11 Tips for Musicians in Quarantine
Digital Ambassador and RNCM Composition student Athanasia Kontou shares her top tips to help musicians through quarantine
Hello, lovely people! Hope you are all keeping well! With things changing so rapidly in the lives of all of us (despite what the infuriating photo below suggests…) I decided to write this blog post so that I can share a few ideas and thoughts I had on how us musicians (composer in my case) can not only survive this difficult time, but also take advantage of it.
I find that keeping healthy and sane is the top priority, so the first few pieces of advice are related to general health and wellbeing, things that I have found helpful and I’m trying to implement in my everyday quarantine life.
1. Sleep well
There’s no doubt we are going through quite stressful times, so good quality of sleep is key to taking care of yourself and mental health! Plus resting well is crucial for our immune systems to be at the top of their game which is exactly what we all need at the moment! So please prioritise giving a good rest to those gorgeous music-making brains of yours!
I found the tips in this article particularly useful for improving sleep during periods of stress.
2. Eat well
Fruit and veg, people! A good diet is extremely helpful for boosting our immune system! Make sure to include some green veg in your main meals, and have a piece of fruit every day! I don’t think that what I’m about to suggest would be approved of by every doctor, but a lil’ bit of sugar a day won’t harm either. Obviously be careful not to overdo it, but, what the heck, the situation being as rough as it is, I think we’ve all earned the right to have a couple of chocolate biscuits with our tea! I personally find that having a sweet treat to look forward to always helps.
It could be a walk in the park, a jog, or a workout routine (there are loads of great YouTube channels with home workout routines) but now that we are not moving as much, doing a little something for our bodies everyday is absolutely crucial, not just for our physical wellbeing, but also for our mental health.
4. Stay connected – check up on one another
It’s a great time for catching up with people, even if it’s online! Call your parents a bit more frequently, chat with friends and relatives. It’s important to remember that it might be a very lonely and challenging time for all of us, so don’t be afraid to reach out to people if you need to!
If you feel like you are doing fine, why not spare a few minutes to send a text to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while? They might appreciate it more than you think, and it might make yours and their day just a little brighter!
5. Have some socially-distanced fun!
Admittedly this period won’t be the best time of our lives for any of us, but who says we still can’t make some nice memories? Even stuck at home, there are plenty of things you can do to have a smashing evening.
Have a nice meal with your housemates where you actually dress up, or keep an eye out for online partying opportunities, such as online Pub Quizzes (our SU have been very pro-active with organising fun events for us!)
Now for the more work-related advice:
6. Stick to a routine
Assign different parts of the day to different activities/tasks you want to keep up with, (e.g. composition in the morning, score-reading in the afternoon, instrument practice in the late afternoon), and try to repeat them so that it feels like you have a steady routine.
Other than the obvious advantage of this, which is that it keeps you more organised and focused, the submarine captain in this video talks about how routine makes time go by much faster!
Another little trick I find that works for me, is making lists of things I want to have done by the end of the day, even if it is small, easy and pleasant tasks, such as reply to an e-mail or call my parents. It just feels quite satisfying crossing things off your list (maybe that’s just me being terribly OCD).
7. Separate work space from downtime space
This is very basic working-from-home advice and I am sure many of you will have already thought about it, since it is quite common for musicians (especially composers) to work from home anyway (we’re quite lucky that we can do that as opposed to so many other people!)
Having a specific room (or part of a room) that you use as a workspace, and a different one where you relax or e-socialise is key to making your working time more productive.
8. Listen to lots of music
I am going to be honest with you, I really miss live concerts, and I think this loss is what I dislike the most about the current situation. In lieu of that, however, we are lucky to have so much music available online.
Another amazing resource is the plethora of online concerts from musicians and concert halls all over the world. These can give you a great chance to get to know new artists, performers, composers that you wouldn’t normally see live.
9. Pick up that instrument
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t good at keeping up with my piano playing pre-quarantine, but I have recently managed to do a bit more of it!
So if you have neglected your instrument, now’s the time to make up for it. If you don’t feel like playing what others have already written, explore the possibilities of your instruments, or play an experimental free-improv gig for your neighbours (I’m sure they would love it!).
10. Revisit / revise old scores
If you’re a composer take a closer look at your old work, think of what you could have done differently and make changes, self-reflect; this could be your chance to start a new era in your creative life: the post-pandemic era!
11. Take advantage of the new musical landscape
It’s extremely hopeful and inspiring to see how quickly lots of ensembles and musicians have reacted to the whole situation, creating new opportunities for composers that make the most out of the situation, such as the ones that our very own Larry Goves has set up for us.
Look out for these and if you’re a composer write some sweet quarantine tunes (mark my words, Quarantine music will be studied as a separate genre/movement in a few decades time)!
Lots of strength and love to all of you, remember we’re all in this together! :)
29 April 2020