In my early years of learning piano and music theory, never once was I taught about a female composer. We’ve all heard about the greats – all male composers – but this month, for Music Challenge Monthly, I wanted to get students thinking about why there simply aren’t many notable female composers in history. Since March is Women’s History Month, I thought it was a great opportunity to explore this gender inequity and bring into focus the handful of women who did manage to make their mark in music, though the odds were certainly against them.
I came up with a list of female composers, all noteworthy in their own right, and created a short form for students to fill in, as if they were interviewing their female composer of choice. I thought this would be a fun way for your student to “get to know” a female composer. As a side note, I know this might require some internet research, so please make sure your student is completing this activity with supervision and with their device’s parental controls turned on.
The last page of the download includes a short blurb for your student to read. It addresses the question of “why?” Why aren’t there more female composers in history? What cultural roadblocks were preventing women from having the same opportunities as men did in the arts? This is a page I’d encourage you to read and discuss with your student. Understanding the cultural history surrounding gender roles and the disadvantages of being female in the time of these composers is just as important as understanding how to play a piece of their music.
Please emphasize to your student that, today, women have far greater opportunities to succeed in music and arts, and that is a recognition they have not always had. Enjoy this month’s Female Composer Interview with your student, and I hope you both learn about a woman who had to surmount incredible obstacles for her music to be heard and valued. Thank you for honoring the stories of these history-makers!
If you’re a member of Busy Kids Do Piano, you’ll be able to access these Music Challenge Monthly activities in the “Printables and Worksheets” section of the website.