Another month has gone by and the world is still dealing with Covid 19 with all the restrictions that come along with it, unless you live in Sweden where life seems to be going on as normal.
There is a particular quality to the restrictions seven months on. At the beginning the lockdown was a bit of a novelty. Some people even relished it because it was an opportunity to rest and do other things that weren’t possible when keeping a full diary of work commitments. But now, it’s draining, tedious, boring, stressful, fear and anxiety inducing, isolating – pick your adjective.
A student at one of the music colleges wrote to me today asking for help to deal with the situation. She wrote that she was battling with anxiety and practising was difficult. She found herself staring mindlessly at the music, struggling with motivation and feeling overwhelmed. Actually, I think she has summed up pretty much everything that so many musicians are feeling, along with the added stress for so many, of not knowing when the next concert will be, and of course, the financial issues that come with it.
Human connection and kindness
I gave a lesson to a new student today and was blown away by his extraordinary sensitivity and expression. When I mentioned it to him, he seemed surprised. He doesn't appear to see himself like that, but for me, having had hundreds of students come through my doors over the years, he was exceptional. Not the most accomplished player yet, but it didn't matter for me today: his ability simply to express himself to another human being was moving and it's still with me a few hours later. I think the reason it’s impacted me so much is because the restrictions so many of us are dealing with, have chipped away at our normal ways of connecting - think (anti) social distancing, masks etc. What this student reminded me of, is the importance of human connection, in this case through creative expression. Somehow, in the middle of these challenging times we need to keep finding that human connection: it’s essential for our sanity and our mental and emotional well-being.
The other quality that that I think is essential is kindness. What we’re dealing with globally, is unusual, intense and exceptionally challenging on so many levels. People are struggling. We need to cut ourselves some slack when we don’t achieve as we’d like to, when we have a bad practice session or whatever it may be. Kindness has an incredible way of helping us connect with ourselves and connect with other people; it’s gentle and forgiving, something we all need when the going is tough.