Ethnomusicology and Parenthood

Liza, Ana, and I are very pleased to announce a new series we’ll be starting on the SEM Student Union blog. Inspired by In Discipline contributors Gertrud Huber, Iva Nenic, and Liam Barnard, we decided to begin a series highlighting the joys and challenges of becoming/being a parent while pursuing a graduate degree in ethnomusicology. We’ve asked friends, colleagues, and professors to write about their experiences. Unlike In Discipline, there was no standardized questionnaire for our contributors. They were asked only to share what they felt was most important about the subject.

We’d also like to extend this invitation to our readers as well: if you have experiences in parenthood while in graduate school and would like to share them with us, please email us at

– Heather

[Please sroll down to see the latest post]

Jen Hartmann. Keeping the Balls in the Air: Negotiating Dual PhD Programs with Young Children

Jen's daughters

I have a problem. Like many young professional women, I like to take on a staggering number of responsibilities at once. I usually excuse this self-sacrificial behavior by saying that I work better under the pressure of a busy schedule, which is entirely true. I’ve reached the pinnacle of my schedule-filling tendencies at this moment in my life: I am a post-funding PhD candidate, married to another post-funding PhD candidate, with two very young children (both born during our PhD programs). My family has moved twice in the last two years—once internationally—in order to pursue temporary jobs that pay very little. It’s truly exhausting, to put it lightly, but I wouldn’t have chosen to do it any other way. Any person with a graduate degree knows that it is a difficult, time consuming, and psychologically taxing endeavor. So is motherhood. So why would I, crazy person that I am, decide (yes, both of my children were planned) to become a mother during my PhD program? Continue reading…

Joan Jocson-Singh. The Challenges of Being a Librarian, Academic, Mommy and Metalhead

Joan Family

Motherhood is one of the many hats I’ve worn since the hubby and I first decided to have a go at this parenting business. My first professional position as a librarian was working at the world famous Thomas J. Watson library in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—one of the finest institutions I’ve had the pleasure of working for. Currently I work full-time as a librarian in acquisitions at Columbia University. In between, I’ve worked at public libraries, special libraries, and archives. Somewhere between the academic tenures of school and professional responsibilities of work, I also discovered, embraced and immersed myself in the world of extreme metal—a land few women, and especially mothers, had explored. Continue reading…

Charlotte D’Evelyn. There’s never going to be an ideal time.”

Charlotte & Boys

“There’s never going to be an ideal time.” My husband and I came to this realization as we scoured over complex charts and calendars, trying to figure out the best time to start having children. It was our third year of graduate school—me in ethnomusicology and my husband in economics. Choosing a viable time to have children weighed on us heavily as we had many more years of grad school ahead of us and the ultimate goal of finding meaningful employment afterwards, preferably in tenure-track academic jobs. Doing the math, we feared we might find ourselves past childbearing years by the time we both found ourselves in stable careers in the same city or geographic region. We also knew that our academic pressures would only continue to mount after graduate school and we felt we might be more equipped to deal with the challenge of a new baby in the predictable and flexible environment of grad school than it would be amidst the chaos of a new career. Constinue reading…

Beryl Yang. “The Biggest Challenge.”

Beryl and Lilian

I think the biggest challenge I had was attending SEM last year as a breastfeeding mother. Lilian was about 10 months old at the time, and I was still feeding her about six times a day. Since she couldn’t come with me during the trip, I pumped every four hours (including at night) and stored my breast milk. It was a crazy five days, pumping in the airport bathroom, on the plane, and at my hotel room in between panels, and carrying my breastmilk everywhere. I know many people have done it, but I never realized how hard it is until I did it. Continue reading…

Justin Hunter. Parenthood and Ethnomusicology

This month’s Parenthood and Ethnomusicology series features Justin Hunter, who shares his experiences of fatherhood, fieldwork, and dissertation-writing. Continue Reading…

Hunter family

Diana Gutiérrez. Parenthood and Ethnomusicology

This week, Liza, Ana, and I are very pleased to introduce Diana Gutiérrez. While pursuing a master’s degree in “Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage,” Diana created a short video that summarizes her experiences of parenthood and dance education for children. Continue Reading…

Bailando con mi hijo

David Harnish. Parenthood and Ethnomusicology

For our last series post of 2015 (don’t worry! We’re continuing into 2016!), we thought we’d change things up just a little. Thus far in the Parenthood and Ethnomusicology series, we’ve heard from current or very recently finished graduate students. In this week’s post, Dr. David Harnish, Chair of the Music Department at the University of San Diego, shares his memories of having and raising kids while pursuing his Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and later his PhD in Ethnomusicology at UCLA. Continue Reading…

David Harnish and family


Judith Cohen. Parenthood and Ethnomusicology

For our first post of the new year, we are very excited to introduce Dr. Judith Cohen. Dr. Cohen is a Canadian singer and ethnomusicologist specializing in Sephardic, Crypto-Jewish and related music, and the editor-consultant for the Alan Lomax Spain recordings. She did her MA in medieval studies and PhD in ethnomusicology, both at the French-speaking Université de Montréal. Her daughter Tamar Ilana has a biology degree, but works as a professional flamenco singer and dancer, as well as in other music traditions. Dr. Cohen was very gracious in sharing some of her thoughts and experiences of raising her daughter while conducting fieldwork and finishing her PhD. Continue reading…

T Urueña 1991

Ben Dumbauld. Parenthood and Ethnomusicology

Since its inception, I have been an avid and enthusiastic reader of the “Parenthood and Ethnomusicology” blogs. A father of a three-year-old and a PhD Candidate, I have found great comfort and a sort of virtual camaraderie with the others in our field who, like me, are continually in the process of figuring out how to be both parents and ethnomusicologists. Continue reading…

Ben Dumbauld