Is anyone not playing?

Is anyone not playing?

My Facebook feed is full of people playing music and putting videos online, but I’ve gone cold turkey on music since the lockdown and haven’t played a note. Just can’t be bothered doing anything which requires much energy and have decided to be a spaced-out sea cucumber-like blob on the sofa until lockdown ends.

Is everyone productively learning tunes and woodshedding, or is there anyone else who has gone for "F** it?"

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I’m playing and learning a bunch. But it feels a bit disconnected. The best has definitely been the JamKazam, but it’s also the most frustrating. This lockdown is probably going to be longer than people think, and even once it’s lifted, it may be some more time before people are ready for sessions. Seems like you should find some musical outlet one way or another to help keep you sane. But I can’t tell you how to live your life 😉

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Not me, Dr. Spear. Still playing despite being locked down for the past 30 days. Too many personal musical goals to achieve.

My biggest worry is the lack of live participation with other musicians might screw up my timing, and although metronomes can help they’re not a replacement.

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I am still enjoying my music and playing tunes at home.
I’ve got back into playing the harp as well which is one of the good things about staying in the house.

However, I’m not really going out of my way to involve myself with all the extra online activities e.g. joining "session groups" or checking out every video by all the musicians out there. It’s too much "sensory overload" for my liking.
I’ll no doubt listen to and interact with some of it in due course but I intend to be selective.

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I’m playing a whole lot less than I’d like to. This current crisis offers me the opportunity to further recover from having my right hand fused in December but the lack of anyone to play with sort of saps the enjoyment out of playing.

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You’re in good company: Nancy Kerr posted something to much the same effect. Lots of loud voices out there at the moment and I can quite understand the creative impulse wanting to crawl under a rock for the duration. I have to admit that although I’m doing my usual practice I’m not achieving anything heroic at this time.

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Me!
I’ve spent the past 4 weeks working from home and after a 10 hour day staring at a screen I really can’t be bothered to do anything else other than go out and get some fresh air and exercise.
I did post one spur of the moment clip on Facebook of me playing last Sunday ( only ‘cos it was Palm Sunday) but that’s really the only time I’ve picked my pipes up.
But all these clips of people playing and people trying to organise online sessions is tiring me out. I’ll come back to them at some point in the future.

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I’m playing slightly less this year, but it has nothing to do with the current crisis. Nothing at all. It has however had a negative effect on a musical event which should have taken place at the end of May.

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I used wish I could play all day. Now I can.

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I’m taking advantage of the extra time (which looks like lasting for at least a couple of months) to learn some big tunes and have more structured practice sessions to get a few pieces that have been there or thereabouts (but, critically, not quite there) for a number of years up to video performance standard (and I got nine sets of strings delivered just before lockdown).
I’ve also put together a (digital) book of tunes by participants at my local session.

But also, we’ve never been so far on with the garden, the windows have never been cleaner, lots of snags around the house have been unsnagged, we’re doing an awful lot more proper cooking and eating more healthily.

Also going to bed earlier.

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So far nothing has changed much for me. I am self-employed and work from home as does my wife. Even under normal circumstances I try to not leave the house too often. Always been a big fan of "cocooning" (anybody remember Faith Popcorn?). But with the economic devastation this pandemic brings, I might sooner or later feel the effects on my job, too.
I only play music for my own amusement, don’t play sessions or anything. Occasionally I play with my wife, who plays accordion. Flute or whistle is a great solo instrument. Learning tunes and playing them on my own is basically all I need to be happy with my instrument. So I play just as much as before.

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I’m practicing more than I have in years.

I have a "stay-at-home" goal of reading through every single tune in the two volumes of "Smoke in Your Eyes" (about 800 tunes) twice through perfectly on my 5-row C-system Chromatic Button Accordion, complete with left-hand chords (Stradella bass).

Figure I might as well come out on the other side of this with a skill that will make me even less popular everywhere I play.

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I seem to have gone numb. But I did put new strings on my guitar last night and then played Paul McCartney’s "Blackbird," Nanci Griffith’s "Love At the Five and Dime," Neil Young’s "Country Girl," and Bruce Springsteen’s "Tougher Than the Rest."

I have gel nails for finger picking. They’re getting too long. The nail salon is shuttered.

I was tidying up my studio three days ago and stumbled across a spiral bound music notepad from 1983 that contained, among other things, a couple of jigs I penned but hadn’t played in 20 years.

I read but didn’t play them.

Next day a dear friend texted me a picture of music for a reel I penned around the same time as the jigs. That reel has a companion, and we regularly played both for years.

I didn’t play those, either.

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I started out not playing for a few weeks. I have two kids at home who have to be schooled. But mostly I lost interest because I couldn’t play out - hadn’t touched any accordions since early February. But I’ve since discovered the rhythm bank in my kids’ e-keyboard has Brazilian and other good Latin rhythms, so I’ve gotten the accordions out again. Also my daughter studies saxophone so I play woodwinds with her when she’s home. As a harper I’m accustomed to playing by myself, anyway, so there’s that when I get tired of the rhythm tracks - which hasn’t yet happened! I guess it’s times like this that I’m especially glad to have diverse interests. Even with all this time I’m still not hitting everything I want to do.

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I think I’m practising more than I usually do. I generally get about a new tune a week and it’s gone up to two or three.

Thing is, I’m having a much harder time remembering them at all cognitively, and I don’t feel like I’m playing "consciously" in any meaningful sense. So I find it quite difficult to e.g. start any of the tunes or remember any variations that I thought up.

On the other hand I was practicing crans and staccato triplets and the muscles seem to remember. Not much joy in that mind.

Me and a fiddler are trying jamkazam but I lose patience after a while - not from quality, just from the disconnection.

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I’ve spent so many years playing by myself or to recordings that this is not a big deal to me. Besides, our weekly session always goes on hiatus over the summer, anyway. Frankly, this thing has done little to change my life. I just hope most of you can hack the financial whammy. I can, but many are going to be hurting. I hope the powers that be come through.

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What’s happening is a global, collective trauma. It’s too much to process at once and the full effects on society and individuals won’t be known for years to come. Everyone is grieving and everyone’s grief process will be different.

Some people find playing and/or listening helpful, others are too weighed down by the gravity of the situation to find the energy to. There is no one size fits all; if you aren’t able to play there’s no need to force yourself to or feel bad about it. Come back to it when you’re ready, the music will still be here. Take your time, be kind to yourself and others and just make it through each day. That’s certainly hard enough when the news is what it is each day.

I was putting in a solid few hours everyday and had a few projects on the go before all this. I maintained that momentum for a bit then it all fell apart and I took more days off than I usually would. Back at it now but playing less. I found that I actually feel better on the days when I play rather than just staring at my phone all day, which is what happens when I don’t. I mean, after-all, music is what I have always turned to in times of great distress and this is indeed one of those times.

There’s enough reasons to feel bad right now, try not to let a lack of motivation to play music be another one. It isn’t, it is a trauma response to things outside of one’s control.

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I am practicing several hours each day. But I find that on some days I lack concentration. Other days I can’t settle on a tune to work on, and some days my hands start to hurt almost immediatly and I realise it is because I am not relaxed.
I try not to look at news reports, and try not to sweat the small stuff.

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Playing more than ever—noticing lots of improvement!
But I don’t feel like my music making is radically affected by COVID-19, since I didn’t play any sessions before (not quite to the point yet where I think I’d do any good. I’m sure I’d benefit from the environment and music, however. I’m working on getting to the session playing point).
I’m not gonna bury my head in the sand, but so far I haven’t surrounded myself too much with news media reports. I know what’s going on from hearing my family talk about it, and I do watch TV a little daily.
Odd times, these.

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Just carrying on as usual, only moreso: playing by myself, talking to myself, shuffling around the house, spying on the neighbours … making big plans … etc.

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Great time to learn things we’ve always wanted to learn….no excuses not to buckle down and just do it once and for all!!!

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Or if you’re still in school like me, you just do excessive studying. (Homeschooled, by the way so it works splendidly for such times). Only I can only take so much of Geometry before I crack. We are not friends.
You can still study of course, if you aren’t in school, but who wants to do that?! Just play music.

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It’s an important time, particularly, to be an observor, critiquer, inventor… Recall the artist’s struggle, the novels, treatises and myths. Summon creativity, often the witness-bearer of grief.

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Funny you should ask if anyone is not playing. And funnier still the way you close your enquiry. On Tuesday, November 9, 1965, there was a massive power outage in the North Eastern United States that left 30 million people without power for over thirteen hours, some far longer. Many people indeed continued playing, some not musicians 🙂, as the statisticians were quick to point out a spike in the birthrate for this area about 9 months later.
Play on 🙂

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I spent two weeks NOT playing, because I was sick with what was probably covid-19.
Just didn’t have the energy to play the flute.
But now I’m back at it since a couple of days, but still short of breath and my embouchure is so bad after two weeks of not playing the flute.
But getting back there!

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Glad you are on the mend, Hnorbeck, and also that so many others are continuing to play.

However, as I said earlier, it should be each to their own as to how musicians cope during this period. I find that The Internet, Social media and so on is awash with possibilities and suggestions and just a little overpowering.
I’m quite happy to more or less carry on as normal without getting too involved with online social groups and the like especially those which have just sprung up of late. Of course, I will still check things out if they are of special interest and importance as I’ve already been doing up until now but not much more than that.

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I’m doing a bit of both. I’m still working full time though I did take four PTOs off the week that just ended. I wasted a great deal of those days but on Friday afternoon got out a whistle… it felt great, even just piddling about. I’m working this weekend then off till Saturday. I’m now inspired to devote sometime to my whistle. Also the many virtual sessions and like posts on YT are inspiring.

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At first I was not playing at all. I was just watching the news all day. I was too worried, afraid, disoriented to do anything. But now I am playing and practicing a lot. I am new to ITM so I have never been to session yet. But since I have the time, I am learning few tunes a day thanks to father Ryan Duns channel in YouTube. I am getting better each day. I am playing tin whistle and flute everyday for hours each day. Never practiced so much and makes me happy I able to do so. Once I start I forget about everything.

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Raising a wee baby in a wee flat - finding little time for playing. But stole a mando from the school before lockdown and I’ve been using it as a practice zouk for songs. The wee man loves it and it’s another thing to keep the sanity.

Stay safe doc - we’ll be playing together soon enough!

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I’m still working, and I play every evening. Sometimes though, I just think “what’s the point?” I really miss the company of other musicians and I can get tired of the sound of my own playing pretty quickly!! Anyway, I will persevere, keep learning tunes and will be ready to join others again when this is over. This is our World War, and it too will pass.

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Living in a thin-walled apartment is not conducive to practice. I can and do take my whistle outside (and attempt to find a somewhat-private place, though those don’t exist in town, and especially now when everybody is out wandering the streets), or at least I do when the weather is warm enough that I can still feel/move my fingers after a few minutes, but it’s not so easy with the other instruments. The guitar at least I can play inside because it’s quietish. Whistle, violin, etc. are right out (even with the heaviest mute available, my violin is just too loud and my playing these days is bad enough that I don’t want anyone to hear at all).

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Before all this lockdown stuff I’d already been housebound for a couple of months recovering from surgery for a shattered kneecap - been playing music every day as always, so nothing really changed on that front, though I’ve definitely noticed that the couple of hours I spend playing are the only time of the day that I’m not thinking about some aspect of the impact this pandemic is having, so it’s a very welcome respite.

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Up until yesterday, pretty much not at all. I’m a teacher, adult high school within a college, with a couple of months left to go in the school year…. last few weeks has been about getting things online, dealing with students, huge tech learning curve, not much time for anything else. Also, with wife and daughter stuck here too, conscious of their space. Fiddler daughter is playing a bit more now most of her university work is done.

Anyway, played a bit each of the last couple of days. Just discovered McCusker’s Yella Hoose, and learning a couple of tunes off it.

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As Avery said, the response to the current situation varies widely. I lost the heart to play for a few weeks. My parents live almost 9,000 miles away and my dad (84 yrs old) was very ill, critically at times (tested twice for covid, but negative so it was some other pneumonia type of virus) and I have no option to go over to be with them. Between that and the current events and trying to keep our home business alive, I just didn’t have it in me. Dad is slowly recovering, though fragile, and business is continuing for the moment, though shaky. I’ve started to look in on some of the online sessions recently (thank you, Michael Eskin and others), am playing a bit more now and am starting to find joy in it again. My first attempt at joining a Jamkazam session failed abysmally, in spite of having ethernet, etc, etc, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get to play in real time with a few people eventually!

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I like Avery’s post. I read the Guardian live feed like it’s crack, and that kills any vague notion of playing. Why bother? No sign of this pandemic and its lockdowns ending any time in the foreseeable future. If COVID hasn’t taken us out, we’ll have gone too mad anyway to play or function.

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I’ve already gone mad, but that’s not stopping me from playing all the time. If we survive this, I’m going to be one hell of a good 5-row C-system CBA accordion player for trad tunes

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Ive resumed teaching myself the fiddle. This is not great news for my partner.

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Ack! Cat locked my mouse button. Seems appropriate!

Anyway, being a socially anxious person and having to push myself to go out and meet people, I’m greatly missing my clog dancing classes and was going to start going twice a week before this all started. I havn’t been playing much whistle as I’m pretty depressed. I have pulled out my banjolin which I had not really started with and it has been sitting in the drawer for a year. I’m learning melody and can shakily play Inisheer, Britches and Rattling bog. I’m enjoying the novelty of a new instrument.

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Glad that my post went over well!

I find limiting my news intake helps, it’s addictive for sure, but too much and I’m just too worried and depressed to do anything. I think it’s a common response to what’s happening.

The music has survived famine, economic destruction and restructuring, unspeakable poverty, world wars, other pandemics, and more awful worst case scenarios. It will survive this and outlive all of us as long as people keep playing it. Some people will need to take some space from it to deal with the overwhelming emotion of the global situation, there is no shame in that.

I’ve always said that to really understand how to play this music, at least for a time, it has to be the only thing you have. There are some voice recordings on that Tommie Potts collection of non-studio recordings that came out about 8 years ago. On one of them he says something like "I’ve nothing else, apart from my family, only the music" and you can hear that in the way he plays. While you may not have the heart to play now; are the pipes, or at least a whistle, not the first thing you’ll reach for when your spirits have lifted a bit? When it is time to remember the joy of the music it will be all the sweeter after the despair of living through this. There is no light without dark. (Sorry if this is getting a bit deep for the mustard board!)

"If you’re going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill

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Where you say ‘[the music]…will outlive all of us’ is the part that’s kind of scary. It will, but I don’t want to make it any easier for it to do so. I’m an introvert, so stay-at-home is my natural state. Fortunately, my wife is an avid player of harp, concertina, accordion, and piano, so there’s no lack of material for us to pursue in music, and that’s what we’re doing - a lot. It’s somewhat for distraction, but mainly just to get better and learn more tunes/songs. We’re both retired. We miss visits with our kids and grand kids. But, as long as we have music, we’ll be okay. Well, music. as well as water, food, shelter, fire… Stay well everyone.

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No, I am not "not playing". (Triple negative?)
Probably playing almost as much as usual, but in a different way, having taken part in a number of virtual sessions, and even this weekend, a virtual folk festival! Some have been done via Facebook Live through various clubs’ Facebook group pages, so a mix of people posting live or sending in pre-recorded videos and Soundcloud clips of themselves. The others have been on various platforms - Facebook Messenger video, Zoom, Skype and FaceTime, but it is a matter of taking turns to lead, and trying to play along while muted. Apart from latency/delay, timing is a problem for some, if they are not used to being in the part of the group that keeps the beat! But it’s nice to be able to see each other and have a wee chat too, especially for those who are self-isolating alone. My husband self-isolates further still, e.g. goes for his daily walk when one of these sessions start!
Have downloaded, but not yet tried JamKazam.
Also eating better and more often together, now we’re not rushing off to evening meetings and sessions!
And I’m doing a bit of playing on my own too, singing and songwriting. So never a dull moment!

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I have had to do all of my playing at home for the past few weeks. All of the jam sessions (including the local Irish Session) where I usually sit in and play have been suspended temporarily. Also the mandolin and guitar group whom I play with and the old time folk music group are not meeting right now.
I have been spending my time watching music and other videos on YouTube. For example, since I play a keyboard instrument (the piano), I have been watching and listening to the Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. He supposedly wrote five hundred fifty-five of these pieces and I have already gotten up to number three hundred. When I am not watching music videos, I have been watching travel videos of both the United States and other countries such as Norway. There are a few people who like to film videos of their road trips in this country and put them on YouTube. As for Norway, there is a female railroad engineer who films videos of her trips while on the job and she likes to put them on YouTube.
Since I am clerical support staff in the intensive care unit at a large local hospital, I am expected to show up for work every day that I am scheduled to work and have been working regularly. However, all vacations and time off for the hospital staff has been cancelled until the end of May. Yes we do have some patients who have already tested positive for COVID-19. If you want some Good News, last week one of our patients who tested positive for COVID-19 got better and he improved so much that we were able to discharge him from the hospital and send him home.

Laurence

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At MP1996, if a metrognome cannot help you, maybe a country gnome could help?

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Because I work in a hospital and we have patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, I have been reading all the news and information which I am able to access every day. It may be bad news but I much prefer to know what is going on and stay well informed (unlike my former sister-in-law).

Laurence

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Besides the videos of Scarlatti’s Sonatas, I have also watched and listened to a video of the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach. When I am not watching music videos, I have been trying to organize my large collection of music.

Laurence

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Yes, still playing but not a lot - the notion of being in the house with endless hours to wile away is a strange one for me , we have a big garden and veg plots to maintain, hills and woods literally round the corner to walk in [while maintaining social distancing!] so not a lot of time for playing. I try to put in maybe a half hour every day, just to keep the fingers and brain active so they still remember what to do when normal life is resumed! I am playing mainly O’ Carolan compositions for solo guitar, stuff that I wouldn’t normally play at a session or a gig anyway. I appreciate all the folks who are playing online, I have been sent links to play virtual sessions but really don’t feel much inclination to participate - from what others have said said it seems to have only limited enjoyment………………..

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We had just started playing through the St. Patrick’s season, lots of gigs planned, My embouchure was tight. Just before St Patrick’ s day a few gigs and sessions I was really looking forward to… well you know the rest. I have barely played a note since. Just so heavy. My sister’s a nurse near NYC - she’s not having fun, and I worry. Nurses are a gift to us all.

It almost feels like I have to break some sort of seal to start playing again. I am giving my musical self some space without pressure. It will come.

I just finally started learning a couple songs, one in Irish. This has helped a lot. The Irish is hard but the challenge eases my worried mind.

Be well, this too shall pass.

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I am still playing (almost) every day, but not for as long as I used to do, and the motivation is harder to find.

On the other hand, once I’ve picked up my fiddle, it often does seem a consoling experience.

My goal during the lockdown ought to be to be able to play faster. I hope I get somewhere.

Best wishes to all you lone players out there.

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I am playing - but not as much as I would like myself to play and I entirely understand the question. When I was first in lockdown I tried to enforce self-discipline with timetables but it didn’t work at all so now the only thing timetabled is exercise and the rest I do when I feel like it. When I was younger I’m sure I would still have played on a desert island but now, even though there are two of us here and we can play together, I just need more stimulation or inspiration to be able to play than I seem to have - and I’m not sure what exactly is missing. Without it I find playing is an unpleasant physical effort. Tonight we played a "session" with quite a few others on Zoom and it was quite amusing but it just wasn’t really a session. I’ll see tomorrow whether it has helped.