Lockdown Lullabye

I think Alison and I started isolating at home around March 17, which puts us at two months of social distancing behavior in reaction to the Covid 19 pandemic. In a general sense for us, things haven’t been that bad, Alison has been able to work her development job from home, and my studio has kept busy with pandemic related podcasts and remote mixing. We are fortunate to have avoided getting the illness, as far as we can tell there is no plague in the household. And nobody close to us has sickened or died from the virus. So, lucky.

One of the things I had going pre-covid was hosting weekly ukulele jams in Catskill and at the Chatham Library. Over a period of almost four years I was able to steadily accumulate a small crowd of attendees. By the time of the great hunkering I could play with thirty people between Chatham and Catskill on a Saturday. Pretty nice! More than a few jam participants are retirees and folks like myself who are slowly approaching the upper cohort, by mid March I felt that the CDC recommendations were compelling enough that we should halt the uke jams, so, we did. It was a mutual feeling within our group that gelled over just a few days, easy decision.

Singing is crazy, singing is a spit-fest. You can’t sing with any volume without exhausting lots of particulate, everybody who sings with others knows this. If you project your voice loud enough to fill a room, you’re basically just an aerosol dispenser. We’re not just entertaining, we’re also cheap transportation for a thing the size of a virus. So, in my mind, singing isn’t an advisable activity where contagion is of concern.

Things that mitigate the spitty-singing problem include keeping a distance, limiting duration of exposure and working remotely from one another. You can’t really wear a mask with the singing, so the most common mitigation isn’t available.

Some new problems – but I still have stuff to get done. I aim to get a proper recording of South tracked this year, and that will occur. Everything has to get done safely. There is nothing wrong with the energy of the moment in terms for recording, a little adversity gives performers something to push against and will only benefit a project like South. That’s a thing for future posts.

At the moment, Zoom conferencing rules the waves, every teacher, artist, director and human working online seems to be on for multiple hours per week, if not per day. Zoom is great for what it is, but as a fellow once observed, “The media is the message”, which to me says that every format has its strengths and weaknesses. My previous format was a bunch of people sitting around a table playing little instruments and singing, I love that format, that’s my favorite format, I’d go to the mat for that format! And then, there we were, down on the mat. No biggie, nothing lasts forever, the only constant is change, those things are simply true. So, now the uke jams are on Zoom.

To be clear, I’m not here to grieve, I’m here to keep things going, the ukes are on Zoom, there’s plenty to do by myself and remotely for South, and the change that brought me here will surely carry me from this place as well, hopefully to something as productive, social and fun as a Catskill ukulele jam.

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