Australian trumpet player
Madison Foley is one of Melbourne’s most sought-after trumpet players. Madison began performing professionally from the age of 16 and Madison was a long-time touring member of alt-pop outfit Architecture in Helsinki and has worked with many of Australia’s greats such as Ash Grunwald, Jazzlab Orchestra and Big Scary.
Upon returning to gig life after the birth of her son, Madison faced the pressures of not only performing as a new mum but the pressures of pumping breast milk during gigs. The immense challenges she faced were evident with Madison pumping in some thoroughly unsuitable locations and experiencing a lack of support from venues and organisers. She realised the best way to engage venues and fellow musicians was to create an infographic that highlighted the challenges.
We also discuss the challenges of being pregnant and having a baby in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, and the judgement faced by gigging mums - that dads don't have to contend with, and why she doesn't get caught up in "mum guilt"
Music in this episode used with permission
When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for my guests' inaccuracies.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
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Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the art of being among the podcast where we hear from mothers who are creators and artists sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. My name's Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and mother of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness and a background in early childhood education. Thank you for joining me. My guest today is Madison Foley. Madison is one of Melbourne's most sought after trumpet players. She started performing professionally at the age of 16 and has been a longtime touring member of alt pop outfit architecture in Helsinki. She's worked with many of Australia's greats such as Ashkelon world, jazz lab orchestra, and big scary. After returning to gig life after the birth of her son, Madison faced the pressures of not only performing as a new mum, but the pressure of pumping breast milk during gigs. The immense challenges she faced were evident with Madison pumping in some thoroughly unsuitable locations, and experiencing a lack of support from venues and organizers. She realized the best way to engage venues and fellow musicians was to create an infographic that highlighted the challenges. We chat not only about this infographic, but we also discussed the challenges of being pregnant and having a baby in the midst of the COVID 19 epidemic. The judgment faced by gigging mums that dads just don't have to contend with and why she doesn't get caught up in mum guilt. Welcome to the podcast Madison, it's lovely to have you today. Thanks for coming on.
Thank you so much. I'm very happy to be very excited. So you played the trumpet.
Tell us how you got into playing the trumpet.
So my, my dad was a brass band still is a brass band leader in the community and Tom music at school. And so he came around to our primary school actually. And they had all the instruments out so they were starting a primary school band program. I was all of five years old at the time, I think maybe six. And I walk up to the guy, I'm precocious little six year old and I go hi, I want to know, which is the loudest instrument I want to play that one and so they had me a corner the rest is history. You know so going up through you know, started in primary school went through the local community bands and into high school played the whole way through. You know, I ended up doing it at university and you know, just never put it down again since I was five years old, basically from a couple of small breaks but yeah, that's pretty confident in my life.
So what how many instruments do you play? Well look,
well I played the trumpet Well, poorly a lot of them I can play very bad keyboard and very very bad bass. Nearly no mostly bad drums can play a little bit of trouble I can play most of the brass instruments I can play a bit of trombone a bit tube or a bit of French on although my trombone playing sisters would probably beg to differ. But you know, they've not none of them really get a lot of love. Now it's mostly just the trumpet. Because at some stage in your life, you kind of have to focus in on one thing which has never been my strong point. I've always been someone who does everything so well I can play the trumpet
so I read that you started playing professionally when you were 16 So what sort of gigs we did you start off with what was sort of the stuff you were doing at that age.
Um, so at 16 I was my mom would take me down to the pub to go and watch Friends of mine Johnny wonder Pat, who I still play with now all of what that 16 years later so that was they were some of my first gigs I go down to the pub and just sit in with them. I learned a few horn lines to some tunes. They just played covers on a Sunday afternoon and they you know, they thought it was great there was this you know little 16 year old super key and little Maddie going Hi, will you let me play with you. And then I also at school we formed a little jazz group and did you know gigs for like 50 bucks each or whatever, just whoever would hire us just playing some jazz standard. So which that group actually have gone on to all be quite prolific muses themselves. There's Cleo Rana, who now plays rock winds and tours around the world with Angus and Julia Stone as Nick Abbey who's over in mapa. Now and I think he teaches there and will Morrissey, who played He's with Vance Joy, and it's all just, you know, everyone from that little group just ended up going on to do amazing things. It's pretty cool to look back on that now. But you know, there those were mostly my 16 year old gigs either at the pub or at random corporate events that wanted to hire some kids really cheap,
basically. Do you so what did that sort of been leading to? You mentioned other people that you've you were with did certain things What have you done then since since those 16 year old days.
So since then, I, I studied at the VCA. So I did the improvisation course there, which is jazz. And, look, I'm basically, I'm a freelance music. So I will do literally anything that anyone calls me up to do so long as it sounds like a bit of fun, but there's a bit of money in it. So I've, you know, I've done small, small group jazz, I've done plenty of big bands. So currently play with the jazz live orchestra, and helped organize that one as well. Both Dan McKenzie big band, and a few others around the place. I was in the touring band for architecture in Helsinki for years and years, which was really, really fun, we got to play some amazing concerts to 1000s of people. And, you know, I've done plenty of corporate gigs, or a lot of corporate gigs. Plenty of them going around. My current my current project, which is probably the thing I'm most excited about, in all of my music career so far is a band called falls. And it's a 13 piece, Americana, pop, rock, everything. So extravaganza, it's just the most joyful band I've ever played in without any offense to any of the other major bands are playing. It's just, it's a, we call it the love cult, because everyone just loves each other and loves making music together. So that's been that's been getting really big and going really well. But of course, with COVID, a lot of our grand plans of keep falling away, we're supposed to be touring in about six weeks time, up to New South Wales and Queensland, to do Caloundra and, and a blues fest, and Nashville, but all of those things are not looking super likely. But hopefully, hopefully fools keeps getting out there and keeps getting some of those very cool gigs and planning tours overseas and everything. So it's exciting times for that. And that's nice, because that's something I get to be really creative with as well, all the other, you know, pop groups I've been in have been more, you know, this is the song, this is your home lines, play them now kind of thing. Whereas this one, I'm helping to write all the phone lines, we're writing songs off together. So it's a real kind of combined effort with 13 people, it's very,
that'd be like controlled chaos, almost 13 People input.
absolute chaos. It's hilarious, but it's just the most fun I have doing anything musically. It's so great.
Oh, that's awesome. Because I guess you're doing a lot of corporate gigs, you'd sort of be doing the songs that people know you'd stick to your standards. And, you know, you'd be limited, I guess to what you could do. So this would just be like, you know, open the floodgates off you go have fun with that. Yeah,
absolutely. I mean, you know, the jazz stuff is really creative as well. And, you know, if, if I was so inclined, you know, there's, there's plenty of creativity, I could follow in there, but I just don't have I don't have the focus to kind of sit down and write a whole set of tunes myself and you know, kind of get that all together. It just takes so much work. So it's something that I have done in the past, something I maybe would do in the future. But for now I'm kind of letting that one, you know, the the jazz side of things. I'm just doing the big bands and then letting the creativity come out in
falls. Wow, that sounds awesome. So I've got to ask you, did you ever come to Mount Gambia for generations in jazz?
Yes. As Gambia tragic I still am I've you know, I forced my school to let me take my big band there. That was like, now Gambia was a life that was I lived for me, you know, that early weekend, in May, every year, I went to Wellesley College, which was you know, a big kind of big band school, my dad actually took the band there. So it was all we ever talked about from like, you know, about October through to May everything was about generations in jazz and you know, going into there and getting like just getting exposed to all those amazing music shows on the stage was amazing. And then going back as an as an adult and as a teacher has been really lovely as well and kind of seeing it change and into something completely different now. It's been really nice to be part of that and share that with my students now and see them experience that joy. Pretty cool.
It's growing so much. I remember mom taking me when we were kids, when they used to be Girl, I think her name was Kelly. And she played saxophone on on her head Sunday. And I remember seeing her play. We're only at this Robert Hillman Theatre, which I'm not sure if you're familiar with, but it's basically your normal size data. Yeah. And now it's grown to I don't know how many 1000s people, it's the biggest tent in the southern hemisphere. Like all this, it's gone bonkers. And it's so wonderful. We've missed a couple of years.
I remember seeing Kelly early as well, I've played in a lot of women's section with her since she's one of the ways to play with the mice. So
if you ever see her, tell her I remember seeing it when I was a little girl, I would have only been probably, I don't know, to 1213, maybe maybe a bit older. But yeah.
It's such a generational thing. And my whole family are involved, you know, because my dad took the Wesley guy and now takes the St. Leonard's band, my sister was taking the law, the whole band, to just schools in Melbourne, my younger sister was taking the band from Caulfield, like it was you know, we had all of us there, my uncle was volunteering there. So when you you know, every year we get a family photo at generations in jazz, and just all have a laugh about the fact that the whole family is still there, we just can't get away from it.
Just let me speak for union come together in my
life, it's a real shame that hasn't been able to happen the past couple of years
you been able to do any teaching during COVID, like you're you locked down in, in Melbourne,
it's great. Because I've been basically I've been filling in for the girl that was filling in for me at the school, so I I've been able to, you know, do my teaching, go back look, after Sam come back, you know, do another class go back and kind of share those duties, which has been really nice. It's actually been quite handy for me in terms of the thing locked in. And, you know, I've got all my resources from last year. And I'm probably one of the few teachers who actually quite enjoys online teaching, I love the challenge of it, you know, having to find different ways to present it and different ways to engage students using the technology. And it's just incredible how much we can do from home, you know? Yeah, I've been doing a fair bit of teaching from there. And then all these other little bits and pieces of you know, everyone's getting into the lockdown recordings again. So I did one last week, I think, for all day for it, which is like a kid's band slash jazz band, which is pretty fun. Falls, we're doing another one this week. We were doing one every couple of weeks back last year, which was very fun. So you know, it's, it's kind of, it's nice to do things in a different way and just change it up a bit. So I like looking at the positives here. And you know, just different sets a different way of living, but I kind of like it. My partner and I were supposed to get married last year, and then we're going we're gonna go on a great European adventure. We put all this cash aside, we've been saving our butts off to, to do all of that. And none of it happened. So and then I was getting maternity leave. And he's, he's kind of back at work now. So we've been lucky throughout all of it that we haven't had to struggle with gigs being canceled and stuff. I mean, we've lost plenty of money. But yeah, it's we've been thought more fortunate than others.
So you mentioned Sam then so tell me about your little person.
Sorry, my little person he's about is just about 10 months old. He is the absolute life of my life is the best thing that's ever happened. You know, I was very happy and very fulfilled person before having a kid. But I always knew I wanted a baby. I always not always know so I was terrified of children until I was about 23. And then I actually looked after one of my trumpet idols Ingrid Jensen in New York. I actually helped babysit her baby a few times just through you know, mutual friends and I was there and I didn't have a job and ended up kind of nannying for a couple of weeks. And I was like, actually, I love children. This is amazing. And from then on, it was like, Alright, this is something I want to do in life. So then, yeah, being with my wonderful partner, Carlo. I mean, we knew each other back when I was probably 1718 Just hanging out in the music crowds because he's a saxophone and woodwind player. He does all the jazz gigs and stuff but more so now he does in musical theater. So he plays for all Big shows. So we just knew each other through mutual friends for years and years, and then actually, jokingly got engaged about 10 years ago, I called the bouquet and I said, I'll call I don't have anyone to marry. And he said, Don't worry about it, I'll marry you. And I know, okay, and then, you know, like another, like, five or so years down the track. We ended up, you know, finding each other and going, Oh, this is a pretty cool little thing. And, you know, as things went along, and you know, from the start, I was like, I want to have kids just so, you know, this is a thing, and we were both very, you know, by very happy with that path. And then yeah, we kind of decided to, you know, not stop trying, but you know, not prevent anything and just see what happens, just throw caution to the wind. And, you know, lo and behold it a year and a half later, little Sam came into the world. So we found out we were pregnant, just at the very start of COVID. So it was kind of pretty scary times. And, you know, it was a bit of a surprise, because like, yeah, we've been going along for however long and going okay, like, you know, it's not gonna happen yet. That's all right. And we've been planning our wedding. So at the start of last year, we actually went, you know, what, maybe this year isn't a good time, maybe we should like, wait a little bit longer. And you know, until the timings a bit better. And as soon as we said that, of course. They got me pregnant. And yeah, then had, you know, nine months later, we had little Sam and so he's, you know, he's crawling now he's walking. Now he talks a lot like his mum. And like his dad, really. But he looks like me. So he's, he's good. Because of the pregnancy found out on the first of March, which, you know, thinking back to the timeline, that was kind of when things were starting to creep out of China and into other countries. It hadn't quite come to Australia yet. There was only maybe a couple weeks shy of that. But it was on its way. I remember coming out of staff briefing in the morning. So I was working. At the time, I was working full time as a head of Performing Arts. And I was also studying part time, 20 hours a week and doing gigs as well. So I was pretty busy. And I just I just handed in an assignment on the day, we found out I'd handed in my second last assignment, so I was exhausted. And we came out of a briefing like the next day and, you know, our, our principal and said to us, Look, we have to start being really careful, this thing is going to come to us, it's going to get very serious. And I was walking with a colleague and she said, Oh man, my my sister in law's pregnant, how much would it suck to be pregnant right now, and I just started bawling my eyes out on my way to my house drove off is just cry. Because I just thought, this is such an unknown. We don't know what this thing is. We don't know what it means for pregnancy for you know, an unborn baby, for a young baby, we just don't know.
And so it was a pretty challenging time, mentally and emotionally. You know, and then in the weeks to come, you know, I had a lot of gigs that I just, I was so scared of what would happen if I got COVID. And it turned into almost like an anxiety about you know, if I get COVID The baby's not going to be okay. So I had to cancel geeks, but I couldn't tell anyone I had to I was working from home for school well before anybody else was, but I couldn't tell anyone why I couldn't come in from meetings. I couldn't come in, you know, it was all very, like, keep me away from everyone. And my principal was really supportive of that. But I think my pregnancy was probably the worst kept secret in Melbourne. Everyone just just looked at me when I okay. Yeah, we figure why you can't come in, but nobody can say anything. Yeah, so it was tricky, because we had to like, you know, keep up pretenses of I've just got a pre existing condition, but everyone knew exactly what was going on. So yeah, you know, then moving along, it was it was tricky, kind of going through and not being able to have family around during the lock downs. I mean, my My poor mom, you know, didn't really get to see me pregnant very much. I just send her photos all the time. And that was that was really tough for her as well to because she lives all the way over the other side of town. There was no way we could even catch up for walks or anything like my sisters live close, Carlos family live close, but my parents live quite far away. And so just not getting to see them. I think I didn't see my dad through the whole or maybe once through the whole pregnancy. It was really tough and definitely took it out. I'll emotionally and in, played on those anxieties a lot. And then I've got a bit sick later on in the pregnancy I got had gestational diabetes, which was an it was a late diagnosis, and I had to be admitted to hospital. And it was all of these things, and it kind of all just snowballed. And, you know, it was, yeah, by the time he came, I was ready to not be pregnant anymore. But then at the same time, you kind of look back and you go, you get to those last few days, and you go, Oh, I kind of like him being in there. And like feeling the cakes, and I like, you know, not having a baby to look after 24 hours a day just yet, you know. But yeah, we ended up ended up getting induced because of the gestational diabetes. And they thought that he was already four kilos at 36 weeks old, or 36 weeks gestation. So they were like, We need to get this child out. Otherwise, he's going to destroy, he did anything. He destroyed me coming out, they had to use the forceps. And, you know, he was he was in all kinds of all kinds of stress and whatnot, but still managed to have a vaginal delivery, which was wonderful. And had the epidural already. So I was having an absolute ball in that room. I just like, I got in there. And I was like, put this thing in my back auto kit as early as possible. I just don't want to feel a thing. And I'll tell you what, we were sitting there. We had disco lights going. We had like people on FaceTime. We were playing games, we're watching TV, we're hanging out chatting a few naps, by the time you just like, ah, be cool, that's fine. It's great, I would highly recommend doing it.
I want to ask you, I have never played a winning strip. I'm a singer. So I struggled a lot when I was pregnant, breathing and getting the air in the diaphragm. Really? Was that an issue for you like physically being able to play?
Absolutely. I mean, I think in some ways, I'm kind of grateful for having been in lockdown for a lot of the pregnancy, especially the lighter part for that reason, because I didn't ever have to push myself to a point where I went, No, I can't do this anymore. Because all I was doing was, like I said, like ISO recording, it's kind of thing. And so I could do as many tapes of them as I needed, I could do them in a few shots. And I was like if you say that the law schools recording, I had call it pregnant Tammy and continue to be like I mean, it was hard enough, just going for a walk around the block, let alone getting enough air to play the trumpet. So I think if if I hadn't been in normal life trying to do that, I think there probably would have come a point where I just would have had to go no more. So it's kind of nice that I never had to make that decision and and push it to that point. I just got to maybe 30 about 34 weeks and I just mind you this column I can't do anymore. That's fine. I've gotten up I don't need to I was still playing for work up until that stage just playing along with my students and whatnot. But yeah, definitely the breathing thing is hard. Luckily, you know, as soon as the baby's gone, like that all goes you know, your organs move back into place, and it's like they're so similar singing and brass playing. It's all about the diaphragm and all about the, you know, the way that you use it air and the speed of the air and everything just would be really hard. But I've read about people playing trumpet up until 3839 weeks, you know, I think it can happen, but I think those people are very special.
I first came across you on the motherlode website. And you've done this amazing article and infographic about the challenges of pumping while you're digging, and I just related to that instantly, and I was like, oh my god, I get this totally I understand. I've pumped in some wacky places and some weed times and I thought, This is wonderful. Someone's actually done something about it. So tell us how that came about. Well, I'm
trying to do something about it. You know, it's it's such it's probably the biggest challenge I've faced as a parent. Which sounds like it sounds so trivial, but people don't understand how hard it is and how demoralizing it is to spend all of your break sitting in dingy toilet stall, trying to keep all your beautifully sterilized equipment still sterile when you know the pits all over the floor. And it's like, it's really tough. It kind of came about I have when so when I was pregnant through lockdown, I had to really seek out some opportunities to talk to people who are also pregnant. And it just so happened that there were seven other female users in Melbourne, who I knew who were also pregnant. And like so one kind of emailed me and then said, Hey, Maddie, I saw you're expecting a baby. So a week. And then another one that hey, Maddie, yeah, we're also pregnant. All right, like, and so it just kind of, they all started writing to me, and I went, Wait a second, maybe we could turn this into a group. So we started our, our, what do we call it music moms group. And it was a, like a Facebook Messenger group, pregnancy support group, we do zooms kind of every week or two, and just talk about what was going on how we were feeling shared, you know, experiences of pregnancy, all of our fears about, you know, post, you know, giving birth and what that would look like, how we were going, you know, everything and it was just the most beautiful group, and they still are the most beautiful group of humans who just kind of pump each other up and keep each other going. And so now it's turned into from a pregnancy group, everyone's now had their babies, and it's a, it's a, you know, parents group, and we catch up, you know, pretty locked down, we we catch up every so often we get our Barb's together, they have a play, we have a talk or a drink, or beer or whatever we can do. All the guys come along, as well. They're mostly musicians, as well. And so it's turned into this amazing kind of support group. So when I was, you know, early on, when doing lots of gigs, through that kind of, you know, summer, you know, February, March, April, May season when things were really busy. And I was going out, you know, two, maybe three nights a week, and, you know, pumping in all kinds of places. And it was just feeling so hard. I mean, I got to the point of wanting to either give up and just, you know, go with formula, or, you know, if I'm doing it felt overwhelming, you know, having to take all of the equipment, you know, you're in these, you know, you're in a nice dress for the gig and you have to get the whole dress off, you have to put everything on you have to strap the things in, you have to plug them in, you have to turn the thing on, then you have to sit there for 15 minutes, then you have to wash everything. And then you have to get all back into your little box and into the bag. And the whole process takes the entire break if not longer. And I just so I'd be writing to my news. Oman's groups just being like, guys, is anyone else finding this really hard? And it was it was a shared experience that we were all going? How, like, how can we make this any better? How can we then it's so hard to, you know, keep pumping and keep doing this in the way that we're doing it. Some of the mums are amazing. And they will just like pull out all their gear and pump in front of anyone and sit there in the front row during the set break or whatever, and do it for me. I couldn't I couldn't get across. I ran having like literally having my nipples out in front of people. I'm very happy breastfeeding in front of people because there's a baby's head there, you know, but pumping feels a lot more exposed. And so I tried to think about how we could possibly just inform people of what you know what, what it is why it's important how they can make it easier. I was inspired by a Linda chintzy, who's in our museum moms group. She's going back. She's the leading Moulin Rouge. And she was saying you know that the the company have made all these amazing accommodations. She's got a five month old, I think I'm really sorry, forgot that wrong. But she's got a little Holly rose. And they've made all of these accommodations to make sure that she can keep pumping and have Holly there to feed and have her partner there to bring her in and all of that. And I thought, you know if they can make those accommodations, maybe other people can do. So I was doing I did three gigs for four gigs for the mid summer festival in Melbourne. And I just put it out there and I just wrote to the people who are organizing the gig and said, Hey, I'm a breastfeeding mom. Here's some things that would be really good if I could have my own room to pump in or just a private room with a door that I could just say to people hey, I'm going into pump right now. You know if I could have a fridge to store the milk in if I could have access to a sink so these are just all the things that the the IDA or the you know, Fair Work actually say that you need to have in your workplace, but obviously it's harder when your work pace changes every week. And you know what? They came back and they said yes, and they they gave me those things and I went ah But this is possible. It's not always possible. But it is possible a lot of the time for people to actually organize these things. And they were beautiful about it. They had my name on the door and they have my partner's name. They'd put everything in there that I could possibly need. And I just, I thought, let's try and make this people know that they can ask for these things. And so I started to become more vocal about it. And then, using those new moms groups, I actually workshopped and found out what they were finding hard, what their suggestions are that we could put into it and came up with this infographic that basically just says, Here, here's a bunch of things you can do. Firstly, here's why it's important, we need to keep our milk supply up. And to do that, you have to pump every three to four hours, we need to be able to have a space to do it, it takes 25 minutes, at least, you know. And so here's a list of things that you can do as a bandleader, as a venue manager, to make sure that people who are pumping or breastfeeding can feel comfortable to do it at your venue or at your gig. And the the response when I put it out to Facebook was just amazing. Like I was overwhelmed, I thought a few people would sit and be like, oh, cool, that's great. I might borrow that and show it to some people like it got shared over to New Zealand, it got shared all around Melbourne and, and a bunch of different places. And I think people have really taken it on board. I know a lot of people that I work with have been like, you know, we're going into a set and the set time has been changed. They've been like, hey, Maddie, if you need to leave early to go and pump, you know, that's fine, but set time has changed. Just leave whenever you have to. So they're making those accommodations. I mean, I really do, but it's nice to just be considered in that way and know that we have the option to like, hey, if I really need to park right now I can just walk off and go kind of thing. So it's it's been quite a journey and then during the motherlode motherlode interview was amazing as well, Georgia fields is incredible. And you know, made it all sounds so lovely and succinct or my you know, ramblings
but it's, it's been a real journey. And I kind of coming over the other side of it now, you know, being 10 months old. You know, he's he's getting to the stage where he only has like, a few feeds a day. And it's like, wow, I survived that I survived that having to pump and having to feed every three hours, when those days where I was out at a gig out of town, and I was, you know, out of the house for 12 hours. It's like, it's a lot. And I feel quite, I feel quite proud of myself and all the other moms that have done that and been through it and made it you know, made it work.
Yeah, absolutely. No good on you. I was so impressed when I saw it. And it probably I can think of times when it would have come in really handy because I, I guess I never thought to ask it was never it never occurred to me that that I could ask it was just like, well, this is your thing. So you need to sort it out. I never sort of thought I never Yeah, it just never occurred to me. So well done you round of applause.
On the interview with the motherlode, you said something like times when you've been pumping in a really yucky toilet stall and, you know, close to tears, and you wondered, was it worth it? Probably not at that moment, but later did you sort of you obviously thought that it was because you kept going it was really important to you to be able to maintain that milk supply for your baby. But also, you know, it was important for you to keep playing and to to keep that part of your life really active as well.
Absolutely. I, I, I know that I'm a better mom, because I have my music as well. I really feel that deep down in my soul that they're having the music especially, you know, and like doing the corporate gigs and everything, it's a bit of fun, you get a bit of money, it's pretty good. But they're things like falls and those jazz gigs that really feed my soul. I come back home and I'm completely revitalized as a parent, you know, getting that time away from Sam, who is the most important and the most beautiful thing in my whole entire world. But getting the time away from him, actually makes me appreciate him so much more. I mean, I was he was six weeks old when I did my first recording session back. And they were I was out of the house for maybe eight hours. I mean, I hadn't been away from him for that long, obviously. And it was you know, I thought I would really struggle. But it was it was an amazing recording session, syncing south with falls and I came home and I just felt I felt like myself again. After six weeks of being completely attached to this small human and just being at his whim, whatever he needed. He needed. Get on that moment. And, you know, I got to go away, step away from it and come back. And I was so grateful for that time. And I'm also so grateful that my amazing partner Carlo, you know, does everything he's, he's not scared and looking after the baby out or you know, and he's been hands on from the very start. I mean, because there was no theater, you know, for the first eight months of Sam's life Carlo has been with us, aside from his teaching pretty much full time. So we've been able to really manage that between the two of us. But yeah, they're having the gigs to go to, I think keeps me sane. You know, before I went back to teaching, it was the thing that kind of made me feel like me again. And I think that's so important for, for creative parents to still have those things I, I was never going to put down my trumpet and not play as a parent. And also, I'm a really stubborn human being. And if someone tells me like, Oh, you're not going to want to play much once here, once you have your baby, you're going to want to just stay home. I was like, I heard shorts your show. Cool. Cool. Cool. All right, watch me go. And so now I'm gonna be a bit more determined than before, I think I've been practicing even more than I was, before I had a baby, because I'm just like, You know what, I want to go out there and show people that being a mum. I mean, being a parent in general, but especially being a mum does not stop you from being an amazing musician, and amazing artists and amazing teacher, whatever it is that you do. It's another thing in your life that is very, very important. And yes, your priorities change. But it doesn't stop you being amazing at what you do in that moment. And I've had people kind of, you know, second guests that I've had people be like, oh, so all your backup gigs. Oh, really? That's, that's soon? Oh, that's interesting. And you know what I just say to them, I'm like, why wouldn't I be? Actually, I think you'll find I'm paying better than I was beforehand, so that
you've put so much effort into, like all the background, they just see you at the gig, they haven't seen you prepare everything at home, have the milk ready, you know, do everything you need to do to make sure you can do this gig, because the similar thing happened to me. I did my first gig that we did the when he was seven weeks old. And same thing someone said to me, oh, where's your baby? And I was just like, if you knew what I have, I've moved heaven and earth to make this day possible. So I was playing up at Coonawarra, which is about an hour away. And I was there for about five hours. So I was away from him for a while. thought you've got no idea.
I That's my that is my pet peeve. And people ask it in a nice way. And they ask it with the most like sincerity and they go, oh, where's the baby? And that's one question that I just can't stand because it just kind of grates on me because it makes you feel like, oh, I should be looking after, should I be looking after the baby, we're like, you know, it's like the babies with his dad, he's fine. You've done so much to be able to, you know, go into a gig now isn't just like you know, or you've done your practice on the days before you just you know, get your tribe and walk out the door. Going to a gig now means scheduling time in for practice every day leading up to it to make sure that you're on top of it, which I reckon I'm more on top of my gigs now because I have to schedule things I have to make that time doing all the pumping, getting the bottles ready, getting the food ready, making sure the babysitters sorted, making sure everyone knows where everything is, you know, what's the bedtime routine? You know, have I fed the kid now? Should I feed him right before I go? It's such a different thing now. And, and for people to be questioning that and be like, oh, where's the baby? It's something that really great for me. Maybe I should make another infographic about not asking that question. I think I just I'm very passionate about you know, I am you know, Loki quite a feminist. And one of the things that really bugs me is, you know, when I think about would people ask a dad about that? Would they say do you know, is their dad guilt? Or, you know, Dad comes into a gig gig or goes to work and someone says, oh, where's your baby? That doesn't happen, you know? Or someone says, Oh, you're back getting already Wow, that's amazing, like, hold on you. That just doesn't happen. And so you know, the mom guilt thing. I think dad should be feeling it just as much and I'm lucky enough that my partner feels a lot of dad guilt. He comes home, you know, when he goes out to work and he calls me and he says, Can you send me a photo? I miss him? You know? And I think that the the feeling that it should be all on mums to be there and to be looking after everything. It's not fair. It's not equitable. Having said that, you know, we do of course, we miss our kids. Like, I miss Sam so much when I go out to a gig, I do miss him and I look at photos and I show everyone photos. You know, I miss him and I go, Oh, but no part of me ever feels like oh, I should be at home. It's not fair to him, because it wouldn't be fair to him if I was at home all the time, and I was a sad person because of it. And so that's why I just think you've got to look at the balance of things. Yeah, he's gonna miss me for a few hours, but I'm going to be a better mom because of it. And I really, truly believe that making, like doing the work that we do anything that makes you feel happy and passionate, you know, that makes you a better person and a better parent. And so you can't feel guilty for taking that time. And I really do I look at music completely differently. Now, you know, when I go out to do my gigs, it's not like, we're gonna go do a gig. Now it's like, this is my time, this is my time to do something that makes me feel really good, and nourishes my soul. And that's going to make me feel better about being at home. So, I don't know, if I answered the question at all, but my take on mom guilt, you know, don't feel it just don't cuz we're allowed to go out and do these things to our souls to, it's so important. I think moms often get put in until a man box. And people go, you should be looking after your kid, you know, you shouldn't be doing things for yourself. And that's that, that kind of thrown on my heart, like, you know, we completely surrender were expected to completely surrender everything about ourselves to be apparent. But it's just not feasible in the long run, if you want to be a happy and whole person.
I am a trumpet player. And I'm passionate about that. I'm a music teacher. And I'm very passionate about that, too. And I'm a mom, and I'm very passionate about that. And I can still be all of those three things. And they don't have to, I mean, they're going to impact each other. Of course they are, but they don't have to cancel each other out. You can't only be one of those. I mean, you don't have to just be one of those things. And, you know, I think keeping my identity has, like I said earlier, it's kept me sane, it's it kept me feeling like parenting is the most amazing thing on earth. And it truly is. Because I've been able to keep that part of myself and share with Sam to like, he's coming out to a bunch of gigs. He's got his little headphones on. I think the first thing the first gig he came out to potentially was New Year's Eve, and myself and Carlo were playing together. So my mom and my stepdad came along and held sat there, and he watched us play. And he of course, would have had no idea was going on because he was only like eight weeks old. But playing for Sam felt amazing. It just felt like a completely different experience to be able to share my craft with him, you know. And so I want that I want him to grow up knowing that that's a part of me, and also having that be a part of him and want him to be proud of me to I want him to see me on stage and see his dad on stage and go, Hey, that's, that's my mom. That's my dad, how cool is that? I just really want him to think I'm cool. That's what? Well, my musicians as well. So you know, I always saw them on stage. And it was just, I was so proud. I thought they were the coolest people ever. I was like, Oh my gosh, look at that singing and dancing around. It's so cool. And, you know, I just think it's such an amazing thing for kids to grow up seeing their parents, you know, pursuing their like, the things that make them happy and doing it publicly as well as even better.
Did it surprise you? You know, there's been so much change in terms of how breastfeeding has been accepted over the years. It's taken, you know, it's taken a while. But breastfeeding is commonly accepted pretty much everywhere now. Even if it might annoy someone. But Did it surprise you then that the pumping of the breast milk was just no one had any idea about it?
It? It surprised me because I didn't know anything about it. Yeah. So I had Sam and I like I knew about breast pumps. And I knew that you you could pump milk so that you can feed them from a bottle. That's all I knew. I didn't know about maintaining supply I didn't know about you know the supply and demand part of breastfeeding. I just thought the milk was always there and you just get it out when you want it kind of thing. And so finding out that this would be part of you know, leaving the house and leaving Sam alone was that I'd have to be doing this pumping. It was actually quite upsetting. Because you know, when I started the pump, I was like wow, this is pretty intense. It takes a lot of effort to Get everything on. And then you know, when I first started pumping, nothing was coming out. And so I really had to work on relaxing and you know, looking at pictures of Sam to try and you know, get the letdown happening. And then getting out and talking to people and finding out then that they knew nothing about it too, I actually wasn't surprised that they knew nothing, because I knew nothing about it. I'd never seen somebody pump before. I'd never talked to people about pumping before. So me being the loudmouth. I am, I went out and started telling everyone all about it, I get to a gig and be like, right, guys, I need to pump it this time. I need to pump it this time. Here's why I need to do it. You want to see the equipment? Look, here's some of my milk. Isn't this amazing? Like, how cool was the human body? And you know, a lot of people just said, Wow, I had no idea. But it didn't surprise me because neither did I. It's not really talked about everyone knows about breastfeeding. But not everyone knows about the pumping side of it. You know, or Yeah, it's, it's kind of it almost feels like it's a bit taboo. It's in the background, it's things that people don't see. And, you know, I've got a great friend of mine who had to exclusively pump for six months. And she said, by the end, she'd just walk around wearing a pumpkin no matter who was around because you just have to when you when you're exclusively pumping every three hours, it just takes up so much of your time and so much of your life. So it'd be great for that to become a little bit more visible. And that was part of you know, me getting this out there was trying to help people make it feel more normal.
Hmm. Yeah, that's great. When you did find out about the effort that was involved, did you ever have a moment where you just thought, Oh, it's just it's too much. I just did you ever have that moment where you thought now I can't do it.
Like, it would have only been fleeting moments, I think, once I was pumping at and no human being to this venue in Melbourne, the night cat, it's known as one of like, the dingy highest venues, but also super fun. But you know, those are the nightcap toilets. So the way I used to go as a 17 year old when I was too drunk to like, you know, open a door and be like, you know, and I was pumping in there and sitting on the thing and just going, Oh, I can't touch anything. And I was like, this sucks. This sucks. Like, should I just do formula, but I really, I really just wanted to, and it was almost like a challenge within myself. I just wanted to see how long I could exclusively feed for and, you know, I just felt I feel so privileged that I was able to breastfeed, and not everyone can, you know, for medical reasons for you know, mental reasons, mental health reasons, there are so many people that just can't do it. And I you know, it came so easy to me, I was like, I'm not, I'm not going to take this for granted. It's amazing that I can give my kid the very best nutrition in the whole world. For him. There's nothing better than breast milk. I'm gonna make the most of this. And so I you know, I had my moments of wanting to give up, but they were fleeting. And you know, I kept going with it. And I'm still going with it now I still periods about, Gosh, about six times a day at 10 months old, which is a lot. But you know, we just do it. And it's, I've not ever been, you know, some people. You know, they say I love breastfeeding so much like it's a really beautiful bond between me and my baby. I'm not one of those people. I don't know why I didn't get that gene that was like, Oh, this is so beautiful and loving. I do it because it's easy and because it nourishes him and you know there are bits of it that I like it's just a lot easier mostly. You know, but we've we've kept going and I'm really glad that I did.
Like you don't yeah. There's a Fire Island article on the motherlode of he's sitting on your lap, got the trumpet and it's absolutely beautiful.
Well, my partner's in that photo as well. He was he was filling in with full so the two of us were at rehearsal. We were like What are we going to do we take the kid with us we put on his little headphones and he came into rehearsal. It was actually it was a pretty special moment for him to be you know, for my my whole family to be there with my full family. It was it was really lovely. And that's that photo is actually you know, the first one on social media of him is we haven't put any photos on but that just felt so special. We need it to share it. It is
lovely to be able to continue that family tradition like your parents involved in their you and involving your son I think that's just beautiful, musics awesome.
Always been such a such a positive thing in my world in every way possible that it just it feels like something that I want him to experience as well not necessarily to become a, you know, not to become a professional musician, but just to be able to have all of those amazing social skills that come from working in a team, you know, the the cognitive skills that come from learning music, and just the joy that comes from making music. I mean, if if you can, if you can do it, why wouldn't you? Why would you share that with your family around the piano when we were kids and dad would be playing, playing songs to us. And we just thought it was the most amazing thing ever. And I looked back at that, and I go, I'm so glad that we were introduced to music at such a young age and given the option and it was always an option, but we were given the option to pursue it in whatever way we wanted to. And we all ended up as brass players doing music degrees. Sorry, dad, he wanted doctors and lawyers.
So he started the the trend of the brass in your family. Then
my oldest sister started on the trombone. And then I did the trumpet. I'm the middle one. And then the younger one started on the corner as well. But I actually when I was in about year seven, I got the album's which is like the trumpet book. It's the book, you know. And I sat down and tried to play some of it with my poor little sister who was only in grade four at the time going, oh my god, I can't play there's nothing you just gotta you just play it you just do it like that. I wasn't a very good teacher then clearly. And the next day she put down a trumpet never picked it up again and picked up the trombone instead. I'm not playing the trumpet anymore, but it made me feel bad about it. Find matches a trombone player. Scottish philosopher have a lot of guilt about that. You talked about mom guilt. I've got sister guilt. Very good at the trombone now though, so it's okay. Maybe it
was meant to be maybe that was her path in life you just had to guide her slightly
she doesn't usually follow in my footsteps so you had to try other ones.
Also want to ask you you said before about you, your muse Imams? Did you find because you were friends before you had children? Did you find them? Did you find that that there was little comparison with your muse? Oh mums group.
Absolutely like that the museum moms group is super supportive. Everyone, you know, it's very real, we write about all of our challenges, you know, we write about all the really bad things, and we tell each other about the good things too. And everybody is like, there's no comparison, there's no, you know, oh, my, my child seems better than yours. Otherwise, I'd be losing pretty bad. I'm very, very high, you like it, you're right, like being already being friends. I mean, some of the a couple of the girls in the group, you know, I didn't know so well beforehand. And now we're also close, we, you know, text pretty much daily and just build each other up and just make each other feel like everything's okay. And everything's going to be okay. And I'm really lucky. Absolutely. My local parents group, there's a couple of girls in there who have become, you know, some of my closest friends, you know, and we, we really look after each other as well, you know, or living on the same street and, you know, supporting each other in that way too. So I think you can get lucky with the people you end up with, you can get unlucky, it just really depends. And I've had absolutely lucked out in finding, I even have a third mother's group. Another one. Everyone's just really amazing and supportive, and no one ever makes me feel like what my child is doing isn't okay. And I think that's such an important part of being, I think, especially among, you know, because we tend to be the ones kind of, you know, and this is generalizing, and it's not in every situation depends on your circumstances and the set of parents and whatnot. But we do tend to be the ones who kind of know where the milestones are meant to be. And we're the ones waking up generally every night if we're breastfeeding all through the night to feed the baby. So we tend to be the ones that end up getting sucked into those comparisons and those kind of competitions. And I think just being really mindful of making other people a never feel bad about what their child can or can't do. That be not, you know, not saying my child can do this to try and you know, show off but to be like, Hey, let's all rejoice in this together, my child can do this what new, you know, what is your child during this week that's really amazing and really special. Because I think it can turn into a bit of a competition. And that's, that makes me sad. But I'm so grateful that I ended up with all people around me who are just beautiful, and supportive and amazing, and I love them all so much.
Life after baby really has made me kind of consider how much free time I had beforehand, even though I was working, like I was doing like 70 hour weeks, and still getting to the gym three or four times a week and still had free time outside of that. And now it's kind of like, probably the biggest surprise has been just how time consuming a child is, you know, I kind of thought you put them down for a nap. And then they'd sleep for a couple of hours and you get stuff done. And then you come back to them. And my child, beautiful Sam, he is the most incredible child on the world does not like sleep, I think he's allergic to sleep. So you know, his naps are sometimes only 15 minutes. You know, if we get really lucky, it's an hour, it really, really lucky. I think once or twice, he's done an hour and a half on his own. And I think, you know, the big thing as a musician has had to be prioritizing and scheduling. So sometimes now I have to practice the trumpet with a mute in at 11:30pm. Because that's the only time I get to do it. And I think, you know, everyone said to me beforehand, like you, you you weren't even know what you used to do with all your free time. And I was like, Dude, I'm pretty busy. Like, I know what it feels like to not have free time. Now after having a kid it's like, I know what it feels like to never have a moment to yourself. Because literally now any. And I say literally in the actual way it was meant to be used. If I have free time I'm off into the studio to practice. If he actually goes down for a nap, it's practice time. And so now I pretty much don't ever have any time to myself without the horn on my face. And that's been that's been a bit of a shock to me. I think, you know, I would I would have loved to know that beforehand that it really is that intense. And I'm sure it will get easier as we go along. And as he gets older, you know that then if we add another one to the mix, we go through the whole thing again, and then it's even more chaotic, I'm sure. But yeah, I think that's probably been one of the most surprising things as a as an artist and a mum, kind of just how much I need to use any little scrap of free time to make sure that I can still maintain my craft.
Yeah, when I used to
sit down and do half an hour of practice, I reckon probably 20 minutes of that was like looking on Facebook or, you know, rearranging my books or, you know, playing with a little thing on the trumpet. Now, if I sit down to practice for half an hour, I am practicing hard for half an hour, because I know that there's not going to be another half hour or if there is that I've got to use that half hour really well, you know. So it really does change the way you kind of focus and knuckle down things because there's just no, there's no room for faffing. You just can't. Alright, yeah, laughing is faffing is canceled the moment that child comes out of you. Sometimes my sisters come over to look after Sam just so I can go and practice if I'm having a particularly hard day they live close, which is lucky. But I'll just be like, Hey, guys, I haven't been able to get anything done today. And they will just come over, they'll sit with them. You know, for an hour or two, I'll get some washing done, I'll jump in the studio or have a shower or whatever it is and, and having that support has made it all possible. You know, you just need people you need, you know, you need a village to make it all work. I'm so lucky that I have an amazing village around me. You know, and I know it would be harder for people that don't and I know of people who don't have family here and it's bloody hard. And I just I don't know how they do it. You know, single parents, I am absolutely in awe of anybody who raises a child alone. I can't even fathom how hard that would be. You know, so I'm very privileged to be able to make it work. And I feel I feel very lucky for that.
So there's some really exciting stuff coming up with falls. Hopefully we'll be doing a little mini east coast to the start of October may or may not happen. But then also we've got a gig in Maine in in mid October and another one in Brunswick, I think in November. So that will be very fun. Jazz lab orchestra is about to do recording for a new album, and they play at the jazz lab every month as well. COVID permitting. We've lost our first yard originally our last few unfortunately. But yeah, that's the main things coming up. They get on board.
Madison, I've thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you. It has been so much fun. You've given me lots of laughs today. All the best with your full ski and well done again for opening people's eyes to the challenges of pumping and returning to gigs. So yeah, thank you so much.
Thank you so much, Alison. It's been an absolute pleasure to be on the show.
If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, please contact me at the link in the bio. Or send me an email at Alison Newman dotnet