In 2013, while playing a concert, the hand of the principal suddenly rested on my shoulder. As I turned around to see what it was, he said “We’ve got to take cover - the tornado sirens are going off.” While arriving to play for a Christmas concert in 2019, I knocked myself unconscious while getting out of the car. (I got up and still played with a huge knot on my head.) I’ve driven through flash floods to get to concerts, sung through contractions and bronchitis, and taken shelter from severe weather more times than I can count, but none of these could have prepared me for the 2020-2021 music making season.
Were we even going to have a season? What would it look like? Would anyone even come? What does this mean for my finances?
When the world stopped in 2020, musicians were left wondering what would become of their careers. My full spring 2020 calendar was suddenly empty. As a free lance accompanist, May felt odd. I was home when I should have been in a practice room working with students. I was constantly recording church services. The fall concert season came, and instead of being in concert halls with hundreds, I sat in my small home studio making recordings for choirs to use, surrounded by my children’s school work and my husband’s make shift work-from-home desk. Choir directors sat in front of screens instead of choirs editing individual singers’
By Christmas, we shifted again. I was allowed back in schools to record virtual concerts. Armed with a digital piano, a cafeteria that could hold students at 6 feet of distance, and a bunch of masks, we worked with recording companies to provide the best concerts that we could. In some cases, we held concerts in gyms, one choir at a time, with distanced seating and a required twenty minute recess between groups to clear the air.
A year into the pandemic, and yet another shift. Many of us got to
experience DIY UIL, recording our music in t-shirts in a choir room under a
local moderator to make sure all rules were followed. Band contests began
to return with air purifiers, distancing, and masks. We finished out the
season tired and hopeful.
As we prepare to return, I can’t help but look back over the last year and a half. It was hard, but musicians have always been a resilient bunch. We know how to shift. We tweak, refine, and we overcome obstacles. We believe in the gift we have to share, so we persevere. We’re shifting once more, and we can’t wait to sing for you again.