"Women can't write music."
In early 2017 I had a conversation with a successful composer who shared with me that he knew of band directors who refused to listen to or program works by women composers.
"Women can't write music," they'd say.
A few months later I was reading through the repertoire scheduled for the CBDNA national conference. There was a panel discussing the increased need to feature works by women, yet only one work by a female composer had been programmed for the entire conference.
Alarm bells sounded. Was my composing career being stifled because of my gender?
I blasted a post on Facebook about the lack of diversity at the 2017 CBDNA national conference and apparently, it ruffled some feathers. Shortly afterwards, Margi Underwood, the Director of Bands from Western Carolina University wrote to me about the impact that single post had during the conference and the discussions it inspired...
It's hard to describe what happened, but I can tell you it changed me. I was blind to it.
I programmed female composers, but didn't really think about it. I realized that I wasn't programming in a thoughtful way to bring diversity to my program.
...I can't preach to my own children that we are all equal when I'm not demonstrating it in what I hold most dear... music.
From there I created the Grade 1-4 Female Composer Database. I connected with many female composers and if they didn't understand the wind band genus, I provided them with important information that would make their music accessible to school band directors.
Things have certainly changed since 2017 and ColourFULL Music continues to evolve to not only offer programs that equitably offer works by women alongside their male counterparts, but to embrace all under-represented composers in the wind band field. There is so much good music that you may not have ever heard and a great place to start, is here. I sincerely hope that sometime soon, we wont need resources like this, as programming with an egalitarian view will be the norm.
Until then... here we are.
Jodie Blackshaw | Victoria, Australia
"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens." Michelle Obama