Singing is part of what makes me ME. When I talk about someone who has an illness, for example, someone who has bipolar, I do not say that they are bipolar. I say that they have bipolar. Having bipolar disorder does not define them. But I am a singer. It defines me. I have been a singer since I was a very little girl. And, you know what? Singers tend to like performing. Some of us love performing. I am one of the latter. I go out of my way to find venues where I can sing.
Before all this hit, I was singing and playing the piano for 4 hours every Wednesday morning at one of the local hospitals. (They have a lovely grand piano in one of the lobbies for lucky volunteers to play.) I love performing in hospitals. You see someone who is scared, nervous, upset, and for just a moment, their step lightens and a smile crosses their face. You know that you have made a difference in that person’s life, even if only for a moment. I had people stop and talk, or – my favorite – people would sometimes stop and sing with me.
I also did programs for nursing homes. I don’t even mind too much that I wasn’t making much (any) money for these. I felt like I was making a difference with my music. And at the risk of sounding hopelessly corny, that was enough.
And now all of that is put on hold, with no idea when it can come back. This time of year High Tea Carolers should be starting rehearsals. (They are my Victorian caroling troupe. We do make money each year.) But it is not safe for us either to rehearse or to sing in public. At the beginning of all this there was a choir in Washington state with 61 members. They were social distancing. In the end 50 people got sick, and 2 died.
What can we do?
Some venues are opening at 20% capacity and enforcing mask-wearing. Others are going for something along the lines of a drive-in movie, with concert goers sitting in their cars, honking horns instead of clapping their hands. The Met gala this year went virtual, with opera singers performing in their homes, sometimes with unexpected accompaniments and staging.
I saw two singers in France who went to a nursing home and sang outside in the parking lot. They did a 20-minute set four times, once for each side of the building. I keep thinking about something like that.
Music and all the performing arts will find a way. Not only are the arts vital to those who perform, they are vital to the life of our culture. We just need to be creative. After all, that is what we do best.
Do you have any ideas for safe ways to perform? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll be playing music by people who have figured out ways to make this work all week on my Minnich Music Facebook page, so be sure to check them out.
Until next time!