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A WHOLE NEW WORLD?

GENDER IN THE CHORAL CLASSROOM

Have a gender scenario or question?


Please write it on the note cards going around!

Joshua Palkki & Billy Sauerland


California All-State Music Education Conference
Friday, February 17, 2017
HAVE A GENDER SCENARIO OR
QUESTION?

PLEASE WRITE IT ON THE NOTE


CARDS GOING AROUND!
INTRODUCTIONS &
SESSION OVERVIEW
Session Guidelines

Questions/Scenarios to Consider

Definitions for Common Ground

What does the Research Say?

Vocal Health/Pedagogy

Non-Musical Considerations

Questions/Scenarios from the Audience / Q & A


SESSION GUIDELINES
This is a Safe Space

No shaming/[gender] language police

Foster Empathetic Listening

Were All Learners

Speak from the I Perspective (we all have lenses)


TO CONSIDER
How much should we avoid gendered language?

Can choral music in schools foster an education of


social justice?

What does inclusive programming mean?

In what ways do gender dynamics and stereotypes


present themselves in the choral classroom?
DEFINITIONS FOR
COMMON GROUND
Sex Gender
Gender Identity/
Sexuality
Expression
Gender Binary
...gender is a
performance with
Gender Roles/
clearly punitive
consequences...those
Norms/
who fail to do their
Stereotypes
gender right are
regularly punished
(Butler, 2003, p. 417)
GENDER
Gender is a socially constructed concept imposing
hegemonic influences on roles, expectations, and behaviors
of biologically male and female bodies (Butler, 1990; West &
Zimmerman, 1987).

Gender identity revolves around visible cues of ones body


or behavior, including mannerisms, clothing, hairstyle, voice,
speech patterns, and social groups, among others.

Legal, religious, and cultural practices enforce the submission


of individuals to identify within the binary male/female
gender schema (Connell, 2002).
GREAT, BUT WHAT DOES THIS
MEAN FOR TEACHERS?
RESEARCH INDICATES THAT
transgender (trans) people are coming out earlier
than ever before.

Beemyn & Rankin, 2011 (N = 3,474): The majority of


respondents in the survey reported feeling different by
the age of 12.

Grossman and DAugelli (2006) interviewed w/ 24 trans


youth. Seventy five percent of the respondents
reported disclosing their gender identity to their
teachersa larger percentage than disclosed to their
parents (66%) or grandparents (50%).
WHAT HAS CHORAL SCHOLARSHIP
SAID ABOUT GENDER?
Males Singing/Recruitment of Males

Freer, 2007, 2010, 2012

Demorest, 2000

Harrison, 2004

Harrison, Welch, and Adler, 2012

Warzecha, 2013

Defense of Girls

OToole, 1994, 1998

Gauthier, 2005
WHAT HAS MUSIC RESEARCH SAID
SO FAR ABOUT GENDER?
Instruments and Gender: Studied continually since the 1970s

Studies on Choir and Gender

Many studies on males and singing

e.g., Abrahams, 2012; Freer, 2009; Gates, 1989; Harrison, 2007, 2010;
Kennedy, 2002; Koza, 1993a, 1993b; Legg, 2013; Manovski, 2013
Gendered participation in music

From Harrison, 2007:


Feminine Masculine
I ______ I ______ I ______ I ______ I ______ I ______ I ______ I ______ I ______I
flute clarinet singing violin cello saxophone guitar trumpet trombone drums

Fig. 1 Masculinefeminine continuum of instrument choice.


WHAT HAS MUSIC RESEARCH
SAID SO FAR ABOUT GENDER?
Nichols (2013): First published music education study about
a transgender student

Rie/Ryans school was unprepared for [the] presence


of a trans student:

Rie rejects the notion that her sense of safety stemmed


from any conscious effort on the part of her music
teachers. According to Rie, the band and choir teachers
never brought [my gender expression] up
WHAT HAS MUSIC RESEARCH SAID SO FAR
ABOUT GENDER?
More studies about trans issues in music education:

Berglin, 2014 Trans HS choral student

Bartolome, 2016 Trans preservice teacher

Edidi & Palkki, 2016 Trans Woman of Color

Palkki, 2016 3 trans HS choral students

Silveira & Goff, 2016 Survey Study gauging attitudes of music educators
about teaching trans students

Steele, 2016 Trans college choral students

Sweet & Bergonzi, 2016 Exploring the voice change with adolescents using a
trans vocal perspective
OUR PURPOSE
Bergonzi, 2009 Music Educators Journal

Music Education and Sexuality

Heterosexual privilege
This slide was Jakes idea when he and
I did the session in Michigan. Not sure
What does gender variance look like in a Bergonzi-like framework?
we need it but something along these
lines might be helpful- especially the
stu in the notes about masculinity/

What does one take for granted as a straight choral director?

What does one take for granted as a cisgender choral director?

Where is the discussion about gender?

Masculinity/femininity in choir

Palkki & Caldwell (in press)


TRANSGENDER STUDENTS
IN CHOIR
Vocal Pedagogy and
Health Issues

Musical Issues

Non-Musical/Social
Issues
TRANS VOCAL HEALTH &
PEDAGOGY
MUSICAL CONSIDERATIONS
TRANSGENDER STUDENTS
AND MUSICAL ISSUES
Language in Rehearsal

e.g., Men and Women/Boys and Girls

Standing Formations

Voice Parts and Identity

Taylor

Sara and Jon (Palkki dissertation participants)


SARA
Im a girl and Im a bass and I own that. It
makes me unique in the scope as faras wide as
[State Choral Organization] as a whole. Much
earlier on in my transition, two, three years ago I
thought, well, Im not supposed to like this, but
since the whole honors choir thing has happened
its become my signature and its something that
Im proud of. (Interview #2, 5/4/15)
SARA
On Seating:

Sara: Basses, Sopranos, Altos,Tenors.

Joshua: So its in blocks?

Sara: Yeah, and Im just always on the edge between basses


and sopranos, and that was the same in honors choir.

Joshua: And that works fairly well?

Sara: Yeah. (Interview #1, 4/23/15)


JON
Dr. Endroth [my voice therapist] said that I need to
bring up my voice an octave. So I work on it. And Ive
tried to bring it up in school and bring it up at home, but
when you go out places, its hard. Because I already look
like Im twelve. So as much as Dr. Endroth is like, that
doesnt define your gender: your voice doesnt define your
gender. Of course it defines your gender. So, its hard.
But I know that I need to, so I try to and its obviously a
lot easier and helpfulbeneficial
JON
I dont think Id be as strong or as confident of a singer if I
didnt sing a male voice part. I really think it gives me
confidence to be able to sing and to want to sing. I dont think
Id want to sing if I was still an alto. But, you know, even just my
speaking voice, I think it makes me more comfortable when
Im out and about. Especially if Im with a group of guys that I
dont know. Its a grrrr [growling sound] thing. So, theres
definitely a correlation and a connection. As much as theres no
connection and it doesnt define who you are or define you, its
the same as how I dress or how I wear my hair. Its an
appearance aspect of myself.(Interview #4, 11/17/15)
TRANSGENDER STUDENTS
AND MUSICAL ISSUES
Literature/Texts

Cisgender-centric

Heteronormative

Choral Program Structure

Gendered choirs?
NON-MUSICAL
CONSIDERATIONS
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
RECOMMENDATIONS
(a) not discriminate against trans students and take steps to prevent
[discrimination],

(b) treat trans students in keeping with their gender identity, which
includes giving access to the appropriate gendered bathroom,
changing room, and overnight accommodation;

(c) [use] the name and pronouns used by the student; and [allow]
them to dress in accordance with their gender identity, and

(d) keep a students trans status, birth name, and gender assignment
at birth confidential.

--Genny Beemyn, personal communication, 7/27/16.
Caveat:
New Administration,
New Policies
2/15/2017 Trump Drops Defense of Obama Guidelines on Transgender Students - The New York Times

https://nyti.ms/2kxH36S

POLITICS

Trump Drops Defense of Obama


Guidelines on Transgender Students
By LIAM STACK FEB. 11, 2017
A nationwide injunction that has kept transgender students from using school
bathrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity will remain
in place after the Trump administration decided not to challenge it in court. The
move, announced Friday, ended an effort mounted by the Obama administration
PRONOUNS/NAME
CHANGE
Idea: Ask students to identify their chosen
pronouns and name on the first day of classes
(may be best to do this in private).

Gender-neutral pronouns:

singular they: they/them/their

ze hir (as opposed to he/she, hers/his)


TRANSGENDER STUDENTS
AND NON-MUSICAL ISSUES
Room Arrangements on Class Trips

Uniforms

Pronouns

Rosters

Programs
LARGER ISSUES OF GENDER
Binary to Ternary - Problem Solved?

What does masculinity look like in our


choirs?

What does femininity look like in our


choirs?
Trans people are not monolithic, and, when it comes
to issues of voice and gender, there are no one-size-
fits-all solutions. Some trans singers may revel in
the fact that their voice does not match societys
notions of how their voice should sound. Some trans
people, however, consider the voice a vital way
that they do their gender in society. Choral music
educators can determine through conversation the
level of connection, if any, between a trans
students voice and gender identity (Palkki,
forthcoming Choral Journal article).
(a)

Gender
Voice
Identity

(c)
(b)
Gender
Identity
Gender Voice
Voice
Identity
Recommendations for teachers (these assume that
the choir teacher knows that they have a trans
student):

(1) speak with the student and ask about their name
and pronouns

(2) inquire about the status of the legal name


change

(3) ask to whom the student is out at home and at


school so as to not inadvertently disclose their
gender identity
DISCUSSION OF YOUR
QUESTIONS/SCENARIOS
We both welcome
further dialogue!
Thank you for coming.
Joshua Palkki, PhD
California State University, Long Beach
joshua.palkki@csulb.edu
www.joshpalkki.com

Billy Sauerland
Chabot College
Teachers College, Columbia University
wmopera@yahoo.com