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Choral Potpourri: Choral Ethics; Bein’ Highfalutin

September 29, 2016 -

“It is impossible, in our condition of Society, not to be sometimes a Snob.” William Makepeace Thackeray Recently, I’ve become aware I am being referred to as Highfalutin, an Elitist, and a Snob. All those things are, apparently, bad things. In my own work, I suppose I am a bit

Dear Directors:

What uniform options are available for your transitioning transgender students when it pertains to performing ensembles? Our choir members have the option of tuxedos for males and solid black gowns for females. I currently have a student who does not identify with either gender. Has anyone else found themselves in situation? If so, what options were provided?

Thank you.
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1 day ago

Holly Botella, Kati Stewart and 7 others like this

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Jessica CorwinFrom the uniforms you describe, I would suggest they put together their own formal all-black outfit, which wouldn't stand out. It's reasonable to say that it requires your pre-approval so you know it's not revealing or visually disruptive.

1 day ago   ·  10

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Peter NiedmannI would let that person wear what they wanted

1 day ago   ·  5
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Caitlin MeyerI think it would would be appropriate to ask them what they would prefer to wear. The double bassist in my jazz band (also transitioning, f to m) prefers a tux.

22 hours ago   ·  2
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Jacki HafellnerHave them choose one or the other outfit so they still match

22 hours ago   ·  2

9 Replies

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Stephanie Myers FridleyLet them choose.

22 hours ago   ·  2
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Gayle TuckwoodGive everyone the choice of black pants/shirt or dress. Not all females like wearing dresses.

21 hours ago   ·  4

12 Replies

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Philip KeirsteadFriends, if you have an individual in your choir who is brave enough to come to you and say "I'm going through something in my life right now and I feel very uncomfortable in a tuxedo or a dress. Would it be okay if I wore [xyz]?" you have the option of being a beacon of understanding in an otherwise stressful life moment or saying "sorry, you have to wear the tux or the dress or you can't sing." This is a simple decision. No judge at a Festival would bat an eye at a student in an alternative uniform that was clearly well-thought out. And if you have audience members or other students who take issue with it, then you have the option of either educating people or playing the "because I said so" card.

21 hours ago   ·  19

2 Replies

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Amelia Nagoski PetersonLet them pick -- let everyone pick! And get a new uniform that doesn't reinforce the gender binary myth.

21 hours ago   ·  8

1 Reply

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Erick J. FiguerasBoth women and men wear pants suits. I've also seen both men and women wear tuxedos. I would think the tux would be a fair option for any singer. perfecttux.com/women-s-black-tuxedo-jacket-polyester-notch-lapel?language=en&currency=USD&gclid=C...

21 hours ago   ·  2
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Janita DucharmeThank you, everyone, for your input and suggestions. This has been on the forefront of my brain since our uniforms are already purchased and ready to go, but I already have several students going through transition. It has always been my thought to have students choose whichever they feel comfortable with, but this is the first time the student isn't comfortable with either of those options. Other suggestions I've heard is to have the student wear a black blazer with a white button up shirt and black dress pants, since it is more gender neutral. (Just sharing for others who may also find themselves in this situation.) I'm hoping to go back to this student with some suggestions. This student is transitioning M to F but is not yet comfortable wearing a gown in public. I want all of my students to look professional and uniform while still maintaining their identity within the ensemble. I truly appreciate everyone's input. These are great discussions to be having with each other.

18 hours ago   ·  1
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Stephanie Myers FridleyWe've changed to 1)black from the waist down 2)tops a combination of black/white/gray. It looks pretty cool and all singers get to express themselves.

17 hours ago   ·  1
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Eileen Ball WalentinSolid black of their choice. I have the same situation

17 hours ago
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Max MendezI've gone to a non-gender specific concert dress of all-black that outlines the options for everyone. So far, so good.

17 hours ago   ·  4
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Chrissy InserraI think that setting parameters within a color scheme works best. It looks good and allows students to perform comfortably. Part of our job as educators is to create an environment where our students feel comfortable to be themselves, especially since our speciality is an artistic medium centered around creativity and expression. Yes, visually, uniforms look professional on a stage - but if we are teaching and encouraging our students to be unique individuals in the classroom that should be represented through performance as well.

17 hours ago   ·  2
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Marci ShegogueIn my high school jazz band in the early 80's, it was tuxes (with flashy vests) for both... but girls didn't wear the jackets. honestly i think we could have chosen to wear the same as the guys or vice versus. We all wore pants, we all looked classy!

15 hours ago
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Tommy ZancaFormal dress, for either sex, no longer suggests "artistic excellence," as it once did. More and more, professional musicians are giving it up in favor of either all black or some more expressive option. I'm not sorry to see the tuxes and dresses go!

12 hours ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Graham LackLet them all wear pyjamas.

10 hours ago   ·  4
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Marci ShegogueWhen i taught at private school, we had to get creative... and that was actually fun as i themed the concerts. Nothing crazy but, some non-formal options were jeans and tie dye for a 60s concert, shades of blue for a water theme, black pants and brightly colored T-shirts for a joy/peace theme, and black pants white shirts or sweaters for a winter concert. This helped with accommodating kids with sensory and gender issues since they could choose their own clothing within the theme. With parameters of course.

8 hours ago
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Marci Shegoguei do think though that just asking the student what they'd feel comfortable wearing is your best bet. The choices of dress and tux are fair, and likely they will choose the tux. If they struggle with the choice just ask them what they'd feel comfortable wearing and help guide some options...

8 hours ago   ·  1
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Nick SullivanBlown away by how supportive and awesome some of these comments are

7 hours ago   ·  2
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Jonathan TalbergOur syllabi simply list OPTION 1: Black Dress from___________; fittings will be this day. or OPTION 2: Full tails from _______________representative will be here for sizing on this date. No need to mention gender at all.

5 hours ago   ·  3
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Benjamin Matthew CramerI've been thinking a lot about the uniform issue lately, not just for the sake of gender, but also how cost-prohibitive tuxedos/dresses can be. I worked with the Fourth Choir (London's leading LGBT Choir) this year, and what they do for uniform is all black with a jacket. Many of the trans members chose to wear a full suit, some chose skirt and blouse with jacket, but no one had the exact same configuration other than it being full black with a jacket. It looked professional and did exactly what the uniform is supposed to do, which is focus attention on the sound. The more we strive to absolute uniformity (same shoes, jewelry, tux jacket, etc.), the more we draw attention to the one singer with a slightly different outfit, which I believe defeats the purpose.

2 hours ago   ·  3

1 Reply

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Joan FearnleyThe Choral Journal of the ACDA recently had an article about gender in choirs. You will find it worth reading. I wish I knew off hand what that was, but I'm quite sure it was in the last year. You could write them. The discussion went beyond uniforms. It was all about how we address the choir. This becomes even more important when you have middle school choirs with boys that are still singing soprano. Worth reading.

2 hours ago   ·  2
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Erik RooneyHave you considered asking which the student would prefer? This can put the option in their hands, and you won't be accused of any wrongdoing in that case whereas if you forced your decision on them it would cause problems. Just have a one-on-one with them if that's comfortable. If this is a school setting you may want to ask an administrator their advice. But in the end the teacher/director makes all the difference.

1 hour ago

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