We long for the good old days - which in fact were only about 2 ½ years ago - and feel helpless. We wonder if we’ll ever be able to gather as we once did without exposing our loved ones and ourselves to this scourge.
But hey, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. In the music world I often see much more hopeful information, thank goodness. Yes, performances have been curtailed, postponed or cancelled but innovative players have found ways to generate at least a fraction of the income they once enjoyed, playing in smaller venues, online concert events and even house concerts. From a listener’s point of view this is often quite wonderful; only a couple short years ago there was often no way you could be “up close and personal” with well-known musicians at the top of their game.
My experiences over the last 2 ½ years have mirrored what all professional musicians are dealing with albeit on a much more modest scale. Thank goodness - no, thank you Kathy Hickey, owner of the Daily Brew and all my loyal students - I’ve managed to stay afloat. Sad to say, this latest variant has already cost me well over $500 due to cancelled lessons (but I do sincerely thank the students who did not want to risk exposing me to the virus) and apparently we still have not reached the peak of new cases on a day to day basis here on Cape Cod.
At the same time, I have heard of and experienced many wonderful moments. Here are a few.
Overall, students I presently have and a few who used to take lessons and I have stayed in touch with have reported that playing their guitars has taken them to a deeper love of music and playing during these troubled times. For a few minutes of hours a person can mentally push away the relentless bad news and focus on something that truly does soothe the soul. I feel that way too. I have seen my tip glass that I set out at the Daily Brew fill up faster and with larger bills. And more than a few times customers have sincerely thanked me for being there; in many cases my playing has been the first contact with live music they’ve had since the start of the pandemic and they are grateful that I’m there.
When someone expresses those feelings I feel true joy regardless if they leave a tip or not. This is NOT taken as an ego boost; hopefully, I moved past that many years ago. Knowing that my playing has touched someone is one of the primary reasons I’ve continued playing at the Brew for the last twelve years.
Maybe it’s because I am fortunate enough to live a wonderful small New England town but I have seen and heard of many, many kind gestures by strangers that might never have happened in “normal” times. From things like “paying it forward” in the line at a doughnut shop (paying for the order of a person who is next in line at the take-out window). Being much more aware of the needs of our neighbors and making their days more tolerable - I am blessed to have a next door neighbor who was kind enough to do just that: run an extension cord over from their whole-house generator after a severe storm we had couple months ago. Doing things for a person in need with absolutely no thoughts of being paid to do it, sometimes even anonymously.
Learning patience with the understanding that no one’s job is as it was before. Most of us are still in the early stages of accepting the outcome of a task and how long it may take but I see a positive step in that direction. We had become used to almost instant gratification in every aspect of our lives, but was that really such a great thing? If we have to wait a bit for something we might have bought on a whim, critical thinking comes into play much more often. And to my mind anyway, that critical thinking can save us a lot of money. I know this to be true because a beautiful Epiphone Riviera (out of stock just about everywhere) that popped up in a Facebook ad does NOT live with me!
The importance of kindness in our every-day lives used to be something that was easy to overlook, for me anyway. Kindness and compassion are appreciated on a much deeper level these days, for both parties involved. I see it almost every day in totally unexpected ways.
I am not saying that “treat others as you would have them treat you” is something brand new…far from it. Many people have lived by The Golden Rule for their entire lives. All I’m saying is that I just think more of us are living it now. Conversely, there are many people who are angry and filled with rage that Covid has taken away many things they enjoyed; some came to the conclusion that it is just a nefarious plot and has to be ignored or defied even if it puts friends and loved ones at risk. I have come to my own conclusion regarding those people and it goes like this: Be prepared to accept the results of your decisions.
But I want to wrap this up on the positive side. Rejoice in small but wonderful things, in fact, look for them. Or better yet, be a positive force in all you do, no matter how difficult that may be. Share your music or let it be a balm for you alone. But whatever you do, be part of the solution.
Peace & good music,