Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (BM)


School of Music


Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy

Bryce Hayes

Gary Ritcher


Over the past thirty years, the presence of professional female conductors has visibly increased within the world of choral music and choral music education. Though pedagogical and societal challenges of gender bias and professional capacity remain evident, attitudes are shifting towards a focus on professional behaviors including competency and holistic personal development (Hansen 2009, 189-190). This document is a yearlong journal exploring the world of three career female music educators who emulate both artistic conducting and effective music pedagogy. This thesis outlines the experiences of female choral conductors and their strong desire for career-long success founded in positivity, sustainability and professional behaviors stemming from three distinct, yet interconnected research categories; the classroom: surveying aspects of teacher effectiveness, personal reflections and modeling; concert preparation: surveying aspects of rehearsal delivery and the history of women conductors in the concert hall; and career development. Questions explored in the document include society’s attitude towards women conductors and their development personally and professionally. Specific research questions include: What is the perception the academy and society at large hold about women conductors? What challenges do women conductors face? What advantages do they possess? Of what should the next generation be aware? A survey of literature pertaining to female choral conductors included topics of research within the three study categories. Research concerning female conductors in the classroom included teacher effectiveness and females working with adolescent male students. Research in the category of female conductors in the concert hall included score preparation, a history of women choral conductors on the podium and female choral conductors in the academy. Literature concerning the career of female conductors included personal interviews and a focus on conductors’ personal and organizational legacy in the context of music as a social force. Study data was gathered through a variety of methods including interviews of three highly successful career conductors and a summary from the pioneering book, Wit, Wisdom and Will, which provides an academic yet holistic picture of the microcosm of women conductors. Personal fieldwork teaching experiences were also utilized as supplementation to the literature and professional teaching experience. Finally, ten segments from personal fieldwork teaching experiences were assessed based on a rubric constructed to measure teacher effectiveness. In chronicling the history of the archetypal struggles, gender bias, and issues of professional competency for women in choral conducting, an attempt was made to represent the past and research the present, as well as herald the future. While the past represents gender as an integral part of identity, the present manifests gender and its role in identity formation. Potential future perspectives for female choral conductors are discussed.



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