Letter B, Bailar contigo

8 Sep

Ok, i will stay today in Colombia. Why? Well just because it is a nice sunny day, and I feel like it,….sorry. Tomorrow i will switch at least the country. maybe also the style? …. stay tuned.

Carlos Vives: Bailar Contigo




the start of a new challenge: letter A

7 Sep

after a really long break, and just having finished a photo challenge, i set myself a musical challenge for the coming days.
Everyday i will post a song starting with one letter of the alphabet.

today i will start, so there will be the song with the letter A.

This song is Amanece from one of my favourite bands Herencia de Timbiqui. I am so glad i could finally see them live and hang out a bit with the guys during a festival in Belgium this summer.
So i hope you enjoy, and if you feel like, you can comment me your “A” songs.


12 Mar

Gendered instruments

This is a chapter of my master thesis.


Is this still a fact, and what are we music educators doing in order to break with this cliché?


First, there is an extensive range of studies analyzing the gender-stereotypes of musical instruments. Hallam (2008) conducted a research among British school children aged between five and nineteen years, where she studied which instruments are the most gendered, and illustrates some of the possible reasons for those differentiations. According to her findings, girls’ (and women’s too) choice for an instrument depends on such factors as the shape or size of an instrument, its pitch and sound quality, and the physical characteristics necessary to play the particular instrument (Hallam, 2008: 7). In accordance with her results, girls are more probable to play small and higher pitched instruments, as example the flute, which is one of the most gendered musical instruments. 


As Gourse writes in her study about the jazz scene, female horn players experienced insults, or were even occasional physically attacked. It was unacceptable for men to see a woman blowing an instrument, which let to comments such as “I hate to see a woman do that” (Gourse, 1995: 8)


While today brass and woodwinds instruments are still extremely gendered, the saxophone is gender neutral. Amongst the various percussion instruments, there is a clear dominance of boys playing the Kit drums, whereas African drums are gender neutral.


Chart 1: Gendered Instruments (Hallam, 2008: 11-13)



Those numbers are conforming to traditional views on gender and practice of music instruments. Nicholas Cook wrote that practically all of Jane Austen’s female characters played the piano (1998: 106). This female preference for the piano, or keyboard is still ongoing today, as the research of Hallam (2008) proves.

Eklund Koza (1991) is noticing a comparable fact while examining the role of women in music as described in Godey’s Lady’s Book, popular in the nineteenth century. At that period, keyboard instruments were the most prominent among women, while men preferred instruments of the orchestral woodwind and string families such as violin and flute. The book does not mention any female musicians in connection with percussion or woodwind instruments (1991: 107).


As Zervoudakes and Tanur (1994, cited in Hallam, 2008: 9) remarked, a change in girls’ choice for instruments between 1959 and 1990 can be noticed, and one realizes that girls are gradually opting for both, ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ instruments.


It is important for girls or women to have role models. As Bruce & Kemp (1993, cited in Hallam, 29008: 9) found out, girls are more probable to choose a ‘masculine’ instrument if there are other female musicians playing that same musical instrument. This phenomenon has also been confirmed by Maite Hontelé, a Dutch trumpet player:


Well, girls find it in general nice to see that there is a woman who gives the lesson. Then they see that it is possible for a girl to play the trumpet. What I do while teaching is to support the girls in their choice to play the trumpet. (Interview on July 6th 2009)


She had two role models herself, from whom she could receive the confirmation that it is possible for women to play the trumpet successfully (interview on July 6th 2009).

May Peters, while teaching at the Puerto Rican conservatory was interestingly not only a role model for girls but also for her male students.


They [the male students] also tell me: wow, I think you are so great, Maestra! They even tell me that they would enjoy having a mother like me. This is for me the reason to be there; being a role model. (interview on August 3rd 2009)


A further influence is the social environment. Especially during the adolescence, peers have an enormous influence and one runs the risk of standing under enormous pressure if one is opting for ‘the wrong’ instrument (Hallam, 2008: 14). Again, the same occurred in the case of Maite Hontelé who found it extremely important in the early stages of her musical experience that female friends of hers played the trumpet as well (interview on July 6th 2009).


If, on the one side female musicians are slowly accepted playing ‘masculine’ instruments, on the other side one is still making differentiations in performance practices of women. The most apparent example is the one of female percussion players. Waxer states that, while men are playing the congas or bongos (both Afro-Caribbean percussion instruments used in Salsa, next to the timbales) mainly being seated, women are expected to play them standing up, since it is considered “unlady-like for a woman to be seated with her legs spread around a percussion instrument” (2001: 242).

She further mentions the female keyboardists, who also play standing up. The reason for this, according to Waxer, is the expectation that women show legs and dance while performing (2001: 242).




Mariano Civico, puertorican Salsasinger died.

21 Feb

I still had the chance to see him live in 2009 with the band of borys caicedo.

here a official note:
Familiares confirman la muerte del cantante de salsa puertorriqueño Mariano Cívico a los medios la muerte del exvocalista de Costa Brava.

El cantante puertorriqueño falleció este jueves en la mañana en España, a causa de un paro respiratorio.

Buergbrennen, an old tradition

17 Feb

Today i will probably go to take part in an old tradition, the burning of the winter. And i can tell you, i really hope it works this year, since i am a bit fed up with this weather.

here some details i found about this huge fire made mainly of our old christmas trees and other collected wood.


The burning of fires apparently originated with pagan feasts in connection with the arrival spring on 21 March. The current tradition of holding it is based on the Christian calendar. Luxembourg has revived the Buergbrennen festivities, which are also held in the neighbour countries, since the 1930s, , with some 75% of villages celebrating the occasion. Originally the bonfire seems simply to have consisted of a heap of wood and straw but as time went by, a central pillar of tree branches was introduced. A crosspiece was later attached near the top of the pillar, giving it the appearance of a cross.


Today you can even find real art work as for example this Buerg in Niederanven. picture taken by David Nepper, published on Facebook. Image

The buergbrennen was once celebrated only by the men in the village, women only being admitted under exceptional circumstances. The most recently married men played a special role, the honour of lighting the fire falling on the last man to have wed. But the newly-weds also had the responsibility of collecting wood for the fire or paying others to assist in the work. At the end of the festivities, they were expected to entertain those taking part, either at home or in local inns. The tradition began to die out in the 19th century because of the high costs involved, but in the 20th century local authorities revived the tradition, taking over responsibility for the arrangements and the costs involved.


so, let’s see if it works……..


my friend mario monaco experimenting around

2 Feb

A fun video of a really cool canadian drummer and percussionist living in NYC. i just love his ideas…..

very sad news for the world of latin music

26 Jan

This message could be read yesterday at an email group i am a member of:

“As of January 2013, Latin Beat Magazine has ceased to exist, Yvette and Rudy Mangual have decided to discontinue the online edition of the magazine after having stopped the print edition about 2 years ago” Arturo Gómez. 

This magazine on Latin music was a real institution, and i have had the chance to also get some print editions of it. It was really informative, including very interesting articles, hit parades and album reviews. From now on, we thus have to find all that beautiful information somewhere else.

what a pity!


thank you Latin Beat Magazine