Suggestions for the classical musician,


Life alone can be difficult at the best of times. Thanks to our mammalian heritage, humans do need companionship. With the arrival of the Corona Virus and the lock down of some countries (with more to follow most certainly), people are quarantined in their homes.

Many are not used to this. They were free to come and go, and indeed, most spent their days out of their homes. Now, they have to stay in.

In Italy, spontaneous street concerts are going on as people open their windows and sing to their neighbours. That's a wonderful thing, but evening comes and it's time to go to bed - or, we would all like a bit of quiet.

Quarantined Italians, singing from their homes
Quarantined Italians,
singing from their homes

So, what do you do in the enforced solitude?

For some, solitude is a source of pain because troubling thoughts enter their minds - going out and living a life was part of dealing with those troublesome thoughts.

[The Desert Fathers knew all about this, though they erroneously called the thoughts bad demons. They had a few suggestions for dealing with them. Only a few, and most are encumbered by a religiosity that we do not share].

Back to the question: What do you do?

I will offer a few suggestions, and if the editor likes them, I will offer a few more every day while quarantines go on.

Musicians' Quarantine suggestions:

  1. Practice your instrument.
  2. Relearn an old piece from your repertoire.
  3. Learn a new piece.
  4. Learn a modern piece of music.
  5. [Crucial Aside: Many musicians are ensemble musicians. Only pianists and the like get to play music not needing any other assistants. They have an advantage here. Other musicians are less fortunate - conductors least of all, because the music does not exist until they have an orchestra. I will offer suggestions for ensemble musicians in a moment].

  6. Listen to YouTube videos of those pieces. If the performances are good, tell the musicians in the comment sections. If you think a good word makes you happy, imagine what a good word will do for someone else who is also in quarantine!
  7. If you know of a musician who you admire and they have a webpage with contact information write them a polite and significant letter congratulating them on their musicianship and their creativity. Thank them for their influence on you (if they had that), and thank them for the joy they have given you. Make it a brief message, and do not burden them with multiple letters. If they reply, consider deeply if you should write a further letter. In most cases it is not appropriate.
  8. And now for you ensemble forlorn musicians:

  9. There are pieces for every music instrument that are designed as solo works. Learn one. Or two. Or thirty.

    Suggestions: Bach so(lo violin and cello works. Also transcribed for viola.

    Every other instrument has a large repertoire of such music. Do you really need me to make a list???
  10. Singers: Learn a Gregorian Chant. No other musicians are required.
  11. The opening of the eighth century plainchant 'Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est'
    The opening of the eighth century plainchant Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est

  12. Set up your computer for a FaceTime video call, and have a jam session with another musician. Record it so you can both glory in your success.
  13. Contact a living composer and ask him/her to write you a quarantine composition for your instrument. Pay him or her, or pay him/her by recording it and posting it to social media. (Someone needs to do a #ClassicalQuarantineMusic)

There. Ten suggestions. We'll see if the editor likes it and I can continue with three more every day.

Copyright © 18 March 2020 Gordon Andrew R,









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