When I took "Introduction to Music Education" my Sophomore year of college, my professor told us something that has stuck in my brain ever since. She said, and I paraphrase, "All [female] teachers should wear makeup." Her reasoning? Music teachers' biggest goal is to get the students to play or sing musically, passionately, and with so much expression. In order to get the students to perform with expression, they need to be able to see the teacher's expressions. After all, the ensemble is merely a mirror of the conductor. Is the choir standing with bad posture? The director is probably standing with bad posture. Is the ensemble frowning? Most likely the director is frowning. And so on and so forth...
Most directors I've had in my life have required that every girl in the choir wear makeup for the performances. And our hair must be off our faces...even the boys. If the boys had long hair they were required to pin it or slick it back for performances. Someone once told me, "90% of what an audience hears is what they see." Now, I don't know if that's a scientific fact or just a random number someone came up with to motivate their ensemble... but I agree that how you look affects how the audience interprets the music. An audience will never think that a surly-looking group sounds joyful. Isn't that self-explanatory? So, too, does your physical appearance and expression affect the ensemble of which we are leading.
So, back to the topic. Should music teachers wear makeup? In my opinion, yes. I always have and I always will. I always try to be well-dressed, well-groomed, "put-together," and professional-looking. For me, that includes wearing makeup. Studies have shown that women who wear makeup are viewed as more intelligent, more in control, and more confident.*
I want my singers to see a reflection of the music on my face. The beauty, the angst, the joy, the heart-ache. I want the choir members to see my facial expressions as clearly as possible. I don't want them distracted by my puffy under-eye circles, my occasional break-outs, or my red-puffy, allergy ridden nose. I also don't want them to be distracted by bright red lips, purple sparkly eyeshadow, or Cleopatra-inspired eyeliner. That's where makeup has gone too, far to the point of distraction, but that's a topic for another post.
So what do you think? Do you think all music teachers SHOULD wear makeup? Do you think it's essential to a good rehearsal or performance? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.
Follow up post to come - some mini-makeup tutorials and outfit ideas for teachers.