January 26, 2022 I by Elisa Janson Jones
Motherhood & Music
When I was seven months pregnant with my third child, my husband approached me about our financial situation. It wasn’t good. I’d left my full-time teaching job to stay home with our kids and teach private lessons while he took his first position post-college. Our single-income family couldn’t support five people, and I wasn’t able to enroll more students, so he begged me to try and get a more permanent job.
The morning after an evening of tears, I dressed as best I could and went down to the local music store closest to my home. I talked to the manager and left them my resume. I was a well-connected music educator who had put myself through college working in music retail. If they had been looking at just my experience and skills and not my pregnant belly they may have hired me, but they didn’t.
I can’t blame them. I knew it would be a risk to hire someone who would surely need time off a few months in the future and may not be a dedicated employee for more than a few years. These are typical business considerations.
Since I still needed a job, I went to the next-closest music store. I met with the owner and told him through a quivering lip that I needed a job. He didn’t ask for my resume, he asked when I could start and how much I would need to make. He also knew I was a risk, but he took a chance on me. He knew that as a highly trained music educator with a substantial local network I would be an asset to him, regardless of my status as a mother. He knew that as a young mother I was a master of logistics, I would need minimal training, and I could be both ruthless in sales and charmingly empathetic with difficult customers.
Over the next few years, I went on to be a high-volume salesperson and educational representative. The owner’s risk taking me in as a young mother paid off.
Mothers time and again get the short end of the career stick. We pay a price for creating the next generations of consumers, and fewer and fewer of us are choosing to pay that price. Being a working mom has challenges in general. When there are deadlines that need to be met, you lose out on time you might have been able to spend with your family so that your career can also excel. It’s a challenge when mothers have to choose between their career and their children.
My career has shifted from teaching in the classroom to running a private studio to creating my own professional development business and now managing digital educational products in the music industry. Through every step of my career choices, I have had to consider the impact on my ability to be a mother, and it hasn’t been easy, even with the amazing support of my employers.
It’s this kind of support that will keep turnover low and employee satisfaction high. Music companies that support mothers can also reap the rewards of doing so.
As supportive employers may attest, mothers bring many strengths to corporations. Most of us are educated and adept at managing several projects simultaneously. We can balance empathy with consequences and be exemplary customer-oriented employees. I am grateful to be working for a company that supports its working mothers.
With such a low percentage of women in the music industry it is important to support all of us, including mothers, to help build more equity and inclusion in our field. Be sensitive to the needs of mothers who are primary caregivers. Offer flexible schedules, competitive benefits, the ability to work from home when necessary, and check your own expectations and biases toward women who have children. I promise, we’re worth it. MI
Elisa Janson Jones is senior product manager, digital at Conn-Selmer.