June would normally be a very busy period for me conducting a flurry of concerts throughout the month, accompanying recitals, leading workshops, adjudicating and examining, as well as teaching and preparing candidates for diploma exams. However, this year the lockdown has made the month devoid of live performance with others. In musical isolation I am doing quite a lot of organ practising, resurrecting old repertoire that I have not played in a quarter of a Century, and learning new pieces – all in an attempt to keep the fingers agile and ‘the little grey cells’ active. I am enjoying the luxury of time to be able to do this – just for my own edification!
Competitive Music Festivals have also been cancelled, which has resulted in Adjudicators losing their engagements, and competitors missing the opportunity of preparing and receiving expert individual feedback and advice on their performances.
My sympathy is with my freelance colleagues who have been devoid of their livelihood during this pandemic. For many professional musicians (instrumentalists and singers), most and in some cases all of their performance engagements for the whole year have been cancelled, resulting in a total loss of income. Private teachers also have lost a huge percentage of their income, though some have managed to keep some lessons going via Skype, Zoom, Facetime etc.
Once again, I urge my students to keep in good vocal health and fitness by regular purposeful exercises, also, constantly looking at new repertoire to develop musical skills and stylistic awareness. There is a wealth of material on the internet to widen the musical horizons: much free sheet music is available to download (IMSLP) and performances to scrutinise (YouTube and Spotify). Motivation is often difficult without specific targets such as lessons, festivals, exams and performances. However, enormous benefits will come from a regular structured daily approach to exploring the wealth of wonderful music available, together with constant work at vocal development. Be disciplined, and build into every day a specific time to devote exclusively to singing development and musical enjoyment!
The main thing is that we keep safe and physically healthy, using our musical skills to give aesthetic fulfilment and mental stimulation for our psychological wellbeing.
Enjoy your music!