Faculty Advisor

Brown, Gwynne

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2023


Vocalists are the only music students whose instruments are their bodies. As a result, “finding a voice” is an incredibly sensitive process shaped by systems of education. Based on twelve semi-structured interviews with University of Puget Sound choir and voice alumni from the 1990s, this research examines the effects of collegiate music education on the musical identity negotiation of undergraduate vocalists, specifically concerning the effects of gender conceptions embedded in classical music cultures. Interview analysis revealed the salience of gender in mediating choral belonging, the importance of body image in shaping singer identities, the impact of masculine music theory education on vocalists, and the effects of gendered musical hierarchies. Educational discourses in the Puget Sound School of Music in the 1990s reinforced female sexualization, gender binarism, and heteronormativity, valuing masculine-coded traits and activities over those coded as feminine and devaluing the embodied musicianship of vocalists, especially those who did not fit into hierarchical gender expectations.


University of Puget Sound