the Margins (New York.” Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies 4.0401.” 5 Blye Frank. Nancy Smirl Jorgensen and Catherine Pfeiler. 13 Jordan.” in Masculinities at School. 2010). 1990). com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/02/21/gender_facebook_ now_has_56_categories_to_choose_from_including_cisgender. Queer Theory. CA: Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Trudy Lovell.. no. Miroslav Pavle Manovski. 3 (January 1989): 229-41. Seidler. no. 15 Wilchins. NY: Routledge. 2013): 168-79. doi:10. http://glsen. Kuzmic. gays.737774. 2000). 2000). Jackson II and Jamie E. Music.1080/14613808. the Market and Models of Masculinity in Contemporary Culture: Introduction. ed. Peter Weber. CA: Seal Press. many Indigenous communities have rich histories of multiple gender traditions. 2004). thy. “Boys on the Outer: Themes in Male Engagement with Music. xiv. 105. 2000). ON. . and users may choose multiple words or phrases to describe themselves. NY: Routledge. and Kevin Davidson. 117-31. “Gender roles can change with time and may be different from one culture to another. WI: Hal Leonard.” 125. no." 14 Michael W.” This is an important point. it’s creation. 2006). no. André-Louis Heywood and Carol Beynon. (Toronto. Film.1080/713668458 12 Hall. 9 Susan Stryker. 8 Butler. Ideology and Curriculum (New York. Gender Trouble. 25 As an example. NY: Harper Collins. “Textbooks.G E N D E R T R O U B L E : MALES. 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2010): 15-21. no.” Choral Journal 46. 34 Adler and Harrison.” 41 Harrison. no.” 285. 35 Andrea L. “A Perennial Problem in Gendered Participation in Music: What’s Happening to the Boys?. 1 (2010): 15-21. Steven M. 32 Harrison. and Brotherhood: Explorations of Lived Experiences in a High School Men’s Chorus” (PhD dissertation. 50 Patricia O’Toole. 55 Demorest. Emphasis in original. “Swinging Back the Gender Pendulum. no. 39 CHORAL JOURNAL Volume 56 Number 4 35 . no..” Choral Journal 52. 43 Koza. Dallas.” The Quarterly Journal of Music Teaching and Learning 4–5. 47 Bergonzi. 36 Ibid. “Where’s the Evidence? Finding Support for Separating Middle and Junior High School Choirs by Gender. “Engaging Boys: Overcoming Stereotypes-Another Look at the Missing Males in Vocal Programs. Matt Cochrane. emphasis added. 1 (2015): 88-102. “The ‘Missing Males’ and Other Gender Issues in Music Education. J. “Should I Be Singing This. Harrison. 2004). “Snapshot Reflections: Targeting Young Boys Singing Girls’ Songs in School. University Park. 1 (November 1.” GEMS (Gender. “Boys on the Outer. 40 Demorest.” 49-50. Zemek. “Slappers Who Gouge Your Eyes: Vocal Performance as Exemplification of Disturbing Inertia in Gender Equality. Roberts. 37 Ibid. ed. Susan Kuklin. no.” Update: Applications of Research in Music Education 29.” Choral Journal 52. 30 Scott D. no.. MA: Candlewick. University of Southern California. “I’m Only in Women’s Chorus: A Need for Positive Image Building. 3 (2007): 267-80. and Allan.” 45 Harrison.” Music Education Research 17. “‘I Could Sing Tenor’: Options. Education.” 42 Kenneth Elpus. Gentlemanliness. TX. 3 (2013): 29. & Society) 6. 13 March 2013). “National Estimates of Male and Female Enrolment in American High School Choirs.” 44 Adler and Harrison. 52 Michael D. no. “Two Decades of Research on Possible Selves and the ‘Missing Males’ Problem in Choral Music”.” Journal of Teacher Education 60. 54 Referring to and use of professional recordings by groups like the King’s Singers and Chanticleer. Freer. Demorest. doi:10. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak out (Somerville. 27 Kathleen E. 4 (2009): 419–31. Nancy Smirl Jorgensen and Catherine Pfeiler. “Encouraging Male Participation in Chorus.1177/0027432109350929. “Real Men Sing. 5 (1998): 9-32.Choral. and Homophobia in College Choral Methods Texts.” in Applying Theory to Educational Research: An Introductory Approach with Case Studies. Patrick K. Ramsey.’ 1914-1924”. Harrison.” 48 Emerson. male choruses that sing SATB repertoire. UT.” British Journal of Music Education 24. Sing 6-7-8! . no.” Choral Journal 39. 33 Randi Sue Carp. no. “A Perennial Problem in Gendered Participation in Music”. and Linda Donne (Chichester. no. “Transgender Choral Voices” (Feminist Theory & Music 10: Improvising and Galvanizing. 38 Julia Eklund Koza. 2012). “Considering Transgender People in Education: A Gender-Complex A pproach. Paul Caldwell and Joshua Palkki. Music. Attitudes and Practices: A Survey of Southern California High School Choir Directors” (DMA dissertation. “Boys on the Outer. 28 Miroslav Pavle Manovski. “Where’s the Evidence? Finding Support for Separating Middle and Junior High School Choirs by Gender. “The ‘Missing Males’ and Other Gender Issues in Music Education: Evidence from the ‘Music Supervisors’ Journal. 2 (December 2009): 21-25. doi:10. “Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom” (American Choral Directors Association National Conference. 2014). Salt Lake City. “Swinging Back the Gender Pendulum. “A Missing Chapter from Choral Methods Books: How Choirs Neglect Girls. 46 Martin Ashley.” Choral Journal 45. 5 (2008): 36-40. Greensboro. Ramsey. 172. 56 Mark Lucas. “Swagger. 31 See Scott D. Zemek. Michele Edwards. 2013)... 29 Louis Bergonzi. 51 Dee Gauthier.” Music Educators Journal 86. “Big Boys Don’t Cry (or Sing): Gender.” 41. Michigan State University. Jeff Adams. 10 (2012): 8-17. and If So. no. 49 Andrea L. 9 (2012): 42-48. How High?: Theoretical Approaches to Boyhood and Masculinity. can be helpful in demonstrating to students that vocal range and gender and not inextricably linked. Choral Repertoire. 1 (2010): 60. 2015). “Sexual Orientation and Music Education: Continuing a Tradition. doi:10. “Encouraging Male Participation in Chorus.” Music Educators Journal 96. no. “Sexual Orientation and Music Education: Continuing a Tradition.” Gender and Education 22. 2 (2004): 26.1177/8755123310378451. “Single Gender Choral Ensembles. no. “Middle School R & S Session: Composers Roundtable” (American Choral Directors Association National Conference. 14. 2 (2005): 42-47. Jacob Berglin.AND MASCULINITY IN THE CHORAL CONTEXT html (accessed 26 April 2014). no. Rands. Harrison. UK: John Wiley & Sons.1177/0022487109341475. Misogyny. 4 (2000): 38-41. 53 Martin Ashley. NC. 4–1 26 (1993): 48. 10 October 2014). Michael D.” 39. Patrick K. CIC Music Education Conference. PA. 2009). Outcomes. 205. 145-55. and Perceptions of a Transgender Student in a High School Choral Music Program” (Poster Presentation. no. “Successful Single-Sex Offerings in the Choral Department. 16. Koza.” Update: Applications of Research in Music Education 29. Supporting Transgender and Transsexual Students in K-12 Schools. “Encouraging Male Participation in Chorus.” Music Educators Journal 94. Wells. Bands and Orchestras. Freer. “The Successful Transition and Retention of Boys from Middle School to High School Choral Music. no. “Boys on the Outer.