Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 44

“I think the secret lies in striving for maxi- mum efficiency and ease of playing – find- ing a way to get more results with less effort. I don’t think I sound all that much different than I did 10 years ago but I certainly feel like it’s less work to get the result I want in terms of playing loud, soft, high, etc. I try to think of getting maximum vibration with minimum strain.” But for those of us without a regular gig, or freelancers, chops need regular mainte- nance or they’ll simply disappear. Whelan Kotkas once took three weeks off to attend the Leadership and Advocacy for Teaching Artists program at New York City’s Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts. “For the first time ever,” she said, “ I decided not to bring my horn and to actually take a break.” That break, however, will take at least a month to recover from: “I have a gig playing principal trumpet in September, and rebuilding for that will have to begin in August. Chops Don’t Build Themselves! Allene Hackleman •Engelbert Schmid Triple Horn Allene Hackleman has been principal horn of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra since 2004. A native of Vancouver, Allene studied horn with Martin Hackleman, continuing undergraduate work at the University of Cincinnati. She has performed with the National Symphony, Mon- tréal Symphony, and the Winnipeg Symphony, and has performed concertos with the Edmon- ton Symphony, Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Red Deer Symphony, and the Victoria Symphony. She is a member of the Summit Brass and teaches at the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute in Denver, CO. Hackleman enjoys chamber music and has been a guest artist at the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, ON, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Pender Harbour Chamber Festival, the Edmonton Recital Society, and was featured at the International Women’s Brass conference in 2010. In 2015, she was invited to teach masterclasses at the Musikacademy in Belgrade, Serbia, and also performed as a member of the first Canadian Na- tional Brass Project. She teaches at the University of Alberta. 44 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N Time management. Efficiency. Routine. Discipline. Nothing voids those concepts quite like having children. This is pretty common knowledge, but there isn’t a lot of information out there about the physical aftereffects of pregnancy and childbirth can have on a brass player’s body. The internal pressure of playing the trumpet caused Whelan Kotkas to herniate above the belly button with both pregnancies – something that her doctor told her was a common condition… in obese middle-aged men. Hackleman notes that, “It got hard to figure out where to hold my horn when I was resting since I had no lap left. Later on in the pregnancy, it was hard to take in a lot of air,” though she observed no immediate effect on the quality of her playing. “The difficulty came afterward,” continues Hackleman. “I had a C-section and what little core strength I had before totally went away after that. I took a month off of playing and went back to work four months after the birth and my stamina was not the same. The way of pacing myself I had worked out so carefully just didn’t work anymore, maybe because my abdominals were destroyed, or maybe because I was totally sleep deprived.” For all the women, returning to the horn post partum had its complications. “It was pretty tough. I had a really hard time getting back to where I was,” shares Hackleman. “It takes a long time, even if you don’t have a long time to take… I had two big concerto performances and a recital to do all before my baby was even nine months old and it was pretty intense trying to think about these things and take care of a new baby at the same time.” “I played for the first time about three weeks post birth, and thought my insides would fall out,” says Fearon. “I was lucky to have time to recover, and began to gig again when my daughter was seven months old. With each successive pregnancy and birth it was easier to recover, or maybe I knew what to expect.” Other effects of pregnancy cost Whelan Kotkas a potential job . “I played throughout my pregnancy in anticipation of an upcoming audition with the Calgary Philharmonic. The audition was two weeks after I gave birth, but due to post partum swelling, my fingers were so swollen I couldn’t get through and so I missed that opportunity.” The addition of children can also demand adjustments to practice routines and times, such as using a high quality practice mute or practicing after the kids have gone to bed. In fact, late night practices were something all three of the mothers I spoke to had in common. Fearon recalls of subsequent years: “I fit practicing and performing as much as possible around kids’ schedules, but couldn’t have done it without my husband, my mom, and my cousin who nannied for us when the girls were small.” “Women are often forced into more creative spaces and creative music careers due to things like maternity,” adds Whelan Kotkas.