With all of the concerts and Open Mic Night, the hard work and talent of our student musicians is clear. However, there is an underlying problem with the music program, and it’s been a problem for a while now: Where are all the women?
There are 5 major music classes offered at Central Catholic. Band (a zero period class), Concert Choir, Electronic Music Lab, Music Production Lab, and Honors Jazz Band, all of which are taught and assembled by Mr. McLean. In each class, students are encouraged to create music, learn songs, and further their musical knowledge. For student musicians, these classes are a great chance to get to make music in the middle of the school day. Unfortunately, many of these classes are male dominated.
The definite reason for this gender disparity is unknown. There are a lot of women at Central Catholic who enjoy playing music, but never signed up for a class where they can play. Interestingly enough, the choir class is made up entirely of women.
As a former member of Music Production Lab, and being one of two girls in the class, I definitely know the feeling of being overpowered by the boys. I interviewed two female musicians from our school, to learn about their experiences in the music classes at Central Catholic. Gyllian Mullen ‘19 has been a part of the MPL class since her sophomore year. She has also been in several musicals and plays at school. Campbell Ray ‘21 is the only woman in the Advanced Jazz Band class and has been playing music for a long time.
What instruments do you play, and what kind of music is your favorite to perform?
Gyllian: I am a singer, guitarist, and songwriter. I like to play alternative pop and rock.
Campbell: I play the alto saxophone in Jazz Band. We play Latin jazz, funk, and swing. I also play the clarinet in Concert Band and we play a variety of music from classical to Disney hit tunes. In fact, this spring break Both the bands are going to Disneyland for five days to play in the recording studio and in the theme park.
What is it like being in a male dominated music class?
G: Being in a male dominant class of any kind is tough, but in art and music, I find it to be even more difficult for me because it is what I’m most passionate about in life. Boys a lot of times would try to push out my ideas or write me off and I found it intimidating to stick up for my own ideas.
C: I have to admit, it took awhile for me to feel comfortable with everyone, probably because I was one of the only freshmans in this class and I was still adjusting to High School. At times it can be a little lonely because most references in class or jokes are about things that I don’t know. However, it has definitely pushed me to make the most out of this interesting situation and make new friends with upperclassmen with different personalities. I’ve come to think of the boys as brothers (after all, my older brother Jackson Ray is also in Jazz Band). Now I don’t even think about being the only girl in Jazz Band because I know that I have them standing with me.
Do you ever feel like you weren’t taken seriously in that class?
G: Either I felt like I was never taken seriously and was pushed around by boys, or when I would stick up for my ideas, everyone would call me stubborn and selfish.
C: Musically, I am taken seriously in because I have a good attitude and strive to become a better musician. Socially, I’m taken pretty seriously too because we do spend a lot of time together outside of school playing in pep band games, and doing extra practice.
But hey, I’m a freshman who feels socially awkward on the regular.
What advice do you have for future women musicians coming to Central Catholic?
G: Do not conform to whatever girl in high school is pressured to be. Be who you feel most comfortable being and don’t be afraid to communicate your ideas, but you will have to get used to being alone in the fight. If you are a musician and you love music, don’t let boys or the presence of males change what you feel and think.
C: I took Jazz Band because I have a passion for music. If you have a passion for anything, it shouldn’t matter if it’s an all-girls class or an equal number of each gender because, in the end, the whole focus of a class is to learn something new. In addition, I would tell them to keep in mind that there are more boys in each grade than girls, statistically speaking at Central Catholic, but that shouldn’t affect your decision to do what you love.
Gyllian and Campbell have both made it clear in their interviews that if even if the class is full of males, your love for music is stronger than all of their dominating energy combined. A room full of men should not discourage females from joining these amazing classes, even it it seems intimidating at first. Having a passion for music and being able to play instruments is an incredible gift. So, my final word to the women of Central Catholic is this: If you have the wish or interest in taking a music class, you must sign up. You will learn, grow, and succeed,have moments of frustration and discouragement, but you will overcome them. In order to solve the great problem of the lack of women in our music classes, we take the lead and sign up for them.