I’m sorry, everyone. I think this is all my fault. This is what happens when one signs off an early-March post like this:
“Here’s hoping for a significantly less dramatic month to come!
Smooches (the non-sticky and germ-free sort) to All!”
Yeah… sorry about that.
As you’ve likely gathered, all of the music I blithely posted about in early March was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I’m grateful, truly, that I managed to sing into mid-March without falling ill. Not long after that, a horrifying story broke about a choir in Washington who rehearsed on March 10th. There hadn’t been any local cases reported, so sixty singers showed up. There was hand sanitizer at the door, they avoided physical contact, they spread themselves out, nobody felt ill or was coughing or sneezing, and they rehearsed for two hours. Forty-five of those sixty singers contracted coronavirus, and two of them have died.
Last week, some German churches reopened, but with restrictions intended to minimize virus spread. One of those restrictions specifically bans singing–no choir, no hymns, no sung liturgy.
This week, a number of US singing organizations, including the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the American Choral Directors Association gave a webinar on the future of singing, and they presented data suggesting that singing is a super-emitting activity and concluded that it will not be safe to sing in groups until everyone is vaccinated or a 95% effective treatment is discovered. They estimated that it could be 1-2 years before we can sing with and for others.
While those of us who paid attention to the news out of Washington and Germany were not surprised by the recommendations, privately suspecting something is quite different from seeing it laid out in a presentation, and “a while” feels a lot more hopeful than “up to two years.” Shortly after the webinar aired, I got together via Zoom with a group of music professionals across the spectrum: singers, teachers, choir directors, church musicians, composers, recording professionals, many of whom fit in multiple categories. But what started as a collective lament for live music and checking in on one another in the aftermath the webinar quickly turned into a brainstorming session, with people sharing their experience and expertise to help one another figure out how to do things.
And that’s why I love my music community so much: we face the dangers of the world together with love and care for one another.
So this will be my first post for a while that doesn’t include a list of all the awesome performances I have coming up. But my beloved spouse and I are well and still (thankfully!) employed. The Long Low Ladies are enjoying having me work from home as well as the extra-long rambles at sunset. I’ve been doing Zoom yoga with SACRA/PROFNA friends, Zoom check-ins with All Souls’ church choir friends, and Zoom vocal exercises and virtual-ish singing with San Diego Master Chorale friends. In April, I celebrated National Poetry Month by dropping off copies of my book, RISK A VERSE: A Year in Daily Sonnets at eight neighborhood Little Free Libraries that I encountered on walkies, including this one:
I’ve also been doing some singing for virtual services at All Souls’ Episcopal Church (feel free to join us via Facebook Live on Sundays at 8:00 am or 10:15 am Pacific Time!) and I’m making fits and starts towards making music and writing things again.
I have every confidence that live music will come roaring back when it’s safe to gather again. But at this point, I’m grateful that there are still plenty of things that I can work on that don’t involve putting people I love at risk of contracting a deadly illness. And for now, that’s enough.
Be well, be safe, and above all, be kind.