I'm throwing a bunch of people on this email who do wonderful work supporting musicians in community contexts through nonprofit organizations.
As some of you know, I've been doing a lot of reflecting and some writing about the important opportunity found in creating one-to-one connections, never more important than during a pandemic. Here's an idea that I think is important enough to disperse widely into the field.
Along with work for Emmanuel Music, I've been keeping busy supporting a number of colleagues, including myself, to experiment with offering both virtual and live one-to-one music-making. During this time of social isolation, creating human connections to combat loneliness (and the associated negative health effects) is a really important societal issue that musicians (all musicians, any musicians) are well-positioned to help address.
The summer months provide the perfect opportunity for orgs to deploy their musicians to connect in personal, meaningful ways with longtime supporters (board, volunteers, donors, etc), an essential constituency for each of our nonprofits. Also because we need to be concerned about the potential for things to get very difficult again in the fall/winter from a public health perspective.
I know that some are currently raising needed emergency funds for musicians. That's really the first priority right now. However, over the summer and into next year, it would be wonderful to have a way to continue to pay interested musicians for an ongoing performing activity that simultaneously bolsters the org's relationship with its community of supporters.
There is tremendous potential for finding additional philanthropy to support such an initiative. Consider one idea: offering an option of "gifting" musical visits with isolated grandparents, relatives, friends, elderly neighbors--either online (less $) or in person (more $). This is something that we can all appreciate, as we all know people who are vulnerable and cut off from useful human connection.
Importantly, this is not only a caring thing to do that provides some benefit to the recipient. Rather, it deepens the org's relationships, and it is also the beginning of experimentation with two kinds of performing that may well be essential skillsets for us to be honing for the foreseeable future:
1. virtual performing over Zoom/FaceTime (what makes it successful as a "live" music experience, how do you create empathy digitally?)
2. in-person, socially distanced performing in outdoor spaces (e.g. driveways, front yards, sidewalks)
It is also, I've found, a pretty significant way of helping musicians feel more optimistic, valued, and socially connected themselves during this time.
I've been reflecting the most on the challenge of creating "live" musical experiences during this time. There's plenty to think about. Happy to think more specifically with any folks about this. Feel free to circulate within your professional networks.
I hope everyone is staying safe while making the best of such strange times.
Sharing project documentation and examples of student thinking, and my own.