Annie Ominous

When I was ten I decided that I wanted to learn to play the French horn. I had already been playing the flute for some time and was very advanced for my age so I figured that learning what is regarded to be one of the most difficult (and beautiful) orchestral instruments would be a fun challenge.
The music staff were delighted. I attended an all girls school and out of two hundred musicians there was only one other brass player. The reaction I got from the other staff was one of incredulity. “Isn’t that a bit masculine?” or “You haven’t got the puff.”
Physically the horn is challenging. It requires upper body strength; well controlled and powerful breathing; and dextrous lips to control the pitch. The latter feature often has men remarking that I must be “a great kisser” despite the fact that I would probably mash their lips to a bloody pulp with all the strength I have build up there.
A few years down the line and I am an advanced musician who attends many orchestras of high standards all over the country. Yet I still get asked if I am “in the right place” when I sit in the horn section with my instrument out ready to play. Apparently I’m “not curvy enough” to play the horn. When it comes to parts being allocated I find myself being overlooked in favour of less advanced (and larger) boys. I rarely comment since I just get called “insolent” for trying to get my hard work recognised.

On a related note, I sing in several choirs. I have a very low voice, so low that describing me as a low Tenor rather than a Contralto would be more accurate. I can sing high notes but they lack the strength which would be found in a Contralto and can be a bit screechy. Very few choirs allow me to audition as a Tenor because they do not consider it possible or natural for a girl to be able to sing over an octave below middle C. They also say that I would look out of place with the boys in the (compulsory) female uniform of a white dress as opposed to white tops and black bottoms. I would be far more comfortable in the latter.