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Chris Hamilton
10-06-2004, 11:23 AM
... that there is still a lot of subtle (or not-so-subtle) bias against female pipers? I still sometimes encounter disparaging remarks about them being unable to blow tone or play up there with the "big boys".

I was taught by a female piper for the first seven years, and I'm sure I wouldn't be a tenth the player I am today without the solid grounding she gave me. I also regularly hear and teach excellent female players.

I don't know ... I'm surprised I still hear the "chicks can't pipe" attitude.

Chris

Celtic Mitch
10-06-2004, 12:50 PM
Chris, back in the good 'ole days, they couldn't drum either! My first drumming teacher was female also. When I graduated up into the competition world I had a heck of a time convincing a couple of guys in the side corps that I was good enough to play beside them.

Many, many times I was blamed for mistakes and cut because of the mistakes...that were not made by me. Only years later did I have a long chat with my lead tip at the time and he told me he knew it wasn't me and was trying to catch out who it was...but he never did. Not because he wasn't observant, but because the mistakes were probably made on purpose. Weird eh?

HotScot
10-06-2004, 01:18 PM
Chris, when I go to workshops, sometimes I feel some negativity towards me by some of the teachers. Some are absolutely great (Bruce Gandy), others are just downright mean. One teacher kept telling me how much faster the teenage boys were picking up the material (I'm 50 for Pete's sake). Sometimes, I feel the judge's critiqued me differently, maybe not just because I'm a female, but an older female, in addition (double strike). I got used to it after a while, but I do resent it some. I'm a physician. When I was in training, I had to work longer & act "smarter" than the men, just to stand my ground. I rose to the top, but I can't say I'm not resentful over it. Piping is a hobby, intended to be fun. Especially when you're paying to be at a workshop, you don't need the old stereotypical male attitude that women don't belong there. It's funny, I also quilt, & when I go to a quilt workshop and there's a sole male in attendance, all the women "embrace" them & encourage them. I guess we don't feel threatened by a male in attendance. :D

Chris Hamilton
10-06-2004, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by Elaine:
... It's funny, I also quilt, & when I go to a quilt workshop and there's a sole male in attendance, all the women "embrace" them & encourage them. My first job out of college was as a secretary with the Federal Highway Administration (tough job market that year!). I was, of course, the only male secretary amongst 10 ladies, most of them old enough to be my mother. I was a pampered guy. :D

Chris

Love2Drum
10-06-2004, 04:08 PM
I think there is still a bias, both subtle and not-so-subtle. I feel that way everytime someone who doesn't know me see's me in my kilt and says "oh, you must be the dancer". Comments like that tell me because I'm the woman in the group, I can't possibly be a piper or drummer, therefore I'm a dancer (something that's seen as typically female).

The times I've been asked that and I reply "no, I'm the drummer", I've been rewarded with a raised eyebrow and an "oh", as they walk away.

Its irritating, but I try not to let it get to me. But I'm lucky in that my band is very open to everybody. When I first joined, our bass and midsection was all female and the entire snare line except for our drum sergeant was female. That poor guy had the task of dealing with an almost-all-female corps!

Chief47
10-06-2004, 05:13 PM
What surprises me is that this is a ladies forum and here we men are. Are we worried that the ladies will say something about us? Come on girls, give us something to think about. Watch out ladies, we're lurking in the background.

Chief

piper2b
10-06-2004, 08:37 PM
I'm a female drummer in our pipe band and when people see me in my kilt, sans drum, they ask why I'm dressed that way. When I tell them I'm a drummer they seem more interested and usually start asking lots of questions about the pipe band. When we play for the public lots of children come up to me first -- I figured I was more their size and as a female, more approachable. (Okay, and maybe 'cause I'm usually grinning ear to ear because playing in a pipe band is a BLAST!!!)

piper2b
10-06-2004, 08:40 PM
Originally posted by Chris Hamilton:
... that there is still a lot of subtle (or not-so-subtle) bias against female pipers? I still sometimes encounter disparaging remarks about them being unable to blow tone or play up there with the "big boys".Chris Does anyone have a guesstimate of how many women play pipes at the highest levels?

HotScot
10-07-2004, 09:30 AM
I just want everyone to know that in my post (edited by ChickaDee) I did not name any names (as is implied by the editing). I wouldn't do that- I don't want to burn any bridges. :rolleyes:

HotScot
10-07-2004, 09:39 AM
How about some of those great grade I bands that still won't let women join? :eek:

Celtic Mitch
10-07-2004, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by Elaine:
How about some of those great grade I bands that still won't let women join? :eek: Like who Elaine? Unless they are a military organization that is a men's unit only, I don't think I know of any that don't allow women these days. There was one once back in the dark ages in Ontario, but they saw the light and no longer exist. Coincidence? :shrug:

ChickaDee
10-07-2004, 10:27 AM
Originally posted by Elaine:
I just want everyone to know that in my post (edited by ChickaDee) I did not name any names (as is implied by the editing). That is correct; Elaine did not name specific individuals. I can see where the edit might imply that and want to set the record straight.

HotScot
10-07-2004, 01:48 PM
Scottish Power, for one, doesn't let women in.

uncle Mario Tomasone
10-07-2004, 02:30 PM
Sue'em!

uncle Mario Tomasone
10-07-2004, 02:34 PM
Naaah.. Just kidding.

Yes, some can be biased, some environment can be hostile, some band can't even consider the idea of having famale players.

But it will come!

See how far we have gone compared to the pipe band/pipe world scene in the 70's!

And you know what?
This forum could also be of good help in this sense.

Mike Szarka
10-07-2004, 02:41 PM
Originally posted by piper2b:
Does anyone have a guesstimate of how many women play pipes at the highest levels? I'll hazard a guess that women make up about 10% of Grade 1 band players. That is, most pipe sections will have one or two women.

As far as accusing any particular band of not letting women in, those sorts of allegations are very difficult to prove. I have a lot of doubt that any competitive band would turn down a really good female piper.

Mike

Mike Szarka
10-07-2004, 03:10 PM
PS Like Chris H, a lot of my most valuable personal instruction was from a woman (Gail Brown).

Mike

Chris Hamilton
10-07-2004, 03:55 PM
If Mike is "naming names", I should mention that Joyce McIntosh (formerly Joyce MacFarlane) was my teacher - she was 16 years old, I was 10 years old and her first student. Worked out pretty well!

Chris

Auburn
10-08-2004, 05:08 PM
I myself have started lots of young kids out and two of my "big boys" are now playing at the Gr. II level. Funny thing is, I was given the job of starting the kids out on the chanter because I was a patient teacher and liked kids, but *mostly* so the guys could go for a beer for that extra hour on practice nights. (Dislcaimer: I am by no means Gail calibre.) Once the beginners in my lesson group got to "serious" levels, the PM stepped in and taught them from there.

On the topic of keeping females out of bands, I know of at least one Ontario competitive band that employs a complicated "audition" process just so they can keep females out. (I've heard them claim it is for blowing reasons.) I like to see them beat on Games days by their competitors (bands who allow female players in) ...

ChickaDee
10-08-2004, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by RebusFan:
Once the beginners in my lesson group got to "serious" levels, the PM stepped in and taught them from there.

Our PM participates in teaching pipers at all levels but I always considered it a form of compliment when he asked someone else to help with beginners. A good foundation is essential, in my opinion. We all know what can happen when someone receives poor instruction. Usually those 'pipers' are the ones that go off piping for everyone to enjoy :rolleyes: (ie adds validation to jokes slagging bagpipes) OR they become a frustrated piper who has to unlearn bad habits.

Auburn
10-09-2004, 06:27 AM
Yeah, I like to teach and I enjoy the kids, so I was flattered. But the bias that appears against females later on still really bothers me, and this particular band did nothing to deter it, even though they took advantage of me as a teacher, player, driver, organizer, band manager, etc. while I was with them. Some of the older guys don't even think about it, though, I'm sure, because "that is how pipe bands are". I did feel valued with them, which is good. Once I moved up into more competition (with another band) it got more cut-throat. It is good to reflect on this stuff. Thanks Dee and Bob and Alison again.

heathermacisaac
10-13-2004, 06:48 PM
thanks for sticking up for us chris. personally, I think the girls in our band prove the misconception that girls can't blow tone wrong. With a girl in the front rank and a girl in the corner... and 3 other female pipers in the grade 1 corp i think we should form our own grade 1 quintet (who needs the guys in the band :wink: ) by the way chris I have a some pictures of charles dickens you'd probably like to see......i'll scan em' and send em' when i get a chance (and one for justin too)

Chris Hamilton
10-13-2004, 07:43 PM
Love to see the photos, Heather!

Those Halifax gurls won the Fort Erie contest last year then charmed a few COW boys in the beer tent and I went home sans band tie. Quartermaster was not pleased ...

Chris

Ashleigh Weeden
10-13-2004, 08:00 PM
The funny thing about the whole "subtle and not-so-subtle" bias against female players is that maybe it's pushed some of us to blow a bigger pipe, have more solid tone, have cleaner fingers and just all around push ourselves harder to reach the elusive 'next highest rung' on the competitive and social ladders.

I know that's definitely the case with myself! But that's mostly because I HATE being told I can't do something, whether it's by a male or a female!

I've also had a series of strong female role models in the immediate 'Ontario circuit' and within the various bands I've played with. Add in some extremely amazing role models among the 'big boys' and I don't think I could've had a more encouraging environment!

A bunch of my girl friends who play pipes and drums and I have decided a "Barbie Pipe Band" is in order! Bring on a super sponsorship and pink kilts! :D

Slainte!
Ashleigh

King Rat
10-17-2004, 08:40 AM
Maybe I was brought up in a different generation, but I have never understood why people should even possess the "chicks can't pipe" kind of mindset. Most of us would not raise an eyebrow about having a female pianist, violinist, harpist, flautist etc winning competitions, so why should there even be an impression that female pipers cannot be as good as their male counterparts?

I heard that in Vancouver, even as late as in the 1960's, being a female piper was unthinkable.

Surprisingly, during the same period, there was an all-girls pipe band in Singapore where I came from.

Personally, I have never encountered the discriminatory attitude against female pipers, at least not within my circles. At present day, anyone who continues to somehow treat female pipers as "inferior" in any way, would strike me as being one who is not only bigoted, but also very dumb and ignorant.

Javier
10-17-2004, 10:09 AM
I also truly cannot understand this attitude. It's kinda like the KKK - a bunch of rednecks who can't hold a job or their own teeth, telling a black lawyer or doctor that he's inferior. :confused:

I was quite surprised by these threads, as I didn't even realize there WAS prejudice against lady pipers. I've been in two bands in which pivotal positions were held by ladies, and never saw any sign of gender resentment.

To all those bigots who feel this way: :bleh: :bleh: :bleh: AND :mad:

Donald Ross
10-17-2004, 07:25 PM
Out here in the B.C., Washington, Oregon area, this is literally a thing of the past, collectively speaking. There may be individuals who still have a problem, but by and large, we all just want to get the band as hot as we can by May and beat the snot out of the competition all summer long. Nobody seems to care who is in the circle toward that end. Young, old, men, women, jeez we would let a crocodile in the bad if it could blow steady and get it's appendages around the music at a good tempo.

In the lower and upper amateur grade solos, I'd say boys and girls are about 50%-50% in the prize lists. Many years, females have dominated their grade (reference the success of the Dunsires or Jessica Ibach). Assuming many of these young women progress as they have, there will be many females in grade one bands from around here in about 5 more years and there are some already.

I would say the only thing limiting this would be their lives changing to the point where they had to put it down for awhile (college, new marriage, kids, etc). In our band, we just had a top grade piper come and join us after a few years off to bring her bairns into the world. She is a solid piper and we were all thrilled to have her in the circle as she can show many of us a thing or two about music. I'm sorry you can't all live in such an environment, but maybe in time...

the fishiologist
10-26-2004, 06:59 PM
when I was getting back into piping, I approached a local beer band about joining them - the guy I talked to was great! he said that he'd love to have me join, but that most of the other guys wouldn't feel that way.. to his credit, he hooked me up with triumph street and I couldn't be happier. the other band is still guys only I believe.