Dina Mancilla stands with her drum set. Courtesy photo.
Dina Mancilla stands with her drum set. Courtesy photo.

The first time I mustered up enough courage to post a video to YouTube showcasing my drumming skills, the first comment I received said that I played okay — for a girl. The second comment was overtly sexual in nature.

As a female drummer, I am often the recipient of either misplaced idolization or disparaging opposition. Some of the fans that I accumulate would rather focus on my gender (I’m a “female drummer,” not a drummer) or my looks rather than my musical abilities. Women are often judged by their appearance in every facet of life, and sadly the music industry is no different. I have had to overcome gender stereotypes because I choose to play genres that are typically not associated with women. I have had to work extra hard to prove myself because there is always a cloud of doubt that follows me.

Nonetheless, I have learned to use my drumming to channel my passion and help empower others through my videos, which are featured on YouTube and Hit Like A Girl, an international drum contest for women. I am extremely proud to see the international pool of talent that is competing and am proud to represent San Antonio. I hope my participation in this competition will inspire other local female musicians to showcase their talent and not be afraid to push boundaries.

The hurdles I have experienced as a “female drummer” represent a pervasive issue that plagues female musicians, artists, and professionals alike: the belief that women should be confined to a restrictive mold that prevents them from entering traditionally male-dominated industries. More than half of the world is comprised of women, yet there is a disproportionate amount of women who play music. Music education in schools is often limited and women are often discouraged from learning instruments like the drums. Girls typically play the flute or clarinet. Imagine the surge of talent the world would see if we only helped this untapped demographic realize their potential. The best drummer in the world may never have the opportunity to hold a drum stick simply because she does not have an opportunity to learn.

I am lucky to live in San Antonio. Our culturally rich city embraces the arts and provides an expanding music scene that allows local talent to flourish. It is here that I have had the opportunity to explore the bounds of music in an ongoing quest to find my niche. In my eight years of participating in the local scene I have had the pleasure of performing on the River Walk, Café College, White Rabbit, and more recently, playing the pre-party for the 2015 Maverick Music Festival. In the meantime, I hope you all check out my video for Hit Like A Girl, and I look forward to seeing you at a future gig.

*Featured/top image: Dina Mancilla with her drum set. Courtesy photo. 

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Dina Mancilla

Dina Mancilla is a San Antonian drummer.