Women in American music
- Judith Tick
- , revised by Judy Tsou
The achievements of women in American music and the patterns of their participation in musical life are approached historically in this article; greater attention is given to women as a group than to individuals. Scholarship on women and music is mentioned here; for more detailed discussions see Feminism and Gender .
Women’s music-making up to 1850 was mainly secular and centered on the home. Generally regarded as a feminine “accomplishment,” music was considered in the 18th century an ornament or social skill; in the 19th century it became a component of a lady’s education. Women typically learned keyboard instruments, harp, and guitar, and were taught how to sing, but they were generally not trained as professionals, since society viewed public performance as immodest. Research into the role of women in music in this period has relied heavily on a vast prescriptive literature of etiquette manuals and educational tracts that discuss the proper place of music in a young lady’s life; classic examples of such books include John Bennett’s ...