During the pandemic, many performers whose lifeblood is sharing their gifts with an audience have been left serenading themselves. My friend Bobby McDuffie tells us what it’s like when all the world isn’t the stage.
I am a performer. For close to forty years, I’ve spent 25 weeks a year traveling the world and playing my violin in front of a lot of people. Music is an easier language for me than English. I love speaking that language to live audiences through my instrument. Covid has rendered me mute.
Sure, I’ve done all of those virtual performances these last six months as have many of my colleagues. And, of course, I’ll continue to do so. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but music heals and I’m acutely aware of that. If I can’t speak fluently in a concert hall in the era of Covid, I’ll stutter through Zoom.
But I’m also lucky. I teach at a great university — sometimes remotely and occasionally mask-to-mask — and my students inspire me and I’m grateful for them. But I also worry for them and have been reflecting a lot on that during this time. The structural problems affecting classical music aren’t going away. The wider culture shifted and the classical music industry never adjusted. After Covid, young musicians will face fierce headwinds. I pray my students will address the challenges head-on by connecting to other cultures and speaking through their instruments to new and diverse audiences.
In the meantime, I’ll keep playing live music for my wife, a captive audience of one.
This originally appeared on Medium.