Are Girls the Super Majority of Violin Students?

September 8, 2008 at 05:37 PM · Are the majority of violin students girls? If yes, why is this?

I have the fortune of finding my 5 year old son a superb violin teacher. I was surprised to find that there will be only one other boy at his group lesson out of eight children total.

Group lessons are divided into four groups accordingly to advancing repertoire. Out of 21 total students only 2 are boys, both of which are at the most basic repertoire. There are absolutely no boys at the more advanced levels.

Replies (43)

September 8, 2008 at 07:11 PM · This has been a growing concern of mine. I retired 2 years ago from a public school career spanning 35 years, and my observations are that more & more activities and interest groups are populated with significantly more girls than boys. It's not just a violin or strings issue. The school band, choir and many clubs were mainly girls. Ditto honor rolls, top scholars. And with the efforts to equalize sports access & funding, that is not a boys' realm either. One thing that has occurred to me is that girls are willing to be one of a bunch for a long time, where many boys only stick as long as they can be at or near the top. But it generally takes a long time to be at the top of many worthwhile pursuits... Boys seem to be very obsessed with techy stuff/games. Fine as one part of an active life, but as the only thing that holds their attention?? :(( Sue

September 8, 2008 at 08:28 PM · Violin is not what you might call a macho instrument. Also it is difficult to play. All this mitigates against serious interest on the part of the testosterone-driven. There are few male cultural icons who espouse the violin, another drawback.

Kids these days also have the attention span of fruit flies, a fact that is only intensified by video games and computers in general. This seems to be effecting a general dumbing-down of the entire population. If you don't believe me, turn on the television.

September 8, 2008 at 08:32 PM · ...on the plus side that leaves a lot of possible girls to meet. ;)

September 8, 2008 at 08:37 PM · Boys (violinists) don't have to feel complexed. For hundered of years (1600 and after) the major composers and soloists were all boys and the girls were at home... Well maybe not at home but you know what I mean. When Ginette Neveu was alive, she was one of the rare girls at that level and when you look the composition of the orchestras at that time, there were not much girls. I don't think we should look the gender of the people when they are selected in a group. We should listen to the playing only!

Although this is only my opinion...

September 8, 2008 at 08:48 PM · Ever notice that more and more major orchestras have almost a majority of their string sections composed of Asian women. Why is that? One possible answer, my teacher says that all the Asian players she knows from Conservatory students to top professionals seem to learn violin faster and have a significantly higher agility in their hands and fingers. I'm jealous.

September 9, 2008 at 12:36 AM · Interesting topic. I've causally noticed the same thing - most of the violinists in our local symphony are women; there's only one boy taking lessons offered by the symphony conservatory - but hadn't thought to question it before this. On the other hand, in the small ensemble I play with the violin section is composed of one woman, one old codger (me) and three young men ages 18, 18 and 22. Still, it seems to be a truism that boys are not taking up violin at the same rate as girls.

The traditional professions used to be dominated by men, but for the past couple of decades that has been rapidly changing. Now, in some years there are more women than men entering law, medical and dental schools. Also, the percentage of Asian students in professional schools has risen sharply. Does any of this have any bearing on the topic at hand? I don't know.

It seems to me that there is a reduction in number of young people taking music lessons of any sort, not just violin. When I was in grade school nearly everyone was learning some instrument. Either they were taking private lessons, or they were in the school band. Actually, I can't recall any of my classmates who never took music lessons at all some time between grade one and grade eight. That seems to have gone by the wayside. I could be wrong, but my impression is that music lessons are now exception rather than the rule. But why? There is no doubt that kids like music - iPods are as ubiquitous as cell phones, and even those are MP3 players now. In spite of that, there seems to be less interest in making music. Is it no longer acceptable among the young to learn to play an instrument?

The comment about computers and video games I think is accurate. Kids spend a lot of their free time indoors, either with their video game consoles, watching TV, or on the computer (playing video games.) That's probably a vast overgeneralization, but it's what I've observed directly, or been told by kids themselves. If I can indulge in old memories again, in high school I and all my friends were either working on our car, if we could get their hands on one, or we were helping one of our buddies work on his car. Any of us could take a car apart and put it back together again. In fact, we did it fairly regularly. The average boy in high school today has no idea how a car operates. They can drive, but what goes on under the hood is a complete mystery. Unlike grade school, in high school not everyone was involved with music, but among of my car-fanatic buddies everyone played something - guitar - drums - saxophone - clarinet - organ - piano - string bass - electric bass - something. Is there a connection there? Is there a connection between an interest in how things work and making music? Does that mean the girls are now the ones interested in how cars work? Just a few ramblings.

September 9, 2008 at 01:50 AM · edtted for tact. -d

September 9, 2008 at 01:28 AM · Right now my studio is 3-1, girls to boys (excluding adults).

I have noticed that the younger boys look up to, and admire, the older boys. The same holds true for the younger girls modeling the older girls.

It would be nice to live in a society where peer gender is irrelevant to the young people, but evidently at the elementary ages, that ain't going to happen...Cooties, perhaps?

September 9, 2008 at 02:36 AM · People choose what they want to do, as someone had posted +1600 on wards was a vast majority of boy composers/soloist, now I guess its the females turn to shine.

September 9, 2008 at 02:42 AM · This is a very split up topic...

In band, it's even on the split up between boys and girls. In orchestra, I would say it's even as well... With private volin lessons, I would say it's mostly girls.

But with the original post- At least your son will have a friend to develop and grow up with, and heck, With all those girls he might wind up with a girlfriend:D

September 9, 2008 at 02:51 AM · A couple of high school boys figured it out: playing the violin gets the chicks. They now take lessons from me and have been rewarded with hordes of swooning chicks. ;)

My violin studio currently sits at 2:1, female-male. My piano studio is evenly split.

September 9, 2008 at 03:28 AM · Off topic, but responding to the car thing; these days it takes some seriously expensive diagnostic equipment to deal with working on a car od recent vintage. There are so many computer chips and sensors influencing the operation of the vehicle, from monitoring oxygen intake to operating the brakes, that a shade-tree mechanic is doomed to oblivion, or at least to Cuba, where a nice supply of pre-1962 autos still exists.

Between the govt, mandating air quality in exhaust emissions, to auto manufacturers, who keep proprietary info out of the hands of all but their dealers' shops, even the local auto shop is having a tough time. The Age of Specialisation is on us, big time.

September 9, 2008 at 04:30 AM · Customer to mechanic: "My car won't boot up."

lol

What you can do is get it to the dealership, where for $75 they plug it into the HAL 9000 and tell you what's wrong with it. "Dave, I don't think my oxygen sensors are working properly." And you go back home and fix the problem yourself. It lets real men retain at least a little self-respect.

September 9, 2008 at 05:25 AM · What the hell's a real man? I hate cars with a passion.

September 9, 2008 at 05:51 AM · Me too, man. I pushed mine over a cliff and bought a motorcycle.

September 9, 2008 at 06:24 AM · so many issues and controversies, a state library would not be big enough to house the volumes of opinions and studies.

but, we can't blame the kids. they are simply products of parental attentions - or inattentions.

September 9, 2008 at 06:44 AM · I actually have slightly more boys than girls and the rest of the music school seems to be split among similar lines.Maybe its still considered cool to play a musical instrument in Italy.

September 9, 2008 at 07:47 AM · Yeah, Italy, go figure...

September 9, 2008 at 08:29 AM · Over here i'd say there is an even split of boys and girls in my orchestra, but the violin section is made up completely of girls. Boys tend to play brass or percussion. I think it depends on the school and how hard they push for music. At my old school music was a big thing so there were lots of people taking private music lessons and joining ensembles, etc.

September 9, 2008 at 12:54 PM · Then again, violinists playing rock, jazz, bluegrass and various fiddle styles run strongly to men. It's not uncommon for me to be the only woman in a band or jam, or if other women, still strongly outnumbered by guys. Sue

September 9, 2008 at 08:55 PM · What about those all girl bands huh? You don't see any guys there :(

September 10, 2008 at 12:30 AM · Slowy the women are taking over the world... this is just part of our plan.

September 10, 2008 at 03:31 AM · Marina -shhhssshh!!! It was supposed to be a secret ! :)

September 11, 2008 at 02:04 PM · HI,

Well same here, my son is 8 and he myself and one other boy are the only males taking violin lessons, there are about 37 girls with some moms. In my daughter middle school orchestra the violinists are all girls except for one boy. But its all good!!!!!

September 11, 2008 at 05:44 PM · Looked forward to seeing NYPO at recent prom at Royal Albert Hall in London---- first fiddle section full of Asian girls. Only three men out of 18 players!!Brass too loud for them -- looked good but no guts in the sound-----

September 11, 2008 at 08:51 PM · Has anyone noticed that a womans troubles seem to begin with "MEN"?

*MENtal distress.

*MENapause

*MENstruation.

September 11, 2008 at 09:13 PM · Oh, I don't know, I kinda like men. Most of the time.

September 12, 2008 at 01:26 AM · Greetings,

has anyone noticed that mens troubles begin with `wo`?

Wolfarht.

Wobbly gut.

Car won`t start.

Woke up.

Cheers,

Buri

September 11, 2008 at 11:13 PM · Wombats. For instance.

September 12, 2008 at 01:26 AM · ruining my life.

September 12, 2008 at 03:14 AM · Mmmmm Wombats! I still have some Marmite left from a buddy's vissit to NZ.

September 12, 2008 at 09:03 AM · OK to wombats, Royce, but Blahh marmite - as you should know, wombats and VEGEMITE are Australian. Mmm, vegemite. Marmite is a disgustingly sickly black spread with too much sugar or something. It just aint right somehow.

Horses is another thing that seems to attract grrls more than boys. My son is the only boy at pony club, with 50-60 girl riders. Many blokes tell him he's got it made, but at 15 going on 16 he's just as clueless as ever, if not a little camp. He didn't stick with the violin.

September 12, 2008 at 10:09 AM · Sharelle- I wonder what it would cost for someone to mail me some vegimite?

You know, you are right about the horses & girls! My cousins were that way.

Marmite- very salty and tar like. Makes a great seasoning for chili!

September 12, 2008 at 10:17 AM · Sharelle,

he's got it made ;).

And those crummy wombats!

"Where is your Kreutzer!"

"My wombat ate it..."

September 12, 2008 at 09:10 PM · Royce, PM me with your address, and a treat will be waiting in your letter box (I'm serious, do it).

WE live against a national park, and are yet to see the wombats themselves, but they scat - so maybe they DID eat the Sevcik. If only they'd eat the Thais Meditation.

September 12, 2008 at 09:22 PM · Charles, you'd think that he had it made. Same at school, where he is one of 2 boys, with 12 girls in the class. Boys in the years below him have gone out with all the girls, not our boy. In his opinion, it looks boring.

September 13, 2008 at 02:14 AM · If they ate Sevcik they can eat anything! ;^) There is so much wildlife here in Wyoming (Quigley's State) We have Pronghorn, Deer, Moose, Elk, Mountain Lion walk right through town. Even in the parking lots of the Grocery Stores. I'll try to get pictures and send them too you.

I sent you my address. Will keep an eye out for it.

September 13, 2008 at 10:33 AM · marmite has extremely highlevels of salt

cheers,

Buri

September 13, 2008 at 11:47 AM · Isn't marmite made from beef extract. ie bone marrow where Jacob Kreutzfeld (not Kreutzer) lurks, Wouldn't touch it with a barge pole and neither should wombats if they want to stay sane

September 13, 2008 at 12:24 PM · As a life-long vegetarian and marmite-eater, I always get worried when I hear that rumour crop up. But no, marmite is 100% vegetarian. There's nothing you can't google these days!

But how is vegemite different?

September 13, 2008 at 02:22 PM · Marmite is based on yeast and yes it's salty! But seasons chili really well! And spaghetti sauces. Vegimite= Australia. Marmite= New Zealand. Other than that I think that they are pretty much the same. If they were dried in a dehydrater how would they be for cello/double bass rosin? Hmmmm?

September 13, 2008 at 09:40 PM · 11 secret herbs and spices? I dunno, its just different. If anything, vegemite may be saltier.

My husband has vegemite on mashed potato when he's sick.

September 14, 2008 at 12:16 AM · Based upon my 100% unscientific observation over the years, I notice that many boys study with male teachers after they hit around 12 if they decide to stick with it. I notice a lot of Suzuki teachers are women. Not all, but many I have met. When we left Suzuki, we noticed more boys at the intermediate and advanced levels for both female teachers and male teachers. There were definitely more male teachers outside of Suzuki. Possibly this is because of Suzuki's early emphasis on the mother's role in teaching really young children. I don't know why it is, but if you go to Suzuki institutes there are a disproportionate number of female teachers. I have noticed many boys studying with female teachers drop out at this age or switch to a male.

If many Asian players in orchestras are women would anyone agree that many from Europe are men? Possibly this reflects a cultural bias. If Asian women outnumber Asian men as violinists, then what are the Asian men doing instead? That is a different way to look at it.I have observed many Russian, Eastern European players are men. I have not seen many Hispanic women players on the tour circuit but there are plenty of men... Cultures have different viewpoints and parents encourage different activities for children based upon cultural perspectives on gender identity.

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