The Summerglen Files

Music, Creativity, and Everyday Life at Summerglen Music in Raleigh, NC

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Summerglen’s All-Girl Trombone Choir

June 20th, 2008 · No Comments

Something very, very, very cool has happened this week, something that truly moves me and sparks a jolt of excitement at the same time:

My first student trombone choir is all girls!

Now, many people may wonder why an all-girl trombone choir is such a terrific phenomenon, so here is some background story.

I began playing trombone in the late summer of 1992. Not exactly the Dark Ages for womankind, right? As a child, I was told that girls could do anything boys could do, that girls could be smart and successful, that as a girl I had equal rights and could grow up and do anything I wanted. Then, I came home from band information night with a trombone.

At that moment, for some reason the above statements no longer applied, and the Dark Ages suddenly weren’t a thing of the past. For months, my trombone was the hot topic with most of the people I knew–how weird it was that a girl would pick a “boy” instrument, how it must feel to be the only girl in the trombone section, and why don’t I just change to a “nice” instrument like the flute. Grr, annoying. Some of the guys in the trombone section didn’t like having a female presence in their row, either, so they’d rib me before, during, and after class day after day. (Until I got the idea to use the end of the slide on one of them. ;-) After that, we were OK!)

I picked the trombone because I loved its wide range of sounds–from beautiful, singing Tommy Dorsey lines to Duke’s bones sounding like a freight train. But at that time and in that place, a young girl choosing to play the trombone was seen as a radical act. And some people try to punish radical acts–like the dirty old men in a D.C.-based trombone group who asked me to their HOTEL ROOM in the middle of a masterclass!

So when I meet young ladies who are interested in trombones, and who can PLAY their trombones, and who want to learn more about trombones, I’m elated! I want to give them the support they need to feel confident and keep growing as musicians, even if people give them grief about their instrument choice. What is wonderful to see is the support that our trombone choir girls’ parents give–they love seeing their kids excel at playing big low brass instruments!

I look forward to working with this group of young ladies; they’re excellent musicians playing some cool arrangements, so there’s a lot of potential for great music to happen. There’s also plenty of opportunity to make these girls’ musical journeys a bit nicer, by making people aware that trombones aren’t just for the guys!

Tags: female musicians · Live Music · music education

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