After Women’s History Month: Supporting the Music Industry’s Next Generation

After Women’s History Month: Supporting the Music Industry's Next Generation

In honoring March as Women’s History month we recognize the achievements of women from the past. We take this opportunity to talk about women composers who have been overlooked, female performers and conductors, and women who are music educators and advocates.

As the month comes to an end, it’s important that we continue to recognize those who have paved the way for women in all aspects of music. We need to take what we have learned and allow it to inspire us to support the next generation of women in music!

To gather that inspiration, I spoke to seven amazing women who are currently making a difference in the music industry. I encourage you to share their insights with your students and colleagues. Let’s support each other and see what amazing things the next generation will accomplish!

Elisa Janson Jones

Elisa Janson Jones is the founder of the International Music Education Summit, the host and producer of the Music Ed Mentor Podcast, the author of and the Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive, and the director of her local community band. She currently teaches K-8 Music in Colorado where she lives with her husband and 3 musical children.

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

I believe mentorship is the optimal way to support young women who are interested in working in the music industry. By sharing with them our experiences and offering them a listening ear when they need it (or advice when they ask) we can help them avoid the mistakes that we have made, or to simply find solidarity with their situation. Mentorship ensures that the women just entering the industry may be more successful in walking the paths which those of us in the industry have forged.

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

Leave your ego at the door. You’re a woman, and many men will only see you as such. They will be surprised at your success. They will marginalize you without even knowing it. They may ignore your ideas until they come from someone else who may be older or of another gender that they “trust.” This can be hurtful, especially for those of us with roaring egos. Tune out the ego and get to work. If we set aside our need for external validation, and instead press through with the confidence within us, then it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, or how blatantly you are marginalized; your success is still success whether acknowledged to the world or not. Own it within you and no one can take that away. “Ego wants to be heard, confidence is silent.”

Krista Hart

Krista Hart received a Bachelor of Music Education degree and taught middle school music. She spent a decade assisting directors in choosing literature and curating selections for choral reading sessions at Senseney Music. Krista is currently the senior product marketing manager for choral, classroom, and vocal products at Alfred Music in Los Angeles, CA.

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

I think a simple, but important thing we can do is to introduce young women to others and connect them to a network of people who are supportive and welcoming. Offer advice, provide opportunities for learning about career paths, and show a genuine interest in individuals who are curious about working in the music industry.

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

I wish that I had been aware of the diversity of jobs that are available in the music industry. As a student, I had the limited view that you either became an educator or a performer and those were the only ways to be involved. I’ve been an educator, worked for a music retailer, and now work for a music publisher, and through this journey it’s been exciting to see that there are dedicated and passionate musicians doing all kinds of jobs beyond teacher or performer.

Marcia Neel

With 36 years in public school music education, Marcia Neel has directed secondary music programs across the country. She is president of Music Education Consultants, Inc., which fosters the growth and breadth of standards-based, music education programs. She’s also an education advisor to the Music Achievement Council. In 2016, Neel became senior director of education for the Band and Orchestral Division of Yamaha Corporation of America.

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

It’s important that we serve as role models for those who are entering (or are new to) our profession. Because we want our industry to be more inclusive of women as well as people of color, it’s important to share the stories of those who have realized success both in education as well as the music products industry.

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

Trust your instincts – chances are you’ll be right on target 99% of the time! When unsure, it’s important to look to the women who are viewed as leaders. We should then ask ourselves how these esteemed leaders would respond. It is also important to build your own community of strong women who support and inspire each other! You will feel stronger knowing that others have been in the same position and attained success and fulfillment.

Toni Hosman

Toni Hosman is the school & solo performance marketing manager at Alfred Music and a private piano and vocal coach. She earned her B.A. in Music Performance from Westmont College. Beginning at the age of five she has been in shows such as La Cenerentola (Cenerentola), The Pirates of Penzance (Edith), and others. She’s currently a part of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale.

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

As a private vocal coach, I always encourage my students to discover what part of the music they are passionate about. Is it the structure/form (theory), the melodies/harmonies (composing), or singing/playing (performing)? If they are in high school, I open the question up even more to include music production, engineering, conducting, publishing, artist management, etc. Once they begin to form an idea of what part of the music they love most, I water that seed by introducing more of what they love into their lessons. For example, one of my piano students loved writing her own melodies. So I brought blank notation paper and showed her how to capture those melodies on paper. She didn’t even realize she was learning theory and how to compose!

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

“There’s more to music than just performing.” It wasn’t until later in college that I realized the various types of music careers available. It’s so easy to become locked into our instruments and focus solely on mastering them. It is up to the teacher to show their students there is more to music than just perfecting technique.

Kimberly Deverell

A wife and mother of two children, Kimberly Deverell has taught at the San Diego Music Studio since 1997 and serves as the studio’s director of operations. Kimberly has participated in the NAMM Music Advocacy Fly-In in Washington DC since 2016 to advocate for music education. Additionally, she is involved in the Smart Women in Music Foundation (SWIM). Kimberly has been elected to serve on the NAMM Board of Directors for 2019-2022.

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

I believe one of the best ways to support young women who are interested in working in the music industry is to be a resource! Expose them to information and encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. For example, the NAMM Foundation has established a Smart Women in Music (SWIM) scholarship fund that is specifically designed to guide and mentor young women considering a career in the industry. As professionals, we have access to this type of information that someone just starting out might not be aware of.  It is our responsibility to spread the word.

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

This is a piece of advice that I give often and that I wish someone had told me when I first started out in the industry 22 years ago; get involved! Join and participate in professional industry organizations, affiliations, coalitions, alliances, etc as well as tap into your local community. Not only have I grown professionally but I have made lifelong friends along the way. The value of being involved cannot be measured…it is priceless!  

Megan Ogden

Megan Lewin is Director of Bands at Westminster High School where she teaches concert, jazz, & marching bands. In addition, Megan is the woodwind tech for the Fairview Marching Knights & maintains an active private flute studio. She received her Bachelor of Music Education from The Hartt School and a Master of Music Education from the University of Colorado Boulder.  

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

As music professionals and educators, we need to show young women how many different paths they can pursue in the music industry and give them opportunities to find and experience their passions. We must show them that they are capable of anything, especially

in fields typically dominated by men and provide examples of strong female musicians from all walks of life.

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

I am grateful that I received support about working in music throughout my schooling. I was always encouraged to follow my dreams of being a music educator in band regardless of my gender. While we talked about gender bias in the band world throughout my undergraduate

and graduate degrees, I always felt that I still deserved my place there. I wish I had known how many modern women succeed in music when I was younger because while I face different challenges than my male colleagues, I thought I would have to fight a lot harder for opportunity and respect. I am empowered by the numerous successful female high school band directors in my field!

Michaela Graham

Michaela Graham received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from the Master’s University in Southern California. 

She currently works at Alfred Music Publishing as the piano workshop and choral reading session event coordinator where her passion for music and the industry shines.

How can we support young women interested in the music industry?

I believe that educating young women early on about the number of career choices there are in the industry would be immensely helpful. If teachers were able or willing to bring in music industry professionals in to talk to their class about what they currently do in the industry and the options they have, I think it would be extremely insightful for the students to identify their path.

What industry advice do you wish you had received as a student?

I wish I had known all the paths that were available to me in the music industry. So many students in college are focused on three main career paths in music: teaching, performing, and writing. It became clear to me that while my love for music and the arts was strong and I wanted to work with that passion, I knew that those three career options were not for me. It took me a couple of years out of college to really realize the vast amount of options I had laid out before me. Marketing, production, editing, music technology, sales, customer service, social media, and my personal favorite, events are only a small few of the career paths you can follow within the music industry. The options are endless – don’t lose heart, just do your research!

I want to thank each of the incredible women who have given us their advice in this article. I hope that you can share these words and experiences with your female students. Empower your students by showing them successful women in music. Empower them by showing that a fulfilling future in music might be different than they planned. Empower your students by showing them that they are not alone. We are so much stronger when we support each other. I know that this kind of support and empowerment will lead to an incredible new generation of women in music.

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