Musicians’ role in the time of COVID-19

There has been a lot of talk and gratitude lately about the importance of roles in society such as nurses, caregivers, emergency services, refuse workers, factory worker, farmers, and grocers. And I agree! 

But what is missing here is musicians. 
 
And there’s a reason. 
 
Too many musicians miss their opportunity to spread the superpower that is music when and where it is needed most. 
 
Remember the scene in the movie Titanic? The ship’s going down…the musicians gave what they had to give- rather than scramble for lifeboats, they played on, giving what comfort they could in that time of need. 
 
Too many of us wait until we have a stage, all the sound equipment just right, and our sidemen ready and rehearsed before we’ll perform. 
 
Right now, your country needs you. I know some of you are live-streaming, and I commend you for that. But there is nothing like LIVE music, in the flesh. If you’ve ever played a nursing home you know what I mean; the whole place feels sad and quiet…you make the first strum on your guitar (or whatever instrument you have) and suddenly all the sagging faces lift, smile, and if they know the song, start singing along!! It is pure magic!
 
Now, I wish we could go to seniors’ and hospitals right now. Perhaps we need to plant ourselves outside windows?! (If you’ve got a generator, or can project enough sound without needing amplification, why not?)
 
But there’s another thing any one of us can do: play outside! Do a porch pop-up show right at your home. I did my first one a couple days ago and it was wonderful. Having the amplification helped let people know that I intended to share the music (not that I was just sitting there practicing)! It took an empty street and got people peeking out “wohoo-ing” from down the block. Families on bicycles stopped, neighbours came out and chatted and met each other for the first time, all at safe distances, but the neighborhood felt closer than ever before. And the atmosphere felt tangibly lifted from one of stress and isolation to one of neighbourly solidarity!
 
People were asking for my commitment to come back every day- saying how lucky they felt to have a musician living on their street. Weather permitting, I’ll be trying my damndest to make this happen as often as I can.
 
Part of me felt bad that I’d never done it up to this point actually. I’ve played too many gigs where I’ve been ignored; and I’m pretty sure that if there weren’t a good reason now to do it, people might just think I wanted to show off. Or I might get a noise complaint??
 
But the circumstances now, with unemployment and health stresses closing in around everyone’s brains, WE MUSICIANS ARE NEEDED. DIRELY NEEDED. 
 
Humanity has enough musical talent that every block should have the capability to have porch pop-ups, if only all us, professionals, semi-pros and capable amateurs alike would just do it. If you are the musician of your block, take it as your job to spread your gift of musical therapy to the stressed people around you. 
 
And if you need to earn money while doing it, you could set out your recordings, sell a few and build your name in the community. They’ll know you’re a serious player, and want to support you! 
 
And there’s another reason- rather than sitting inside and getting depressed because all your shows are cancelled, you’ll give yourself a sense of purpose too.  
 
Musicians, this is your time to contribute. Hashtag #porchpopup and spread the encouragement to musicians everywhere! This is our time.  
 
It’s time to get over any reticence you have, and just make it happen!!
 
Jacquie Drew

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