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Girls with guitars (and drums)
More women learn, teach male-dominated instruments such as guitars and drums. And companies are changing ads to target this new market.

 Danielle Allen (left) watches as instructor Brittany Frompovich wraps up their lesson on a recent evening at Picker's Supply in Fredericksburg.
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Date published: 12/12/2003

Women entering male-dominated field

When Brittany Frompovich was in high school, she wanted to learn how to play the electric guitar. At the time, her best friend--a guy--played and she wanted to be just as good, she said.

So a 15-year-old Frompovich bought a $50 electric guitar from a yard sale, and her best friend taught her.

But when she later asked him if she could join his rock band, he told her: "Rock 'n' roll is not something a girl should play."

The now 31-year-old Fredericksburg resident spends her time performing and teaching--male and female students--at Picker's Supply on Caroline Street.

Her advice to young women interested in rock 'n' roll: Don't give up.

"Don't look at yourself as a man or woman but as a musician, and be the best you can be," said Frompovich, who teaches guitar, cello and string bass.

For years, men have dominated the rock music industry. They were the ones strumming the guitar or banging the drums, while women admired them from a distance. Until now.

Female music artists such as Lita Ford, PJ Harvey, Melissa Etheridge, Ani Difranco and Liz Phair have made their way through the industry over the years. They also have inspired girls to pick up a guitar or drumsticks and rock on.

Heather Brown said Difranco is her role model, and she is trying to follow her lead.

"She is very female-oriented," Brown said. "She talks about having confidence in yourself, and that's very motivating."

The 20-year-old Fredericksburg resident takes guitar lessons from Kathy Horner at Apple Music on Princess Anne Street.

"Women have been popular in all forms of music throughout the world, except in the pop culture in the West," said Joe Kane, general manager at Bang Music on Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.

About 50 of the store's 175 students are women who are learning the guitar and drums, he said.

The independent music market helped women break into the scene, Kane said. Women such as Joan Jett worked through the post-punk-rock period in the 1980s like Courtney Love did in the grunge era in the 1990s. All-girl bands like the Bangles and the Go-Go's also were popular.

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