I wasn’t originally planning on studying women in music. Fascinated by American folk music, I was looking for ways to bring that marginalized style of music into music education when my undergraduate advisor sent me some information about the WAM project. As I pondered the role of women in art music, I wondered if there were any parallels between the issues I see with folk music entering the education field and the issues women have encountered with getting recognition for their music. With this in mind, I decided to join Dr. Cypess in studying the people who have been pushed aside despite their many accomplishments.
As I continue forward with the project, I have realized that words and writing will not be enough to give these women the credit they so deserve. In order to help the women of history surpass any stereotypes or societal restrictions that they encountered, we need to be present-day activists on behalf of their compositions, performances, and abilities. As important as it is to empower the prominent women of today’s music world, by recognizing the constant influence of women in classical art music we can break the notion that women have not played a role in shaping the classical music world. Instead, we can realize that they encountered a different set of challenges from their male counterparts–challenges that restricted them from having as public careers or as extensive legacies.
Lastly, as a teacher I want my students to have strong role models that they can relate to, and that requires me to educate myself about composers from all nationalities, genders, and genres so that I can best assist my students. I hope you have a similar belief and that this website helps you on your journey!
Nathan Bishop is completing his 4th year as a music education major at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.