Music During the Pandemic

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Tuesday was supposed to be our Spring concert for symphonic band.

The last concert our graduating seniors would perform in public.

But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelled.

Part of me feels sorry for those who’d looked forward to appearing in head-to-toe black on our state-of-the-art, copper-clad stage shell. For those eager to play in a venue that can hold more than 500 seated patrons.

I’ve seen the students’ excitement in past years — receiving bouquets of flowers from their family, taking photos for their memory books.

And, while our (substitute) director asked us to practice the pieces she’d chosen, I’m going to admit right here, right now — I didn’t.

And I have no regrets.

This was the director who sprang an impromptu audition on just the flute section the very first session of class.

And the more I thought about it — the fact that this is billed as an unauditioned group and that no other sections were targeted — I decided that, even if classes were to resume and the coronavirus magically went away, I’d skip this semester.

It’s okay, I rationalized.

There will be other opportunities to play, and I imagine I’m not the only one who ceased working on those pieces when it became obvious the lockdown would last a while.

Maybe we’ll try again next fall with our regular director. Or maybe he’ll want to start afresh, with no return thoughts of the pandemic.

Regardless, this semester is done. No practices, no concert, so my failure to learn the selections merely left me time to work harder on my lesson music.

And now time moves on toward the start of (summer) community band.

We’ve already received our schedule of practices and concert dates, and I’m sure somebody is trying to figure out how we can perform while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Our audience, of course, can sit in their cars and hear the music from afar.

But gee — how do you blow a wind instrument through a face mask??!

25 thoughts on “Music During the Pandemic

  1. The lack of “performances” is one of the things that makes me so sad. Our wonderful Brevard Music Festival that runs all summer and includes over 400 students from all over is canceled and it breaks my heart. It was the right decision but still….. hope we all can figure out a way to enjoy/make music safely soon!

    • We’ve had so many traditional events cancelled, from theater to class reunions to street festivals. Tourism used to bring in a lot of money and now, that’s not going to happen. I can’t help fretting over this — events that once brought us all together are taken away, people are out of work, just not a happy time. Nevertheless, I’m holding onto HOPE. It’s got to get better, right?!

  2. You’re absolutely right, Debbie, there will be other opportunities to play after the lockdown is lifted. And you never know, later on something even better might present itself to you.

    Glad to hear that you’re getting prepared for your summer community band! I’m thinking that since you’ll be performing outside and practicing social distancing between band members, you won’t need to wear masks. Honestly, when I’m outside taking my walks during the day, I adhere to social distancing and have my mask with me in case I have to go into a store and will be in an enclosed place with other people. But I don’t wear it constantly if I’m outside.

    Have a great rest of your week, my friend xo

    P.S. I love the photo of your flute and sheet music. I also love the color of your carpet. It’s beautiful. My favorite color!

    • Thanks so much for your optimism and compliments, Ron! I think we’re supposed to be wearing masks when we can’t do social distancing — walking outside, by myself, and keeping apart from others tells me I can be mask-free. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to wearing a face covering — I feel like somebody’s trying to smother me! Of course, even as a kid, I wasn’t especially fond of Halloween costumes for that very reason, ha!

      Enjoy what’s left of this work week. We’ve had a couple of gray, rainy days, with lots of wind and cooler temps. Not very Springlike and not conducive to walking outdoors. I imagine this will be one of those years where it goes from 40 degrees right to 80 in a day’s time! xo

  3. Very cool that there is a summer band to prepare for. I’m sure you can all sit 6 feet apart. The sound (for you) will be different, but I doubt the people listening in their cars will be able to tell. Our season is over too, of course, and I haven’t played anything since that last (and we didn’t know it would be our last) rehearsal. I feel bad, too, for our seniors. But also for us. And our director who is not well and may or may not be back whenever we can start again. My camping reservations were just cancelled today by our DNR. They won’t have campgrounds ready until 2 weeks after my last reservation in June. I don’t think I’ll try to make new reservations…I need to go to Alabama whenever traveling is safe and I don’t know when that will be. I feel a bit disconnected from everything now.

    • We *hope* we’ll be doing summer band. Our concerts don’t start until June, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed the governor will let some things relax by then. I’m sorry about your camping being cancelled. Illinois has reopened its state parks — frankly, I can’t understand why they were closed in the first place. I mean, it’s not like people have to be up in each other’s faces to camp, hunt, and fish, right? And I totally “get” your feelings about going to Alabama — I’m the same way about getting to Gulfport. I haven’t seen my sis in months, and Mom and I need to check the house down there. Easy to feel disconnected right now.

    • Hey, Professor — good to see you around this space! I was thinking of maybe sliding the flute underneath the mask (and hoping some sound might escape). You’ve got a better idea, forgetting those smothering things altogether. Although I’d feel awful if something I did contributed to some old person getting sick, you know.

      • I’m 73, Debbie, and I’m all in favor of you deep-sixing the facemask. They’re appropriate if a person is sick, or if someone is caring for a sick person, or in an environment like a hospital. Otherwise? I simply am not convinced of their effectiveness — especially the homemade cloth ones. Where numbers of the elderly are becoming ill, they’re often residents in nursing homes or extended care facilities: like jails or cruise ships, they’re perfect petri dishes for the development of disease.

        I have a lot of friends around here who are my age or older, and to be honest? We don’t worry all that much. We wash our hands, stay out of crowds, and stick to a healthy diet. When it’s worked for 70 or 80 years, it’s hard to panic!

        • Linda, this is a very rational explanation, one I’ve often thought myself. Frankly, we’re being told to wear masks, and people seem to think it’s for *their* benefit, but actually it’s designed to protect others. And often those ‘others’ are the very ones who should be sticking closer to home during cold and flu season. I wish they’d tell us how many people get the flu who don’t bother getting the vaccination. You’re right, those centers of close quarters — nursing homes, cruise ships, prisons — are pretty hard to sanitize sufficiently for everyone to stay safe.

        • What’s even more interesting is the number of people who get flu even though they’ve had the vaccinations. Smallpox and and measles vaccinations are quite effective: flu, not so much. That’s because it keeps mutating, and every season’s vaccine needs to be redesigned, based on the best guess of which strain is going to predominate. People who think there’s going to be “a” vaccine to protect us completely against “this” virus are kidding themselves.

  4. As for the music/band situation, sometimes it is best to just move on. It seemed to me that you actually began to move on from this group when that new director showed up. Once this unpleasantness is over, there may be some very good changes that make participation fun again — I sure hope so!

    • That new director (I hope) was a one-time thing, necessitated by course scheduling. If she takes the group over permanently, I’ll have to think long and hard before continuing because that surprise audition was such a disturbing thing. At least I can still play on my own!

  5. Well, it’s a shame it all had to be cancelled but maybe the silver lining is that it meant you didn’t have to spend much time with the substitute director! It is hard to know what’s best. We’re extending our lockdown and to be honest for me that doesn’t matter too much, since I’m a hermit by nature anyway. But I feel so sorry for young people, when social life is so important and they’re also missing out on the fun of school and college with a group of people who might become friends for life – experiences you can’t really repeat later in life. And then there are all the poepl who’ve lost their jobs. I do feel we need to do more to open up for those not at serious risk even if they catch the virus, while making better efforts to shield the elderly and vulnerable, especially those in care homes. But of course, that’s all easier said than done. I hope they succeed in finding an effective vaccine soon…

    • Me, too, FF. I’m glad I’m not the one having to decide what’s better — keeping people holed up to protect them from catching the virus, or reopening businesses to jump-start the economy. What a conundrum, to be sure — and here, I’m fretting over band, ha!

  6. This dag gone virus has really disrupted our lives but it must not break our spirit! Right now, music is helping me get through this. I’ve had 3 friends pass away last week and I’m practicing to put on 3 separate online concerts for them. I have found that the music is actually healing me. Deb….there will be another concert for you next year. Until then you have your memories.

    • Oh, Tanya, I’m so sorry about the deaths of your friends. It’s an awful time for momentous occasions — births, weddings, graduations, funerals — since we’re forced to social-distance. However, I’m glad you’re doing the online concerts — what a great way to contribute something positive!!

  7. Can’t imagine playing the flute through a face mask! Playing the violin would be fine, but a flute? (I played and marched in high school orchestra and band. Took a bit of coordination.) So sorry your concert was cancelled. I’ve been watching the Vancouver Symphony performances – done with Zoomish technology. Kind of cool! Blessings, Debbie — and at least you can keep practicing! :)

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