Contrabass Conversations double bass life

506: Megan McDevitt on women in the bass world

July 23, 2018

Megan McDevitt has been covering a topic that is of critical importance: The Bass and Gender.  She presented a session on it at the 2017 International Society of Bassists Convention, and she had a session scheduled for the 2018 Golden Gate Bass Camp as well. 

Megan and I dig into femininity, masculinity, and the bass, and a whole variety of topics are covered through this conversational journey.  Thank you so much to Megan for enthusiastically covering this topic—I really hope you enjoy this episode and find it valuable food for thought!

Be sure to check out Megan’s Bass and Gender slides here, and click here to listen to Megan’s session on the topic from the 2018 Golden Gate Bass Camp.

Bass and Gender Talk

Be sure to check out Megan’s Bass and Gender slides here, and click here to listen to Megan’s session on the topic from the 2018 Golden Gate Bass Camp.

Megan also shares her thoughts on why she has been motivated to dig into this topic and also details about the specific audience for this talk.

She writes:

This talk is very similar to the one I have given at the ISB Convention, College Music Society Convention, and Atlantic Music Festival. In all of those settings, most of the audience was made up of professional musicians and college students. With an audience of people with world (and music world) experience, the discussion seemed to give clarity and understanding to their personal history. Many told me they found it helpful and illuminating.

But, for the Golden Gate Bass Camp version of it, most of the people in the room were high school and even middle school girls. I had considered adapting it, but ultimately made the decision that they needed to hear the truth. For this group, what I seemed to do was bring an ominous dark cloud over their future hopes. It was actually heart-breaking.

You can hear me start to discover this as I muddle through to the end of the talk. At the very end, a young lady asks me “how often” I experience discrimination or micro-aggressions and in the long pause I take before I answer I’m asking myself, “do I tell her the truth and wipe that look of hope from her face? Or do I sugar coat it, only for her to discover it on her own later?” I decided on truth. I’m not sure what the effects of my talk will be on these young women.

At best, they will be informed and prepared to face a world that won’t always take them seriously. Or, they may quit the bass because they don’t feel equipped to handle the gender dynamics. The latter possibility has bothered me for weeks. But, ultimately, I do think it is better to be over-informed than under-informed. I think I would have had an easier time if I had understood as a teenager some of the things I understand now. Hopefully, this will be true for them. And even more hopefully, maybe the world will have changed enough that their stories will be different.

Thanks for everything you are doing, Megan—you’re an inspiration!

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