The opening line to Twelfth Night refers to a remedy to heal broken hearts. It alludes to an excess of music as being a cure or medicine for the soul. During these times, performers are finding the lack of events and audience reaction almost as hard to cope with as the isolation of shielding. In fact, it’s a feeling similar to that of being separated from a companion. Some people may find it hard to relate to musicians feeling like this when they are are restricted from performing. After all, they are still surrounded by family and friends.
The importance of performing
Many studies over the years have looked at the genres of music and the emotions that the various rhythms and associated lyrics evoke. The soothing effect of chill-out tracks on a holiday beach and the punchy rock anthems at a speedway meeting represent the two extremes, and they can be as mentally stimulating as visual images.
What makes performing so important to a musician is the connection with the sounds, their instruments, and the art of producing the track. It can be both therapeutic and stimulating, and for regular performers almost addictive. So it is no surprise that they experience a feeling akin to withdrawal symptoms after long gaps between events.
The direct connection is missing
As mentioned before, a number of artists have established Facebook pages and YouTube channels to stream music from their own homes. But the direct connection with other musicians and the audience is still missing. The Rule of Six has helped in as much that rehearsals (following all the guidelines with respect to risk assessments and social distancing) can go ahead. So bands can prepare for a return to some sort of normality. Some venues have opted either for outdoor events with limited audiences and all the restrictions. Others have chosen to run very strict indoor events, where it can be hard to police the requirements.
However, this hasn’t helped the aspiring and recreational players who support the sizeable number of open mic and acoustic sessions. Most of these are in venues unsuitable for the prescriptive precautions required for the events to resume.
For many of those that attend, the sessions are much more than just a social gathering. They provide a platform for musical and practical development of their art.
As we look forward to a new year, the need to restart and attend regular sessions will be a priority for many. Hopefully we can go back to supporting the venues that have survived.
Local open mic listings will updated as soon as permitted and can be found at www.outa-stock.co.uk/OM.htm
WORDS David Bailey