I gave my now remote college classes a short writing assignment. It was all about what music they are listening to in this time of stress. I decided I would post a contribute too, and so I wrote this:
It’s been about a little over a week since the college closed and moved to remote teaching. All of my concerts for the foreseeable future have been canceled and I am spending way more time sitting and typing on a computer than I like. And with the constant news updates and government press conferences about the COVID-19 virus, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Like many of you, I find myself turning to various entertainments as a distraction and comfort.
Even though, or maybe because I am a musician, I don’t usually listen to music to relax. When I am grading paper (yes, your papers) or tests, I often have the radio on WNYC or TV on , where I watch great intellectual programs like The People’s Court, or the ever present Law and Order –– usually Special Victims Unit, though I‘ll switch it up some times. Something about these procedural dramas makes them easy to “half watch”.
But of course there is music in my life too. Concerts or not, I am practicing. On my stand right now is music for my trio. (Hopefully we can have our June concert and go into the studio to record in July as originally planned.) And I am working on one of Bach’s Cello Suites (transcribed for viola). But the piece I like playing the most right now is a work of Mozart’s – his duo for violin and viola. There is something about the elegance of it that makes it appealing to work on. And, like so much of Mozart’s music, while difficult to play, it needs to sound effortless.
Here’s a link to a recording of the first movement. (Here I posted a Youtube link. In truth Matt and I are working on a transcription of this duo for viola and cello, which we hope to perform this summer.)
As far as listening goes, my husband and I have a substantial media collection: (CD’s and Vinyl) and so we are listening to different things each day – a mix of classical and not classical. Last night it was Dave Brubeck, and the day before was Bach. I haven’t found that one “go to” comfort piece yet, so I am looking forward to reading all your suggestions.
A lot has happened in a really short time. All our teaching is online. Every concert and event canceled and really who knows when things will resume. Instead of rehearsing Friday morning as usual, the three of us met on line to talk about what we can be doing. Time to finally listen to the takes from the pieces we have already recorded. And the judges for the first round of our 8SW Composer Competition should be sending us their adjudications within the next week. And there are other things that can happen. We can still fine tune our music individually, we can write some grants and we can contact presenters about future concerts, because while it’s hard to see it right now, eventually there will be live music in person again.
Months ago I left our Fall update incomplete. Over the next week or so I will finally complete that. Really! It may come in a series of small installments, but it will come.
Meanwhile stay well, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and keep practicing.