View Full Version : Bias against female beginners?
10-06-2004, 10:32 AM
I have been watching the debate regarding this forum and I am very happy to see it up and running now. I know there are probably a lot of things that women want to discuss here but someone has to get it started and it looks like I will be the first.
Have any of you ladies ever noticed male band members acting differently around beginner female students than with male beginners? Saying things that will discourage them, talking down to them, giving them music that is too difficult for a beginner, getting impatient if she needs help, or even being downright unfriendly? I'm sure this is not something that happens a whole lot within pipe bands but I have seen it happen and have heard of it happening in other bands too. On the other hand, when there is a male beginner he is warmly welcomed and is given lots of extra help and attention by other guys in the band.
Assuming that none of the women in the band are really qualified to help the new ladies, how should this be handled?
10-06-2004, 11:48 AM
Originally posted by Aisling:
Have any of you ladies ever noticed male band members acting differently around beginner female students than with male beginners? Saying things that will discourage them, talking down to them, giving them music that is too difficult for a beginner, getting impatient if she needs help, or even being downright unfriendly?It doesn't happen a lot with me because my band was quite welcoming when I came. :wink:
However, I did have my fair share of troubles when I did start out. I was (at the time) the only female learning any drum and I felt extremely pressured by the instructor (who was a male) and pressured overall because I was the only female beginning drummer and I felt I had to be as good as the male beginning drummers. :bleh:
There have been a few rough spots here and there, but the other ladies in the band were quite friendly and we managed to get along great! :D
I wouldn't have much say as to how to solve this problem, as some males, especially when they have seniority over women will not listen to us and will look down on us if we voice our opinion. :confused:
All you can do is be the best that you can and work with it is my philosophy.
I have not noticed any problems being a female piper in my band (we have several). :shrug: His reasoning is that the snare is too heavy. HUH? Is a snare heavier than the bass? I don't get it.
10-06-2004, 12:09 PM
I used to play with this "street band". It was run by a bunch of older men & they really did their best to run me off. They ran all the women off, eventually, I was the last left(see beer tent under "venting"). After manhandling my chanter reed, repeatedly, the eventually ran me off, too (and I arranged a lot of their gigs for them). Oh, well, life is too short to not enjoy what you do, so I quit. They were very chauvenistic, and I ignored their behavior for a long time. When I quit, I took my drummer husband, and piping son, with me. The band's loss, not mine. We have our own mini band, already. We play with another band, now. :banana:
10-06-2004, 12:18 PM
Men tend to confuse good tone with blowing a hard reed. That's a very uneducated view ... and a cop-out.
I'm the P/M of a band with several ladies of small stature, I consider it my responsibility to set their chanter to tune with the band at their blowing strength comfort level.
10-06-2004, 01:12 PM
There are so few pipers/drummers in this neck of the woods that anyone breathing with a pulse is welcome!! :thumb: Our PM is very encouraging to all wanting to join the band. He kinda sets the tone so overall, we (women) have a pretty good set-up here. We just need more of us!!
What I have experienced is the disappointment (and sense of failure) when handed a reed, told "this reed is so easy I could play it with my nose" only to discover I can barely get it to squeak.....forget playing a tune! Yup- my PM sands/shaves/gouges (okay..just one :lol: ) reeds but it does make me feel like I'm a "wimp" when I can't play plywood reeds!!
10-06-2004, 01:20 PM
Yeah, we did once have a P/M that didn't like female pipers. . . the ironic thing was that she was a woman! :eek: :shrug:
10-06-2004, 01:41 PM
Originally posted by Elaine:
After manhandling my chanter reed....
When I quit, I took my drummer husband, and piping son, with me. The band's loss, not mine. I read your post on this in the beer tent, Elaine. PM or not.....no one should "grab" your chanter from your hands....even IF it's band issued, IMHO. That seems insulting to me. If you'd have been a 350lb body builder, would this person still have done this? I think not but IF yes, would anyone present have blamed you if you'd delivered a quick thump to his nose for invading your personal space??
Do I think the pipe major (or whoever sets up band reeds) deserves respect and the right to adjust the reeds.....yup!! But I see nothing wrong with requesting I be the one to take the chanter out and hand it over to them. As far as the chanter reed and not wanting anyone else to touch it....I think it might be a little unreasonable to prohibit the PM (designated person). You are part of the band and well.....part of a team. We have a 'pet' name for one of our pipers......."Reed Killer" :lol: :lol: :lol: What was even funnier was it was the PM reed!!!
It sounds like you (hubby and son) are better off without the old band!!
Will pipe for Guinness
10-06-2004, 01:46 PM
I can definitely say I've seen what you're describing Aisling!! Until now I've thought I was just being paranoid!!
10-06-2004, 02:03 PM
I guess I should have gone farther and explained that in my band there is one particular person in charge of teaching beginner adults. He is very condecending towards women in general but even worse with women pipers. We have had women show up for a lesson or two and then never hear from them again. My guess is that they were talked down to or intimidated to the point they did not want to come back. I got the same treatment from him when I first started but managed to stick with it anyway.
For various reasons I won't mention here, there isn't much that can be done about removing this person as an "instructor". And since the beginners are taught on a different night than our band practices, none of the other women in the band gets to meet the new beginners.
10-06-2004, 02:05 PM
I may regret this, but I'm gonna say it anyway. :eek:
I must admit that as the instructor for the beginning students in my band I may have inadvertantly given this impression to our prospective female students. I usually make the comment during the first lesson or two that I do not feel women in "general" can play the pipes. :thumb: And I ALWAYS explain to any new female student, there are many, many female pipers that are now and will always be far better than I will ever be. There are all-female pipe bands. I simply don't know any of them and I try and give a skeptical attitude to female pipers. Sort of like "bigfoot". :wink: Remember, I do this all in jest and I am certainly willing to instruct a female at any time. I always try and encourage them as any student and guide them to the best of my ability. Our band has had several female pipers make a start only to falter and fail. Unfortunately, I am now wondering if I have been part of the cause of this. But, after reading this thread I must admit that I will no longer take this attitude with my female students and simply try and encourage them as I would anyone. I guess I really hadn't thought it would offend anyone, but I now see it might have.
Thanks for the "attitude adjustment". :hatoff:
10-06-2004, 02:06 PM
There is no reason be biased against a female piper. Women can do anything they put their mind to! Mind over matter is usually a great power. Women master this! Women are great doctors, pilots, musicians, engineers, and so on. Don't let any remarks towards a particular strength reed demoralize you. Like this reed is easy. Well, maybe for someone who has built endurance and strength to play a gut buster. Good tone is still possible to achieve from reeds of easier strenghts. It is ashame if any male leader snubs the ladies who play. My band wouldn't let women be themselves. They had to wear their hat just so. No MAKE UP! It seemed as more regulations went upon them. I don't see the point in applying such pressure.
I personally have been lucky with my piping, as the teacher I've had for the past six or seven years (Jack Lee) has no bias towards women pipers. He doesn't make things any easier for me or any harder for me than he does the boys that he teaches. I've been put through the same "tests" (like the hand grip exercise, where I was the only one who did it on the first try, :D ), and I've improved a ton with his help because he doesn't go easy on me just because I'm a girl.
I also think that the environment I've been in - that is, the SFU pipe band orginization - has been very open to every person who wants to try piping. You can tell that there isn't any bias in RMM3 (which I was in for 4 years), as my sister was pipe major in 2000 and 2001, they've only ever had girl bass drummers, and they've had two girl drum sergeants in the band. Now that I'm in RMM2, we have a female drum sergeant, a mostly girl drum corps, a female bass drummer, and a woman as our pipe sergeant. In other words, I've been very, very fortunate to be involved with this orginzation, because they expect the same from everyone, and don't doubt people's abilities based on their sex.
10-06-2004, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by Tom308:
I usually make the comment during the first lesson or two that I do not feel women in "general" can play the pipes. Now before you bring out the tar and feathers, let me explain this. First, I say it only in jest. :shrug: I have to ask, did you use the same teaching "techniques" on the male beginners??
Please forgive me for using you as an example Tom, but I think your change of attitude and the reasons behind it (IMHO) should get some attention. Anyway, I am relieved to hear that you won't be doing that anymore.
10-06-2004, 04:24 PM
I'll call myself Sandie on this bit.
Just as a bit of encouragemrnt, without any notiom of being patronising, on this side of the pond at the novice and juvenile level, if there were not female players I cannot think of a pipe corp that could compete in Scotland.
I recall Dunoon Grammer School winning the Worlds only 3 years ago with only 2 males.
It has taken us 50 years to get to this stage so do not let the 'foolish' ones grind you down!
10-06-2004, 10:06 PM
my pipe major is female but other than her and 1 snare drummer i'm the only other girl.I've gotten nothing but encouragement from the men in my band. it might be because i'm also the youngest person in the band who's there most of the time. a lot of the guys watch out for me sort of. like on st.patricks day they warned me that people might be drunk and just to let them know if someone bothered me. it was really cool.
its definitly cool having other kids come up to me. its funny cuz they always go all the way around the cirle, around these big guys, and make staght for me. its really cool
10-07-2004, 06:17 AM
First of all, a big thank you to Dee for coming up with the idea of this forum, and to Bob for getting it set up! :thumb: I don't really care who reads the posts here, but I can finally feel comfortable putting some things on the table which might not be quite suitable for the Beer Tent!
I think my experience in kinda like Dee's; our band is so happy for someone to turn up and keep working, regardless of whether they're male or female, that they feel very welcome. Or is it that Louisiana guys are real Southern gentlemen? :wave: Or is it that I've been piping for only about two years, and so feel that the PM knows more than I do and don't mind having my reeds and tuning worked on. Maybe once I've been playing longer I'd be more annoyed at having that done for me.
I don't mind if I'm the only female in the band, which I was for a little while; I kinda feel like I have some really nice new big brothers. Some of the Mardi Gras parades have been in some pretty wild parts of town, and the ladies always get to be in the center column so the drunks have to get through the guys first. :D
Having two sons, no daughters, and having been in some somewhat male dominated fields of study(wood shop, agriculture) I guess I got used to being around guys early on; at least, I was too interested in doing what I was doing to stop doing it!
I know I'm lucky to be in this situation as I read these posts and find out the difficulties that other women have had. I hope that some of the ladies who have been piping for many years will give us their experiences, too!
10-07-2004, 06:18 AM
I know there are bias people out there in reference to women playing the pipes. I have herd comments on numerous occassions that girls can't blow tone as well as the guys.
Luckily, I grew up in a family that plays the bagpipes. My Father was the pipe major until my brother took over last year. My father taught 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls to play and taught us the same. He was just as hard on the girls as he was on the boys. I say hard only because he wanted us to be the best and to someday take over the band which we are now doing. My brother is the pipe major now but only because we all agree that he has the most experience and is the best person for the job. Although when he isn't around my sister and I take over and I think we get just as much respect as he does. Our band has done quite well over the years with many ladies in the ranks whether it is piping or drumming. So I have to say I have been very lucky over the years to not have to deal with that kind of bias over the years except maybe from outsiders.
10-07-2004, 06:54 AM
I joined a pipe band this year so this is all VERY new to me. (playing 4months, just did my first parade and event) As far as i can see, there is no male/female bias in our group. We have quite a few females in the band. Pipers and Drummers. As a matter of fact, over half the drum corp is female. Our Drum Seargent is male, but other than that we have a male bass drummer, 1 male and 2 female sides, 2 female side students, 2 female tenors and another female bass drummer. (i hope i left noone out). I had been fascinated with it for about a year. I wanted to be a bass drummer, but when i asked about it my instructor insisted i learn the side drum. He was definately correct in doing so. I've recieved alot of encouragement and he put alot of personal time aside for us students. Thankfully, i've not had to deal with that kind of bias here.
10-07-2004, 08:12 AM
ChickaDee, It wasn't the pipe major who manhandled my reeds, browbeat me, & bullied me, repeatedly. The PM was a nice man, a great player, & he could adjust my pipes/reed anytime. It was the pipe sergent (a bully who could barely play any better than me, in fact, I beat him in competitions several times, and basically knew very little about what he was doing). I was trying to be a "team player" & be cooperative to tuning (the PM couldn't make the engagement) so we were often left with the PS to tune us. I just, in as cooperative fashion as possible, was trying to preserve my reed (it had been going well for some time, and played quite well for the PM the day before). You know, really, there was other "stuff" involved in our tiff. He seemed to really resent it that I was the only female player. In Houston, because St. Thomas' cranks out only male players, it was often a novelty to see a female player marching in a parade & I got a bit of attention from the onlookers. I also encouraged a lot of the ladies who would come up and ask about the pipes. I have been instrumental in encouraging several other women to take up the pipes. I hope no one sees me as upcooperative in the band. Lots of people have handled my reeds. Anyone who knows what they're doing is welcome to adjust my set-up, just not some idiot who already had a history of ruining my reeds. Wulls implied in the beer tent that he would have kicked me out of the band. My band was a struggling "street band", not a competition band, where the senior officers know what they're doing. It's a different situation, altogether. Javier & I were just commiserating about someone else destroying a good reed, it wasn't meant to turn into a tirade against bullying fellow bandmembers. :shrug:
10-07-2004, 12:36 PM
Aisling: I hope, given that your question was addressed to "you ladies", that I'm not poking my nose where it doesn't belong.
But I admit to a bias. In general, the female students I've had tend to show a much greater interest and greater drive than the males. I try, however, not to hold it against the beginning male.
10-08-2004, 05:12 AM
Equus, thanks for the chuckle. I have limited time and only teach folks who are taking this on as a musical instrument (not because its what Irish-Scottish-panCeltic people do, its how you get free beer, its how you get to wear a kilt, etc etc). I have talked with prospective students on the phone to try to figure out their motivation for learning, and those I decline to teach because of "scheduling conflicts" are invariably men. In my experience, adult women interested in learning seem to be attracted to the pipes for their intrinsic musical value, not for the extrinsic trappings. Though one did tell me she was shopping for a husband as well as a hobby!
So if there's any bias, it cuts the other way for me just because of my experience teaching adult beginners. I myself have not experienced any bias as a female piper, either in bands, solos, or in instruction. But, I can see that even today there may be some situations where gender bias could be a factor - why not just steer clear then, ladies? Those of you who are in bands that decline to play should this issue arise, that is exactly the right approach.
10-08-2004, 07:08 AM
Well to answer your question Aisling (the one of the very first post of this topic) ,I was lucky(and still am) to be a in band where girls are well accepted.It's been 10 years since the boys actually and literally put the bassdrumm on me,not wanting to know if I agreed or not.They gave me no choice but to carry it and try to play as well as I could.....I was quite successfull going through that test and since that day I'm my band bassdrummer.The problems I met with came from the bassdrummers of the other bands.They were all boys and men by that time in Brittany and all of them could have been bobybuilders or rugby players...If you see what I mean :wink:
They were awfully disrespectfull,macho and even evil for some of them.I was called names,and ugly behaviours showed up during my first 2 years of playing.But,luckily the guys in my band were there and they gave me support and helped me cheering up each time it was needed,telling me that they had faith in me and that we would work hard enough to prove everybody a 5 feet and 3 inches tall girl could be a good bassdrummer(even a better one! :wink: ) .It worked out quite well actually.Now in Brittany people don't look at me anymore as if I were a sort of strange animal...And moreover,there are more and more girls coming to play the bassdrumm.
There aren't many girls playing the pipes in my band though (3 of them only out of 22),10 of them play the bombard (out of 20 people playing it)and 6 playing in the drumming section.But in Brittany,with the Bagad style,a lot of girls go to play the bombard.It looks to be less hard than the pipe.
What really surprised me the first time (1996) we came to Scotland to participate to the Worlds was the number of women playing the bassdrumm.I couldn't believe there were(& still are) so many of them.A real shock compares to what I was used to in Brittany :shrug: :shrug: :shrug:
10-08-2004, 03:52 PM
Thank you Dee and Bob for this new forum. I hope it will provide an outlet for communication for all the *positive* things women experience in piping, as well as all (well, some) of the negative. It is a great idea. We have lots to say...
To add just 2 cents on this topic, I live in Ontario where there are tons of bands and many pipers. In my experience, at the beginner ranks and in the lower-grades there are lots more females than males. By grade three though, there is, in some cricles, a real bias against female pipers (maybe drummers, too?, but there is the shortage of drummers...), unless they are needed for "fill-ins" on parade days and other fund-raising events that most competing bands have to take part in to keep afloat. Alos, in the bands I have played with, it is always expected that the female players will act as uniform stewards, band secretaries, nurses, drivers, and band cook and bottle washers (well some bottles)as well. There are a lot of guys who think we can't possibly be there just for the *serious* playing, but that our overwhelming motivation must be for the social outlet. Even when you compete seriously (or try to).
10-09-2004, 10:57 AM
Originally posted by Liz:
I've been put through the same "tests" (like the hand grip exercise, where I was the only one who did it on the first try, :D :wave: Liz,
I had a request from someone wanting to know more about the hand grip exercise (what is it/what is the test) Could you (or anyone) please tell us a little more about it?
10-10-2004, 09:27 AM
I was wondering about the hand grip thing too.
What I tend to get annoyed about when it comes to female players is a kind of mis-directed niceness - meaning that teachers/instructors are too nice and too careful with their female pupils, and as a result they never get told that they're doing something wrong. Seeing a woman struggle because no-one will tell her she's doing something wrong is really quite annoying.
10-10-2004, 04:51 PM
I agree with you, CalumII. I don't think this has happened to me in pipe band, but I've noticed it everywhere else -- work, etc. People usually assume that I know things, or they aren't comfortable giving directions or helpful criticism. It doesn't seem to be a big deal, guy to guy, and I don't think I respond badly when someone does finally set me straight. I usually just wish that they had told me sooner. Then I wouldn't have spent all that time looking like
this -- :confused:
10-11-2004, 08:54 AM
If your band doesn't take their women pipers seriously, they are losing half of their potential pipe corps!
My sister participated at a USAF forum several years ago, she was on the podium with Gen. Chuck Yeager, USAF (ret.). To paraphrase the WW2 ace who was the first person to break the sound barrier.....I don't want a woman for a wingman, I don't want a man for a wingman, I want the BEST PILOT as my wingman. Because, that's the person that is going to save my a$$!
</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by ChickaDee:
10-28-2004, 05:40 AM
I started playing snare two weeks ago and the only person who was in any way discouraging or negative towards me was a female snare player who objected to the leading TIP giving me my first ever lesson.
I guess it takes all sorts.
10-28-2004, 12:11 PM
Is your lead tip a guy? :wink:
10-28-2004, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by wingedmessenger:
I started playing snare two weeks ago and the only person who was in any way discouraging or negative towards me was a female snare player who objected to the leading TIP giving me my first ever lesson.Maybe she was jealous of the attention you were receiving......I've seen it happen.
10-28-2004, 01:54 PM
Erm... Yeah he is a guy and yeah I think she's jealous. She said "its not fair if you spend all your time teaching Rosie, we never get to learn anything from you."
He taught me once, my first night. Since then I've been getting lessons from someone else and she's not been turning up for that.
Thing is, I dont want to step on anyones toes or do anything which will cause offence but now I dont know how to approach band night. I dont want to take up all the time of someone whom others want/need to teach them more advanced stuff.
Any tips on how to deal?
10-28-2004, 03:30 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about it - It's up to the lead tip to decide on how much time he's devoting to individuals in the drum corps at band practice - and don't forget, assuming your corps is working on band material only, you are already taking outside instruction to bring your playing up to the level that the band is playing. If sparks aren't flying between these two individuals already, your presence at practice I'll bet won't make any difference (to him at least) one way or another.
Good Luck :rolleyes: !
10-29-2004, 07:57 AM
Its someone else within the band who is teaching me so it shouldnt matter...
Last nights practice was brilliant :)
11-05-2004, 02:58 PM
I've been reading through all these folders and have the following impressions:
1. Aspiring to the tenor drum is considered rather, uh, unambitious, even lowly.
2. Women who join, or attempt to join, a group are more likely than not to be picked on or ignored.
You all seem like very nice people, so, in a nutshell: My kid is in college, my husband takes care of himself just fine, I'm 55 and in excellent shape, I have always wanted to play drums in a group, and the tenor drum seems like just the thing for me.
One other thing..a couple of years ago I visited the practice of a local pipe band that said they welcomed new members, even beginners. They were pretty damn rude. It's taken me this long to even want to approach the subject again. But I want to play a drum, and it won't go away. Want to take a swing at convincing me I should? Feel free to discourage me if you think you should. Any suggestions as to which Seattle-area band might be welcoming to a newbie?
I'm grateful for any replies!
11-05-2004, 03:18 PM
Hi, SeeTheMoon: May I suggest a few things? First, don't let ignorant impressions sway you from your dreams and goals. Anyone who considers aspiring to the tenor drum as lowly is simply ignorant.
Second, too many bands in the past (and a few in the present) have considered the tenor drum a way to get someone on the floor. You know the routine: "Gee, my [husband, wife] would like to play...let's put a tenor drum on them. After all, there's nothing to it...just strap it on and you're part of the band."
It's an instrument, and one which--today more than ever--enhances the entire band's sound. And, in the right hands (and flourishes), the look--if that's important to the band.
Finally, where you start is not necessarily where you'll end. By starting on the tenor, who's to say that you won't be tapped at some time for the bass? Or that you will want to work on sides or, God forbid, even the pipes? :wave: Michael
12-01-2004, 07:00 AM
I know its an old thread but thought i'd share this story anyway:
I was practicing with my teacher and hadn't played for a while so i got tired really fast and when i said that he was like "well you are a girl" that made me pretty mad but for a bit i was just surprised cuz he'd never said anything like that before, then i dont remember exactly but he was like "you didn't like me saying that did you" so i said no and he was like "so don't ever give anyone the chance too!" :thumb: pretty cool stuff
12-01-2004, 07:24 AM
Originally posted by SeeTheMoon:
I've been reading through all these folders and have the following impressions:
1. Aspiring to the tenor drum is considered rather, uh, unambitious, even lowly.
I've come across that attitude, and even felt that way when I first started. When I started I was a piper being taught by the PM. Due to being a full time student as well as a full time employee, my practicing started to suffer because I wasn't getting home until 11pm at night. So at one point the PM said, throw her on tenor to get her in the band. I've been a tenor ever since for the band and a side drummer for solos.
For a long time I thought of the tenor as being the lowliest instrument because of the feeling of, "well anyone can do it, you barely play anyways". It wasn't until I started seeing some of the top tenor sections perform that I began to change my mind. The first time I saw Shott's corps I thought to myself, "dang, I wanna look like that!". Now, the chances of that happening at my age and lack of experience are pretty slim, but it motivates!
People who truly value what a tenor has to offer will have good things to say about tenoring, those who don't understand it or don't care about it, probably won't.
Just go for it, and look for the band that will welcome you in with open arms. Don't waste your time with one that won't.
And remember, a swinging tenor is more likely to impress an audience than someone who just stands there and blows into a bag :lol:
12-02-2004, 12:58 PM
:D Hey Mitch!?????? :wink: