Because you expect our greatness when this is all over—maybe without compassion for what it has cost us, too—I’d like to give you a sneak peek into musicians’ lives behind the scenes, so you can see with new eyes.
Personally, I really want to attend the 2022 International Composers Festival in the UK and be at the dress rehearsal for my piece, not to mention meet all the amazing composers and conductors. I’m a new composer without forty years ahead of me to develop a career, so this is essential for me. Because I’ve taken the last seven years to study and become a composer and because COVID hit, I only have enough to cover the trip. However, at this point, I’d need another c. $2500 to cover the expense of a ten-day stay in their quarantine hotels when I arrive. Not to mention enough money to survive and pay bills, like everyone else.
When COVID hit, composer premieres were cancelled, performers and their groups lost paying opportunities, pockets buttoned up, and all of us musicians suffered as much as any restaurant owner for whom I have great compassion. Yet, if I might say, we composers and musicians still had to practice or write daily to keep up our skills or create more works…with no promise of pay. Where were the press reports about that?
You know, I rarely talk about money, but there is a lot of press about the financial disaster for waitresses, restaurants, mechanics, teachers, business shut downs, etc. because of Covid. For good reason. They desparately need help. But who is talking about those jobs lost or not funded in music? Music seems non-essential to some, maybe you, but can you go a week without hearing it, being strengthened by it? Can you turn off the sound to a movie and feel the same depth it would take to press those buried emotions to the surface and change your life? Do you freely gripe when a performance is mediocre yet don’t feel the need to have compassion on professional artists who can’t practice because of working side jobs to survive? Someone had to show up “at work” and create your music, practice it, perform it, record it for you. Like you, they expected to get paid at their job so they could pay bills, not to mention studio recording bills, equipment updates, product releases, etc.
So, am I to be convinced that music, including film scores, is not as essential to our spirit as food is to our body? May He who dwells in the praises of His people, forbid. It is music to His ears.
In that group greatly struggling in the pandemic, as we all are, I’m suggesting compassion also should include: those who practice 3-6 hours a day who aren’t allowed to play on their job, orchestras forced to close their doors and lay off musicians, those who sit behind a computer writing music that can’t be performed, those film scores not heard because theatres have been closed, etc. New composers may spend 100-500 hours to compose a piece on a dream and a hope, and then find their premiere cancelled. Performers who can’t play in venues now don’t buy new worthy compositions, so a lot is done for free and given away, such as the piece I sent in and was chosen by the International Composers Festival.
We were born musicians, like some were born into other professionals. No one is non-essential. Essential is not something we have “to become.” We are a generous and compassionate community, asking that you become aware of our need in order that we can continue to supply yours.
I’m not trying for a pat on the back. This is far bigger than me. We musicians pour our heart into the creation of music that helps you feel and walk through life a little stronger. We’ve saved some from suicide and severe depression. We’ve empowered people to take the next scary step. We’ve brought films to life that changed yours. Are we unworthy of inclusion on the list of essentials? We, too, have family and bills that depend on our job like anyone else…and we like to eat. (Chocolate, please.) Don’t dismiss us as non-essential or unworthy of compassion. If it is at all within your power, reach out and help those you know and gain from.
I’ve been a waitress, a candy stripper, a hostess, a sales person, a teacher, performer/conductor, receptionist at an auto repair, and run a successful cosmetic business. All these professions are suffering. So leave a big tip, buy some music to support an artist, watch an online dance performance and donate, and continue to support your local businesses. For some of you, stop stealing music online and give the artist his/her deserved salary. We can’t change the pandemic, but this is a little we humans can do for each other.
It will come back to us in spades.