We’ve made some comments in the past about the huge percentage difference between male and female musicians playing in clubs, at weddings, festivals, parties, events, in short, anywhere live music is performed  But literally less than 5% of these bands contain a female guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist or horn player, and yet there are 50% (or even more), females playing in orchestras and marching bands.  How can there be such a huge difference?  WHY is this?

Just look at any small community orchestra or large city pro orchestra.  There seems to be about the same number of male and female players, totally different from the bands just mentioned.  Now look at the individual instruments, and usually even more than half of the violinists are female.  Why?  And look at the brass players – how often do you see a female?  Does it take more manly-breath power to blow a tuba?  Of course not, so why isn’t the ratio about the same?

How rare is a female tympanist?  Does it take a stronger arm to hit the drum?  And to flip the coin, when is the last time you saw a male harpist?  Can’t they move their fingers just as well as a female?  Seen any big city orchestra female conductors lately?  Is gender inequality working both ways? I just don’t see why there should be any difference between what instrument is being played and what gender is playing it.

Take a look at college marching bands.  Again, it seems about half of all the players are female, except maybe the drummers.  (ok, maybe Sousaphones are too heavy for some females….).  What happens to all of these females after college?  So few go on to continue performing, even if it’s just part time.  Ask most band leaders and they will confirm that they would love to have a female or two in their group because it makes them more versitile and probably gives them a better shot at more gigs.  This situation has been the same for years, so it always amazes me as to why there aren’t more female players available to join bands.

My best friend always tells me that I “live in a state of constant wonderment”. There are plenty of short people in the world, so if I wonder “why aren’t there more short people playing pro basketball” the answer is obvious!  But when it comes to musicians and the instruments they play, why should it make any difference as to who is male and who is female?

I can’t figure it out.  Can you?