This year marks quite a different one for my profession. I have not been asked to perform at a Christmas concert, lead a school band, accompany a Festive medley or conduct a choir to sing Carols at a Nursing Home. There is no requirement of a Santa hat and tinsel to decorate whatever instrument I am playing for a live show. No church services of live choral traditions. There are no last-minute dashes on my part to find substantial music stands and light up antlers for performances. This is the first year I have not been informed of a ‘Christmas jumper day’ event. (I think for the sake of it, I will make some dates in December for that myself).
Instead, I have given parents and students opportunities to see video recorded action of their piano and drum playing in lessons. I have been busy uploading winter exam entries online. I continue to have meetings on zoom, participate in online professional development courses and chat outdoors with students and parents of students at a social distance in the freezing cold. I have spent more than I care to admit on a regular rotation of daily contact lenses, ‘miraculous’ lens cloths and wet lens wipes in the hope of overcoming glasses steaming with a face mask and/or visor conundrum. (It is still an experiment in progress.)
I have embraced fairy lights in my house like no other year before. I continue to support other musicians (buying music downloads, backing track mp3s, piano and vocal arrangements and practise resources). I continue to post online (perhaps ‘pester’ is a more accurate verb) to encourage all those within my network to shop and support locally, support self-employed, consider online music lessons! etc.
I do acknowledge that there is so much to be thankful for even when there could be so many things to complain about. I do not usually consider myself particularly extrovert but I do miss going to places to hear live music. Remember those days? I also miss singing along to songs that not only come out at this time of year. Am I the only one to realise how much I used to sing (quietly) in public now that face-masks have brought my attention to it? It did come to an abrupt stop. (I used to regularly push the shopping trolley down the aisles quietly joining in with the chorus of whatever was playing on the sound system).
Alternatives are of course, singing in the house, in the car, watching concerts online etc. I am aware there are alternatives. BUT, I really miss intelligent conversation about music with a coffee in a place outside my own home, with someone outside my social bubble. I also miss going to a library and delving into a new found treasured story. (I have also spent more than I care to admit on books lately, in the hope of converting my own bookshelves into a library).
On the up-side, here are my plus points I have observed from this year:
- I have had more time to practise piano and drums in 2020.
- I have had time to evaluate (and re-evaluate where I am ‘going in life’)
- I identify incorrect pitching even when a zoom camera is pointed at a ceiling or wall instead of a piano.
- I discovered a brilliant drummers live stream and Instagram account that gives me a solid connection about things I like to talk about.
- I have got back to cycling after a long hiatus.
- I have read more books this year (feeling somewhat guilty of my growing library in compensation for the local ones being closed).
I won’t deny though, it is all a bit ‘weird’ not playing live music or listening to live music in December. I am trying not to think about New Year’s yet. TRYING. One step at a time…