"Someday soon bands, choirs, and orchestras will gather together again. the conductor will signal for the first note to sound, and musicians will remember it's hard to read music with tears in their eyes." Anonymous internet meme
"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards to be born?"
The inevitable lockdown is coming. Cases are soaring, too many people are ignoring health regulations through selflessness, willful ignorance, fear and stupidity.
Our return date to the rehearsal room, concert hall, teaching studio has been pushed back again. My guess until the late spring, early summer. Vaccines or no vaccines.
My take on coming out the other side. I will be:
“Flexibility, improvisation, practicality, and the ability to recognize and respond to changing environments”
This will take work. Work that will get more difficult as this things drags on.
First things don't wait for the government to solve your money problems. Taking a temp job will be better that sitting at home underpaid on government benefits waiting for a miracle. Even a temp job that pays the same as benefits. It gets you up, dressed, and out of the house, or at least interacting with humans on some level. This has got to be better than sitting alone at home stewing in our own juices.
Secondly, seek professional help, we all know in our hearts that we are looking at another year before any kind of communal music making and audience gatherings are allowed. The vaccine will need to work and then be distributed widely to a reluctant and skeptical population to do its possible magic. Ask your doctor, union rep for ideas and possibilities.
Thirdly, take care of yourself. Sleep, exercise in sunlight, eating nutritional meals, and staying sober will up one’s chances to cope.
Fourth, take online lessons or classes if you can swing it. I find this helpful. I interact with my drum tutor weekly, piano tutor bi-weekly.
Fifth, stay close to your friends. Have online coffee meetups, or coffee in the park on a regular basis.
Lockdown is imminent. What to do?
Three sessions in 2 days.
Where there's a will there is a safe way.
Cognitive overload: Too much information, not enough context, too little time to process and reflect= stress, from the resulting inefficiencies in holding information in our memory for later retrieval.
A good example for musicians in memorizing music. Apparently as we age, we lose abilities with working memory. Memorizing becomes increasingly difficult.
How do we improve our working memory? It's complicated, but decluttering the mind might be of help.
Ten things to help lower this stress to free up our processing power, so to speak.
Being internally driven when sitting at home takes some extra effort. Idleness, loneliness, cramped spaces, financial stress; it adds up.
I've made a short list for musicians of positive qualities that may help us focus our efforts, deal with reality, be creative, and get on with it.
The short hokey video below is a good reminder that fitness, appearance, and conduct go a long way to preparing us what is to come. Combine this with professional pride and imaginative thinking will, I believe, move us forward.
For more on this subject I suggest checking out this peer reviewed article: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-intrinsic-motivation-2795385
What is a good attitude in the midst of a pandemic?
I. Stay in touch with others. Especially musicians who are still practicing, staying sober, practicing safe practices. This has really helped me: Jamming with social distancing in safe spaces.
2. Stay physically active. Keep the endorphins up. A challenge for sure. I'm drinking way for much coffee.
3. Taking lessons gives us another reason to stay musically fit. I take weekly classes on drums. For piano classes twice a month plus an online teaching course here and there.
4. Explore alternative routes for your career. I'm exploring drum teaching. This is a creative industry, let's get creative, we have no choice. As someone wiser than me said, "you got your war". This is our moment.
An external link:
Performing live is over for the foreseeable future. Going to any kind a show prior to either the virus dies out or a vaccine miraculously appears is done like dinner.
Time to reimagine the future.
What's not happening?
What can happen?
Darn Tootin' it does. This won't last forever. Reach out everyway you can to stay in the loop. Project positivity, keep moving, keep practicing. Be ready.
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.