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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think of musical instruments as being either "girl" or "boy" instruments?

Asked by JLeslie (47746 points ) July 6th, 2014

I ask this question, because of an earlier question that you can see here about girls playing football and boys playing an instrument like a flute. It never occured to me before that Q that some instruments are seen as “girl” instruments. I googled a little and see this idea is indeed supported, but many people in discussions about it pointed out many famous male flautists.

Do you think of instruments that way? Do you have a story of boys being given a hard time for playing a girl instrument (whatever instruments those are. I don’t even know. The only ones I can think of are maybe a tambourine or a harp). I guess I can admit that most drummers I know are male, but even then I would not think it odd for a girl to want to play the drums.

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19 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

No, I never really saw an instrument as relating to gender, but growing up I did view a lot of instruments as lame as hell. Clarinet, flute, trumpet, and sax to name a few. I thought this because of how horrible school bands where, it wasn’t until I was much older and saw people who knew how to really play these instruments that I realized how amazing they could really sound.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Some of the best flautists I know are male. Tim Weisberg and Ian Anderson.

Instruments are neither male nor female but whoever plays them well is all that counts.

flip86's avatar

No. Never thought of it that way.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have never thought of instruments being more gender specific although, I do find it particularly sexy when women play certain instruments (violin for example!).

flip86's avatar

Wait though, there was that one time in band camp…

Pachy's avatar

No. But you won’t catch me dead holding a triangle.

cookieman's avatar

No. They are non gender-specific.

And, for the record, here are some other things that should be non gender specific:
• shirts and pants
• toys
• sports
• colors
• career choices
• types of cars
• writing instruments
• musical artists
• tv shows

You get the idea.

dxs's avatar

I admit I always felt effeminate when I played the glockenspiel in high school wind ensemble. But no, I don’t believe in gender so there are no girl/boy instruments.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

French. Blame it on the French. They attribute gender to everything. It appears to be arbitrary, but if there is a system, I’d like t know what it is.

cookieman's avatar

A recent episode of Radio Lab talked about how numerals were once assigned a gender. Even numbers female and odd numbers male.

Apparently the ancient Sumerian word for 1 also means “man”, and their word for 2 also means “woman”.

jonsblond's avatar

I do not think of instruments this way, but some people do. Sad, isn’t it? (that’s why I used the flute as an example in my Q that you linked)

There’s never a long line of boys waiting to play the flute for band. My youngest son was first interested in playing drums in jr, high, but there was a long list (mostly boys) who wanted to play. He ended up choosing the flute instead, and he was the only boy to do so. He became first chair and was also in the jazz band as a flautist.

tedibear's avatar

My nephew played the flute and did take some hassle for it. (This was in the mid-1970’s.) While I know female french horn players, I have never met a female tuba, trombone or trumpet player. I’m sure they exist, I just don’t know any. I’ve never thought of an instrument as being “girl” or “boy” oriented.

snowberry's avatar

A pink Barbie guitar…Definitely girl!

JLeslie's avatar

@Pachy I love the triangle, probably because I like Tchaikovsky so much, especially Nutcracker is like comfort food for me, and he uses the triangle a lot in many of the compositions. I am pretty sure the very “male” drum section is responsible for the triangle.

AshLeigh's avatar

I don’t really think of any activity as a gender specific hobby.

bea2345's avatar

My daughter is studying music and percussion is her major at university. She is now learning steel band. I find it surprising that so few symphony orchestras have women playing the tympani, which is one of her instruments. As an aside, one of my husband’s friends, for most of his childhood and youth, had the ambition of playing the triangle in a symphony orchestra.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I don’t personally, but the band directors at my school certainly did. I was dissuaded from pursuing the oboe because it was a “girl’s instrument.” Several years later and under a new band director, I tried to switch instruments (again, I had my eye on the oboe). “That’s a girl’s instrument,” said the band instructor. “Do you want to be sitting with a bunch of girls all through class?” Being 13 years old at the time, my answer was something along the lines of “um… yes.”

He still didn’t let me.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I used to learn the guitar. And I found it pretty funny that people looked at me in admiration, as if I was a girl who “dared” to play a boy’s instrument. I’ve even heard tales of a girl playing the guitar and getting a boyfriend because her boyfriend though she was so strong with the guitar.

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