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Finding colour and projection in lockdown performances

Preparing for a post-lockdown world

I am still part of the BAPAM and Help Musicians mentoring scheme which gives me the privilege of talking to musicians of all types, predominantly rock, pop and folk. In almost every session we discuss the very real and practical challenges of managing the lockdown as a musician and now, increasingly, we are discussing how to perform in the real world again post-lockdowns.

So many musicians have retreated into themselves during this challenging time and are finding it difficult to come out again. Only a year ago, many of us were out in the community, performing on a regular basis. Being out on the stage is a musician’s normal habitat, and we build a certain type of stamina to manage the regularity of these performances. If that is taken away for a year, it can be hard to rebuild the performing habit. School teachers, who are themselves performers, led the way with this since schools opened back up in the UK. A teacher friend of mine told me that three teachers at her school had had panic attacks in the first week of teaching again after such a long time of being at home.

Finding colour and projection again in our post-lockdown performances

So what can we do to support ourselves with this and ease our way back into performing again? We don’t know for sure when we will have the freedom to perform as we used to so we need to start in small and simple ways, at home and in our own practise room. One of my students was playing very well in an online lesson the other day, although a little ‘pastel-coloured.’ I encouraged him to dream up a Brazilian carnival with the wild colours, noise, drama, music and find something of those qualities to instil into his playing. During this time of masks and distancing we have forgotten this type of human craziness, with its colour and vitality. Perhaps watching a Youtube video of the Notting Hill Carnival or something similar might trigger that aliveness. Or we need to play, if we can, to a few real people. If we can’t, we can at least imagine performing to a real live audience. We need anything that can encourage us to project out our musical ideas to an audience, whether imaginary or real. We need to find ways of letting go any muted lockdown playing and rekindle our vitality.

The fiery colours of a Brazilian carnival


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