my undergraduate research

spring 2019

The Impact of Gender on Musical Instrument Selection and Abilities

abstract: Research has found that a student’s gender may be linked to the musical instrument he or she chooses to play in music class. For instance, many more females than males choose flute and clarinet, while males are much more likely than females to choose tuba, trumpet, and percussion. This review of literature highlights the nature vs. nurture reasoning for this phenomenon. Instrumental music was originally a wholly male-dominated field, leading to a historical deficit of females in certain instrument families that continues to influence the psychology of musicians today. These social stereotypes affiliated with instruments and gender may have a particular impact on student’s eventual choice of an instrument, as nurture has also proven to be a large influence on human development. As it relates to nature, physically, humans develop differently between males and females. Some of these differences lead to physical advantages, such as a larger bone structure leading to ease of carrying larger instruments in males. Neurological differences may be at the root of the male dominance in percussion sections. Studies have shown that higher levels of testosterone during fetal development influence physical abilities required of a percussionist. Researchers who interviewed female percussionists found many described themselves as “tom boys” when they were young girls.

awards: Morehead State University Celebration of Student Scholarship Distinguished Researcher

fall 2019   spring 2020


The Correlation Between Testosterone Indicators + Advanced Percussion Skill

abstract: Research suggests that many of the skill sets required of percussionists may come more naturally for high-testosterone individuals. Testosterone’s role in the organization of the fetal brain in several places manifests as physiological and psychological characteristics. For example, percussionists are constantly asked to perform skills that involve ambidexterity and coordination between all of their limbs. This requires rigorous communication between the two halves of the brain, which is controlled by the Corpus Callosum, a part of the brain that testosterone aids in developing during the fetal period. Testosterone levels may also impact the way an individual self-identifies on a masculine/feminine scale. Because testosterone is not limited to males, it is possible that a trend of higher testosterone is found in female percussionists. In this study, female percussionists at the collegiate level will be given three popular tests that suggest testosterone levels: BEM Sex-Role Inventory, a Self-Identification Survey, and a test of the ratio of the length of the 2nd finger to the 4th finger. The students’ scores will be plotted and analyzed against averages of female collegiate musicians in other instrument fields.

presentations: KY Posters at the Capitol March 2020

Southern Regional Honors Conference March 2020

Morehead State University Celebration of Student Scholarship April 2020

For more information on this research, please contact me below!