Let the music play on…by Monarose Sheila Pereira September 15 2020, 12:08 am Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins, 15 secs
Musicians and singers share their stories about how they’re coping during lockdown, with Monarose Sheila Pereira.
No gigs, no events, no mehfils, no shows and no releases and recordings.
That’s how it’s been for the music industry since the last six months. Most musicians, singers, lyricists and sound engineers who were working round the clock in early March 2020, have had to stay home and find alternate ways to cope. While those who continue to earn from copyright ownership because consumers have more time to indulge themselves now than they did before, the young and aspiring were halted in their tracks. They were left with no choice but to wait. Wait until life goes back to normal or else it adapts to a ‘new normal’, which is yet to be defined.
Live performers, bands and the musicians accompanying singers at clubs, festivals, restaurants and bars have suffered the most. Their livelihoods are impacted greatly and it will take a long time for them to bounce back. Yet the spirit remains and so does the music. They continue to sing, play, teach, perform and inspire irrespective. Here’s how some of the artists we know are managing their professional and personal lives during the lockdown. Over to them.
Singer, Bhajan Samrat
My Bigg Boss 6 weeks was my rehearsal; the same thing is happening again. This time I m facing Corona. I feel I need more than 24 hours. My music, meditation, study, treadmill, TV Interviews, teaching my students on the net, my lord I need a few more hours every day to complete all this. It’s time given to us by nature to think about what is more important? Hindu, Muslim, rich, poor, VIPs and politicians; all are looking the same and trying to save their lives. I hope after the lockdown, we humans come out uplifted from all these petty feelings.
Vocalist of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana of Hindustani Classical music
I do not take up any live vocal performances because: (a) I do not like the distance between me and an invisible audience, (b) On-line messages from the audience are extremely distracting and (c) electronic instruments are not an effective alternative to live accompaniment.
The whole presentation sounds extremely artificial. All my teaching activities are one-on-one (not in a group), and are conducted on the internet using platforms like Skype, Zoom, etc. The main difficulty in on-line teaching is the time lag in Tabla beats between the two remote locations. However, this is somehow overcome by switching off instruments on each end when the other end is live. If the internet signal is strong, then a video teaching session is much better than audio, as body language is visible.
Also known as Amrit Khanjira, Khanjira player
I am using this lockdown for practicing, composing, listening to music and most importantly spending time with my family. A chance to look back at my life journey, introspect and have clarity for a better future. This Lockdown is putting things in the right perspective worldwide. It’s a very tough phase for independent musicians, artists and similar fields. The economic slowdown will take time to recover.. especially for arts and culture. The governments and organizations should consider this aspect too. I hope and pray that this phase passes off soon, gets back to normal and everyone is safe.
In these difficult and trying times I am always looking at the positive and creative soul within me. Solitude for an artist is always blissful. I am lucky to have my daughter Reewa, an exceptional singer and composer with me at home. We spend a lot of time exploring and listening to musical gems together. My wife, daughter and I sit and practice together. We also indulge in playing games and doing meditation together. Our pet dogs are very happy to see us at home all the time. I have also restarted playing the Tabla after almost thirty five years. I offer lots of prayers for the wellbeing of the world Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu.
My lockdown days are as usual. I wake up when I have had enough sleep, do my daily routine of practicing my instruments and workout. Whatever time I have left after all the chores I spend them on Netflix and or PUBG. That for me is life as usual. It's when I get out of the house to get supplies is when I see a change. Everything is so empty and quiet. In the beginning it was scary. Never seen Bombay go so silent, not even when they imposed a 'Bombay bandh'. The sound of birds chirping and insects crinkling is so loud, it feels like standing in a jungle. A swarm of birds is the most majestic thing in the sky. The wind has a deafening deep noise to it. Dogs rest on tarmacs as if they reclaimed these deserted streets. Things one can only experience in calm and serenity. I wish I could experience more of this magnificent world with limited human intervention.
Violinist and Flutist
The lockdown has affected me positively and negatively, both. As a performing musician and as a music educator, travelling took up most of my time pre-lockdown. But now I have more time to practise my instruments and teach more students since I have completely shifted my sessions online. I now also teach western vocals, electronic keyboard, violin and bansuri (Indian classical flute) to students living in the United States, the UK and New Zealand and I also collaborate with various artists.
For one, I don't call it a lockdown, I call it a downtime. If you are reading this in comfortable surroundings, with food in your stomach and free time to surf the internet, why make yourself feel bad by calling this a lockdown? It’s downtime and it can be used as you wish. I wake up very early, meditate and then I go back to sleep and wake up again by 7. Then I meditate and chant. I have started doing online meditations and discussion from my Facebook page - it is my bit of service to contribute to good energy, helping people deal with needless fear and connect to the power within them.
After that I make breakfast. As the help we have, doesn’t come daily because the buildings don’t allow outsiders anymore. Sometimes my days go in cleaning the place and I call it exercise - using different muscles, you move about and I put music on and clean the place. I cook lunch and clean up after lunch, then sit and study, work on meditation, which is in collaboration with my musical brother Santosh Nair. Together, we are making online-for-free available for people to use during this time. Cresinda D’costa is making the videos for us.
I spend a lot of time studying and researching and for the first time in all these years I am spending time on social media - from being digitally challenged and digitally resistant to now has been a step forward because I’ve probably spent more time on it in these last monts than all the years since its inception.
This downtime was spent listening to others fears and stupid messages too, which were going around on social media. I was encouraged to learn and do my bit towards contributing positive energy so that I could spread light in the darkness.