Hi! My name is Tess Fox and I’m a sophomore at the University of Idaho. I hail from Wenatchee, Washington, the very center of the state. I’m studying Journalism with minors in Art and Music. I spent my freshman year as an Applied Music and Psychology double major. Over the summer, I realized that music was not going to be the career path for me. It was a really difficult switch, leaving behind a close-knit department that felt like home. However, rekindling my love for writing, photography and creating has left me with a new energy and excitement for school. I spent a majority of my time in high school working on my high school newspaper as a photographer, and the photo editor during my senior year. This semester, I will be taking photos for Blot, the University of Idaho news magazine. I am really excited to be getting back into the swing of a fast paced journalism environment.
Outside of my major, I am involved with Jazz Choir 1, as well as working at Starbucks. Customer service is challenging but I get to say something most people do not: I love my job! When I am done with college, I hope to have a glamorous job as a photographer for a newspaper or newsmagazine in a big city with hustle and bustle. But if I am still working at Starbucks, I would probably be okay with that too. Who can say no to free coffee?
I am very happy I can write for the Women’s Center Blog this semester. As a female percussionist, I spent the last seven years working in a “boy’s club.” Stereotypically, girls predominantly play mallet instruments like bells, xylophone, vibes and marimba. Many girls joined concert band after taking piano lessons for many years, so it was natural for band directors to assign them to mallet instruments. My mom is a percussionist as well, and experienced many instances of discrimination due to her gender. Opinions and views have changed, but there is still ground to cover. I participate in summer music festivals in my hometown, and one summer I had one of these experiences at a festival. An adult male, upon seeing me, handed me mallet parts instantly. He did not ask about my experience levels in other areas, what I consider to be my strong suit, and what I liked to play. These are common questions when assigning percussion parts. He asked the boys this, once he had assigned me, the only girl, the mallet parts. There is no worse feeling than being marginalized, passed over for a job without consideration to my skills and strengths, and how I can contribute positively to the group, purely because I am woman. My mom has many, many more of these stories. It took many months of convincing for her directors to let her play what she wanted. I am grateful that I only have one major story of discrimination. I am also really proud to say that my mom has helped to pave the way for me, and female percussionists everywhere. The experiences of my mom and myself have given me a strong opinion about equal treatment and pay: it needs to be equal. When I apply for a job, my gender should be not an issue. I now have a passion to educate those around me about the inequalities in gender, not just in music, but everywhere, and how prominent they are in many fields still. To be able to raise awareness of this issue and expand my writing experience is a dream come true. And an added bonus of having my work online means that my parents read it! (Hi Mom!). Beyond gender equality issues, I also really enjoy writing editorials about politics and current world problems. I will always try to relate pieces back to being a student, or my life experiences, as that is what makes this blog truly meaningful. Enjoy!
For more about female percussionists, check out these links!
Meghan Aube’s thesis on the emergence of women in percussion
Editorial by Annie Chernow about her experiences in percussion
Women begin to break into the boy’s club of cuban percussion