The moment I saw the WAM research opportunity posted, I knew I had to do it. Dr. Cypess’s research description was able to both put into words and put forward a way to take action about something I’ve been feeling for a long time—that not only were women were absent from the music history taught in classrooms, but that this absence did not reflect the truth.
As I began my research, I started to wonder why exactly I, a woman studying music composition at a music conservatory, wanted to study women in art music. It was something beyond wanting to advocate or spread this awareness to others. I realized that these doubts had always been lingering at the back of my mind as well, and the project suddenly became much more personal.
As someone who grew up learning music inside classrooms, the music education I’ve been exposed to conformed to the “dead white men” narrative taught across the globe. It was only after diving headfirst into the stories of women musicians of the past that I recognized that my lack of confidence in myself as a composer stemmed from my musical upbringing. The worst part was that as much as I advocated for women musicians, deep down I subconsciously projected these doubts onto them. It was devastating. That’s when I decided I didn’t want any more women to feel like I did. And that starts with WAM.
Tracey Crystal Miller is completing her 4th year as a music composition major at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.