Children being pushed to ‘male’ or ‘female’ instruments

By Richard Vaughan from an original article in the “i” newspaper

Parents are unconsciously steering their children towards learning an instrument that is deemed to be either “male” or “female”, according to a study.

Research has shown that people overwhelmingly believe that the harp is most likely to be played by a woman. In contrast, the trumpet is viewed as an instrument reserved for men.

A survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Royal Albert Hall, showed that just 2 per cent of respondents believed a harp would ever be played by a man, while the same proportion believed that a woman would play the trumpet.

The poll showed that in general brass instruments were regarded as being played by men. However, when it came to string instruments, respondents believed that they were more likely to be played by woman. Only 3 percent of people questioned viewed the violin as being a masculine choice of instrument.

Lucy Noble who is the director of events at the Royal Albert Hall says the bias often leads parents to push their children to learn either “masculine” or “feminine” instruments. “I see it all the time” she said. “Brass sections within orchestras are always heavily male, equally the strings are generally woman and that is because we, consciously or not, guide our children toward a “type of instrument – and its wrong”. Ms Noble called for music and the arts to be more accessible to all.

Despite the low odds, the UK has one of the world’s most famous trumpeters in Alison Balsom, who is performing at the Hall next month.

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