New Music and Motherhood

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaperpeer-review



Though composers of all genders become parents, composers who become mothers often find themselves pushed to the margins of the new music world. Womens’ acceptance as composers often depends on blending in to a still male-dominated world: pregnancy and parenting draw attention to difference. For biological and societal reasons, the burdens of early parenthood often fall primarily on mothers. Too often this uneven division of labour continues for the duration of child-rearing. Even in ostensibly welcoming new music environments, mothers are often excluded, both intentionally and unintentionally, as when grant applications penalize gaps in productivity, residencies are offered in multiples of months, or concerts and networking events only take place at night. The still-prevalent, romanticized ideal of a composer – free, lone, answerable only to art – seldom describes a mother.

Fortunately, there are many ways ensembles, funders, and the new music community as a whole can make themselves more accessible to a wider variety of composers, including mothers. In this paper I present a number of ideas for increasing inclusivity. Adopting some of these ideas will benefit not only mothers, but the music community as a whole, and will positively diversify the kinds of music being created.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 5 Sept 2017
EventWomen's Work in Music - University of Bangor, Bangor, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sept 20177 Sept 2017


ConferenceWomen's Work in Music
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Author keywords

  • women, music, parenting, motherhood, accessibility, new music, composition