Mothers in Jazz

Mothers In Jazz (24): Leonor Falcón

Mothers In Jazz” is a new series, started by vocalist Nicky Schrire. The initiative aims to create an online resource for working jazz musicians with children, those contemplating parenthood, and jazz industry figures who work with and hire musicians who are parents. The insight of the musicians interviewed for this series provides valuable emotional, philosophical and logistical information and support that is easily accessible to all. “Mothers In Jazz” shines a light on the very specific role of being both a mother and a performing jazz musician.

Leonor Falcón is a Venezuelan violinist and viola player. After studying at the Conservatory of Geneva, she decided to pursue her passion for jazz and moved to New York where she completed her Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance at Queens College. Leonor performs with ensembles that are dedicated to jazz, avant garde, latin and classical music. Her collaborators have included the Sirius Quartet, Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill Latin Jazz Orchestra, and Karl Berger improvisers orchestra. Leonor recently moved to Spain, where she lives with her husband, guitarist Juanma Trujillo and their 1and a half year-old child.

Leonor Falcón. Photo credit: Kenneth Jimenez

LondonJazz News: What is the best advice you received about balancing/juggling motherhood and career?

Leonor Falcón: It may sound clichéd, but after I had my child I understood the meaning of “being patient with myself, taking one day at a time” and that helped me accept that things will slow down for a bit. And that’s ok.

LJN: What information or advice do you wish you’d received but didn’t (and had to learn through trial and error or on the go)?

LF: Honestly, mostly more support when it comes to breastfeeding. That part was extremely difficult for me not only physically but emotionally because there is a lot of pressure to only feed your child that way but no middle ground if you’re not physically and emotionally able to do it.

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After months I realized whatever I chose was the best for him. You need to be sane first and then your child will be ok.

LJN: Your top tip(s) for other mothers in jazz:

LF: Find or create a support system. If you’re in the NYC area there are lots of resources for mothers who don’t have much support. The Nurse Family Partnership and the Healthy Families organizations are two I was a part of when in New York City and they helped me and my family a lot with information, emotional support, etc

LJN: Baby/child gear tips for travel/touring/gigging:

LF: I’m still not good at this. I’d say the least you can travel with the better, but it’s very hard! Gear-wise I discovered a breast pump called Liberty that saved my life. It wasn’t super expensive and I could use it while rehearsing or even gigging because it was very discreet. I understand how some people might feel embarrassed to use it in public but I’d encourage you to do it whenever you need to as much as possible. I believe this should be normalized if we’re going to keep our careers going while feeding our children.

LJN: Best general travel/gigging/tour-with-child advice:

LF: Try to plan ahead for everything: from food to naps, and where you’ll arrive to figuring out what is available. And, of course, if you can hire someone to help out while you’re working, but at the same time be flexible if things don’t go as planned and don’t mind other people who might give you the “vibe” if they see you with your child.

LJN: What has surprised you about becoming a parent and remaining engaged with your professional activities and ambitions?

LF: I’d say I’ve become better at balancing the two. I’ve learned to filter who I want to work with and why, and what gigs to take. My time now has become more precious than ever so I feel like I’m more efficient and I put more care into career details. I feel very motivated to keep going, and I value myself and my work more, while also accepting that things can move slower. My anxiety levels around my career have, surprisingly, dropped.

LJN: What boundaries have you set for yourself as a mother in jazz (could be related to travel/touring, riders, personal parameters, child care decisions, etc.)?

LF: The work I want to do now, has to be meaningful either musically or financially. Time is extremely valuable especially since my son is still very young and spends a lot of time with us at home. He started daycare only a few days ago so I make sure I plan ahead for everything I need to do in those limited hours every day, but I also don’t stress out if I’m not able to finish all my tasks. Again, I try to be organized and focused while also being flexible and enjoying every moment.

Leonor’s latest album “Imaga Mondo Vol. II” was released in 2021 on FalconGumba Records.

Leonor Faln’s website

Latest album Imaga Mondo Vol II on Bandcamp

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