|While many children are told that drums are an instrument for boys- and end up believing that women and drumming don't mix- today's young women are increasingly trading in their knitting needles for a pair of drumsticks. As more and more adult women become successful professional drummers, including Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz), Meg White (The White Stripes), Torrance Castellano (The Donnas) and Samantha Maloney (Hole), more and more young women are following in their footsteps by progressively taking up drums as both a serious and recreational past time; proving not only that gender is no longer relevant when it comes to playing the instrument, but also that "hitting like a girl" is no longer the insult it used to be.
"It never occurred to me that I couldn't play the drums because they were a 'boy's' instrument," says Bella Loggins, the 15-year-old daughter of major recording artist Kenny Loggins who aspires to be a professional drummer. "I've always thought that drums are the coolest instrument. I like the way they look, I like the way they sound and most of all I like they way it feels when I'm hitting them. Plus, when I saw that there are so many great woman drummers out there like Sheila E. and Gina Schock (The Go-Go's), I figured that if they can dominate from behind a drum kit, so could I."
Indeed, as the general public becomes more aware of its recreational and developmental benefits, drumming is increasingly being seen as a fun, creative and even therapeutic mainstream activity. From commercials and print advertising to hit TV shows and major movies, the rapidly growing popularity of drumming has been well documented in the media, with girl drummers often leading the way. This past season, for example, the living room set of Wanda Sykes' hit sitcom, "Wanda At Large", on Fox featured a complete drumkit and in a recent episode of Showtime's highly-acclaimed new series, "Dead Like Me", 11-year old actress Britt McKillip's drumming was incorporated into her character's principal story-line.
To both support and accelerate this trend, much of the drum industry's market development programs over the past two years have been aimed at getting more young girls to play the drums. Following statistics that indicated a more than 30% increase in enrollment of girl drummers at the DayJams summer music camps since 2001, industry leaders Pacific Drums and Percussion, Sabian Cymbals, Latin Percussion, Pro-Mark drumsticks and Evans drumheads took the opportunity to invest in the expanding market by providing a variety of instruments and accessories to all ten of the camp's U.S. locations.
Cherry Lane's Women Who Rock magazine was developed to tap into the growing women's music movement and has seen steady growth since it was introduced just a few years ago. In addition to printing nearly 150,000 copies of the bi-monthly publication, the magazine sponsors showcases, tours and other promotions featuring women musicians- believing that young women on the verge of deciding to play an instrument need more support, more information and more role models. According to WWR's publisher, Ross Garnick, the explosion of female players remains one of the music market's biggest bright spots. "How do you grow the market?" Garnick asks. "Maybe by reaching out to a new audience. Women are half of the population yet industry sources estimate that they are currently only 5-10% of the pop music instrument market. There's certainly a lot of female talent out there and the drum industry has been among the first to recognize the fact that women represent a huge opportunity for growth."
Although statistical data on this recent yet rapidly growing phenomenon remains elusive, researchers have reported that women spend $3.7 trillion annually on consumer good and services (PBS, 2002), $20 billion on home electronics (www.herhifi.com) and represent the largest buying group of pre-recorded music (RIAA). In addition, the buying preferences of contemporary women are clearly changing, with more than half of today's women choosing an HDTV over a diamond ring and a digital camera over diamond earrings (Reachwomen, 2002).
In any event, it's clear that the drum industry's expanded focus on women is definitely paying off. "I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade last year and I saw a lot of girls who, in the past, would have been drum majorettes," adds Garnick. "Now they're actually playing the drums."