Sunday, 17 April 2016

Why Don't More Girls Play the Drums?

by Rebecca Pascoe
Sheila E

Drumming, as both a profession and a hobby, is seen as a male-domiated sector. Is this because drums are not seen as a 'feminine' instrument, such as more classical instruments like the harp or the flute, or perhaps because of the size and misconception of the need for physical strength to play?

It is clear that within the music industry there are gender stereotypes on certain instruments, with the top instruments for girls being the harp, flute, voice and oboe, as opposed to boys, who opt for the electric guitar and the drums. If we are thinking about the size of the instrument as being offputting to girls, this doesn't add up, as the harp is extremely popular for females yet is one of the biggest instruments. Therefore, there must be some other reason. 

As drumming is seen by so many as masculine, this could instil in girls from a young age that they shouldn't be playing it or wouldn't be able to, in addition to the lack of role models for girls in this industry. Despite this, there is no need for excessive strength to play; all that is really needed is rhythm and good co-ordination, of which neither gender is superior. 

Samantha Maloney
It seems that generally women gravitate towards instruments which provide softer sounds and melodies, whereas men feel as if a louder and more powerful instrument can somehow exert dominance. But for the women who wish to break out of this gender stereotype, some may feel uncomfortable or even unable to take part as the stereotype is so deeply ingrained in us that we don't feel able to think in any other way. 

This isn't just for women, though; there is also a lack of men taking up instruments such as the harp for example. Singing doesn't seem to have a particular gender bias, so why should these instruments simply because of their size or pitch?

Despite this, there are women drummers in the industry, although they are a minority (myself included). There is no indication that they are any worse than the male drummers in the music industry. However, as they are outnumbered, this is the common thinking. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of the top three female drummers who have successfully broken out of this stereotype:

(1) Moe Tucker was the drummer from The Velvet Undeground and played, standing up, with mallets instead of sticks, showing her unusual style. 

(2) Samantha Maloney played with many rock bands, a few being Motley Crue and Eagles of Death Metal, who were recently in the news as their Paris gig was subject to a terrorist attack, proving that there is no disadvantage to women who wish to play 'masculine' music. 

(3) Sheila E is a Grammy-nominated drummer, who has worked with an impressive list of musicians that includes Kanye West, Prince and Lionel Richie. She ranks extremely highly as one of the best funk drummers of all time - male or female. 

This is clear evidence that the drums can be an instrument for both men and women; girls and boys should be encouraged to try any instrument from a young age, which they may have avoided due to gender stereotyping. 

Girls, there is no reason why you couldn't be the next great drummer; it's an ideal way to get involved in music and every band needs a drummer - so why not you?

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