Seeking new methods to be free from gender consciousness

Maho Harada

Many visible gender gaps have been acknowledged across the globe over the past decades. My PhD examines the more invisible gender gaps still prevalent in the music realm – specifically in violin performance – with the aim of releasing female violinists from gender consciousness. Through my experience and study of the international violin world, it has become evident that there is an unconscious gender bias in violin playing and reception. The study suggests that because of the covert gender gap, ‘masculine’ violin performance is unconsciously expected not only of male violinists but also female, by audiences and musicians alike. I thus seek to find ways to provide evidence that any perceived gaps in musicians’ ability or potential or talent are not caused by an inherent deficiency caused by gender, thus releasing people (especially students) from the expectation that masculine performance is the right way to play instruments.

Image Credit: Maho Harada

This research aims at helping musicians find release from things that bother them, especially those troubled by the gap between ideals and reality of bodily states of being, and those facing dilemmas concerning differences in physical potential when observing teachers and friends. For violinists, because we use the same instruments even though we have different genders, we must try to avoid unnecessary barriers. To be free from any gender consciousness, I verify the violin performance from various angles: exploring the background of violinists in the UK and Japan, the outfits of the player, the context provided by treatises of violin methods and specific physical conditions. I will also offer strategies that will help violin scholars to learn the violin without any gender consciousness.

Header Image Credit: Kenshu Shintsubo

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If you would like to find out more about this project, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Maho Harada

Briony Cox-Williams (Supervisor)