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Gender differences in musical instrument choice

(2008) Gender differences in musical instrument choice. International Journal of Music Education , 26 (1) pp. 7-19. 10.1177/0255761407085646. Green open access

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Abstract

Historically, there have been differences in the musical instruments played by boys and girls, with girls preferring smaller, higher-pitched instruments. This article explores whether these gender preferences have continued at a time when there is greater gender equality in most aspects of life in the UK. Data were collected from the 150 Music Services in England as part of a larger survey. Some provided data regarding the sex of pupils playing each instrument directly. In other cases, the pupils' names and instruments were matched with data in the national Common Basic Data Set to establish gender. The findings showed distinctive patterns for different instruments. Girls predominated in harp, flute, voice, fife/piccolo, clarinet, oboe and violin, and boys in electric guitar, bass guitar, tuba, kit drums, tabla and trombone. The least gendered instruments were African drums, cornet, French horn, saxophone and tenor horn. The gendered pattern of learning was relatively consistent across education phases, with a few exceptions. A model was developed that sets out the various influences that may explain the continuation of historical trends in instrument choice given the increased gender equality in UK society. Copyright © 2008 International Society for Music Education.

Type: Article
Title: Gender differences in musical instrument choice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0255761407085646
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534082
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