These are very strange times for musicians.

For as long as we can remember, we have been told that isolation is a bad thing. We need other people in our lives to build us up and support us. Now more than ever, it seems that this is true. Unfortunately, we have reached a time in our world where coming together is a dangerous thing. Not only to you but to everyone you come in contact with.

Physical Separation, Musicians Face A Challenge

Being forced to be physically separated from other musicians poses a new and daunting challenge for music makers all over the world. How can we sing together? How can we play together? Even solo musicians are learning that their art cannot be fully appreciated without an audience.

Technology & Zoom Meetings

So what do we do now? Video chat platforms like Zoom are less than ideal with their delay and poor sound quality. But, as my grandmother used to say, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” There are still ways to utilize Zoom and similar platforms to create good music-making.

I recently read a Facebook post by the New York City Bar Chorus, explaining how they are going about rehearsals during this difficult time:

How The New York City Bar Chorus Rehearses via Zoom

The chorus splits into sections, and each member of the section receives a link to a Zoom meeting. Once they are in the meeting, the director has all the ensemble members mute their mic and sing along with the director, who is singing or playing difficult sections of a piece that the choir has requested they go over beforehand. In rehearsing this way, the choir members still have the opportunity to engage with one another, though the only voices they hear are their own and the voice of their director. Though the singers may not get the full effect of the choir, they are still making music together, and that is the important thing. The rehearsals can go on for as long as they need to, but choir directors may consider sticking to music that still sounds melodious while only singing one part. Rehearsals like this can be beneficial to all different types of choirs: churches, schools, community choruses… and this method would work well for choirs of all ages. It also provides a way to bring music into people’s homes and allows their family members to enjoy the benefits of choir, even if they themselves are not part of one.

In the face of all that’s going on around us, let us not forget: music is not about you or me or how many or how few people are in an ensemble. Music is about music. If we have to make music a little bit differently, that doesn’t mean that we can’t make it as well as we did before. Just because we can no longer congregate in a choir room surrounded by many people that we love like they’re our own family, doesn’t mean that the love between us dies. The music has not died. Music can never die – and neither can the bond that music creates between musicians.