Mothers In Jazz (40): Tineke Postma

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.

Tineke Postma is a Dutch saxophonist and composer who received the award for “European Musician of the Year 2020” from the Académie Du Jazz in France. She performs internationally and has recorded and/or performed with musicians including Terri Lyne Carrington, Dianne Reeves and Herbie Hancock. Her projects as bandleader feature acclaimed musicians like Kris Davis, Ralph Alessi and Reinier Baas. She is part of the saxophone faculty of the Codarts Conservatorium Rotterdam and the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Tineke lives in The Netherlands with her husband, pianist Marc van Roon, and their son who is 8 years old.

Tineke Postma. Photo credit: Merlijn-Doomernik

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

Tineke Postma: To not feel guilty about having a career as a touring musician and for having a life outside of motherhood. It will make you a better mom. A child, eventually, will benefit and learn from an inspired and happy mom who follows her passion. 

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)?

TP: That you might have to make some adjustments in your touring life and accept that your priorities might shift. You want to tour but you also kind of don’t want to tour because you don’t want to leave your child and that will be a struggle sometimes. I took on a bit more teaching work in order to not have to accept every gig request that comes up. 

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

TP: It takes a village to raise a child. You need to build a community of mothers, neighbours, family around you, who can help out.  

My husband is also a musician who travels and we used to tour a lot together. We decided to not tour together abroad too far away for too long a time. It was a better feeling to have our separate projects in addition to playing together in order to share our time with our kid and make sure that he was always at least around one of us.

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

TP: Always bring enough stuff books, toys, etc for the child to play with.

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

TP: Bring a person who can take care of your child when you are soundchecking and performing, such as a close family member or friend. If possible, book a separate room for you to be able to  practice or work if needed. 

Basically, I’m not a fan of touring with my kid. It’s too much stress for him to move from city to city. He’s better off being at home living his daily routine. Also, travelling without him helps me to stay focussed and it gives me the inspiration and energy to be a good mom when I come home.

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

TP: In the beginning I was afraid people would not hire me anymore so I kept the news (online) very quiet. Once more colleagues knew, I was surprised by the many positive responses. 

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Some older generation men couldn’t understand that I was still a musician once they learned that I became a mom. In their views, I was just a mom and music was no longer the main focus  because they felt that I was not going to be able to juggle the two things. I have worked a lot since the beginning of motherhood so I don’t feel I missed out on work opportunities.

I also became way more efficient with my time management so I actually learned to be more productive. I also feel that when I’m on the road, I enjoy the time more now. It feels like a small holiday, even though I’m working very hard.

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.)?

TP: For now, I won’t travel for periods longer than ten days. When I travel, I won’t do very early departures or other inconvenient travel schedules before I get home because I need my sleep. If I arrive exhausted when coming home, I can’t be a good mother. So I try to protect my sleep. I would rather arrive home a little later than arrive early in an exhausted state. 

I also need to set boundaries in order to be able to take care of myself and I need to be able to practise sufficiently, which can be challenging when being at home with my kid. My child obviously always likes to have 100% of my attention, but that’s something I can’t always provide and I’ve been teaching him to play by himself, entertain himself and he’s been developing well in this regard.

Tineke’s new albumARIA” features Ben Monder, Robert Landfermann and Tristan Renfrow is released on Edition Records in May 2023.

LINK: Previous articles in LJN/Nicky Schrire’s Mothers in Jazz Series

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