As musicians, this lockdown is hitting us hard in the wallet, but also in the head. For many of us, our minds are wired to perform on stage, in front of a breathing, 3D audience. But staying home means a lot of that energy is now unspent, and left to drift. We’ve collected some ideas to redirect your efforts into something constructive.
There was a time where rehearsing was so everyday, so routine, that we didn’t consider it an ‘experience’. But it was. Remember the pierce of a snare shot? The hot breath of a cranked amp, or the boom of a grand piano? We know we miss it.
Still, whilst we have to pause live rehearsal for the time being, now is a golden time to focus on personal improvement. Not jamming or noodling - but sober, targeted practice. What direction do you want to grow in? Faster playing, better rhythm, tricky chord changes? Tailor and observe a practice schedule to inch towards your goals.
Learning how to practice is a skill in itself - here’s an article you might find helpful.
Learn how to practice
Practice setting up and tearing down
Outside of classical music, being a musician often means sharing the night with other performers on a bill. Respect them. If you’re not the final act, you should remove your equipment from the stage immediately, so the next artist has enough time to comfortably set up, and the schedule can run as planned.
Now that you have the time, practice building and stripping your rig - like a soldier assembling a rifle. You normally play with a 15-minute changeover? Aim to be off stage in five. This is a ‘soft skill’ in music that everyone will appreciate - from the other bands, to the stage manager, to the sound tech.
Put your twist on a live video
We know, we know. Everyone’s doing it. But for good reason: posting or live-streaming a video is the closest you’ll come to playing live. A calculated video can resuscitate or even boost your online presence, whilst giving you some praise to chew on until you’re on stage again.
As with anything mainstream, you’ll need to find a way to separate yourself from the others. At the very least, pick an aesthetic or unusual background to create visual interest. This could be a decorated corner of your home, or even a rehearsal space to add a ‘live’ feel to your video.
Or how about playing something nobody expects? You have time. Use it to dip into a new genre, or cover an artist far from your normal style of music. Surprise your audience with your versatility. And the benefits of this go beyond one video. By learning a new style, you’ll suck fresh melodies and concepts into your vocabulary. This can only make you a better musician.
Share your music through a live video
The venues are shut, but musicians continue to exist in the ether we call the internet. If you haven’t yet scraped together an online profile, maybe now is the time to do so. Everyone is shivering in the same lifeboat, so try to open conversations - post in musician groups, or join music networking portals. When things return to normal, these connections might bear fruit as more audience, more likes, or even career opportunities.
Matter of perspective
Few are the industries, disciplines and hobbies that will escape a beating from this quarantine. Zoom out of your home and you’ll find millions of swimmers without a pool, tennis players without a court, or dancers without a studio. The list is long. Take some comfort in the sad fact that 2020 will be a stunted year for almost everyone and everything.
But if you need a life jacket, try this: if things ease by summer, we could see a volcanic surge in music demand - celebrating a return to normality. So keep your chin up and your public profile groomed. Hopefully, once restrictions are lifted, you can leap out of the gate with fresh vigour. Until then, stay safe - and sane!
Written by Neelesh Vasistha