A hallmark of a Parker educational experience is faculty responsiveness to the emergent needs of our students and the impact on curriculum. Four years ago, a 5th grade student voiced her concerns about what she perceived as a lack of female representation in the music industry. In the years since, the Music Department has worked together to orchestrate small-group and Morning Ex experiences to help students take a closer look at gender inequity in the field.
At a Morning Ex this week, Parker brass teacher and trombone player Catie Hickey spoke about the history and evolution of the Women in Music event. She then joined forces with flutist Gaby Vargas, Joanna Schulz of Gaudete Brass and bassist and vocalist Katie Ernst for a special performance featuring composers Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, women living and writing in the Bronzeville neighborhood during the 1920s and ’30s. DePaul faculty member Joe Clark arranged the works on the program.
Following this performance, the musicians took center stage, introduced themselves and their instruments and shared personal stories about what drew them to music in general and each of their instruments in particular. Each artist played a short piece of music to demonstrate the range and unique sounds of their chosen instrument.
The MX featured great music and thought-provoking discussion, helping all in attendance appreciate the personalities and people behind the instruments, as well as the essential importance of gender diversity in music. We are especially fortunate this year as all the participating musicians will return to Parker to work directly with our students.