A BROTHERHOOD WITH ONE SISTER: A COLLECTIVE CASE STUDY OF WOMEN CONDUCTORS OF COLLEGIATE MEN’S CHOIRS
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Despite efforts to create gender equitable work places, there is evidence that gender typecasting and stereotyping is still a large issue in the modern work force. In choral music, there is a multitude of female elementary, middle, and high school directors working with choirs of all types, gender specific and mixed. However, the numbers change dramatically at the collegiate level, showing an absence of women conductors in positions of leadership despite doctoral programs consistently producing more female than male graduates. Collegiate men’s choirs have unique and storied traditions dating back to the Civil War era and the founding of many prominent colleges in the United States. The culture of these ensembles is founded around the concepts of fraternity, brotherhood, and a requisite number of drinking songs. The nature and history of these glee clubs has tended to limit access to women conductors. As gender stereotyping and biased hiring practices are challenged in the modern workforce, the choral profession needs to assert its support of women conducting any type of ensemble, to include those traditionally reserved for men. The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of female conductors of college men’s choirs. This research was guided by the following questions: How do women choral conductors describe their motivations for working with college men’s choirs? How do these conductors describe the rehearsal environment in their college men’s choir? And finally, how do these conductors define the challenges of working with male singers? The following areas provided focus for themes that emerged from the conductor interviews: their motivations, the rehearsal environment, and the challenges associated with a lack of opportunity and quality literature. These areas were also explored in the student interviews and used to provide additional context and perspective to each conductor’s case.
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