The beginning of the end? – Jodie Mitson

Digital Ambassador Jodie Mitson chronicles life as an RNCM trombonist in a series of monthly blog posts.

Congratulations for reaching the end of the Spring term! This term is usually the busiest of the year, where academic classes come to an end and recital preparation and planning takes shape. The close of term this year culminated in video assessments, essay submissions and final lecture fun, although it is a bit strange to not have actually met my lecturer in person! We did however miss (as we did last year) the hubbub of end of term concerts and Easter excitement. Even the St Paddy’s day party had to be virtualised – you’d have thought my quiz knowledge would have improved this past year, but no…

I for one could not have imagined still being in lockdown a year on, it was so surreal this time last year saying goodbye to people for what we thought was just an extended Easter break. ‘See you in a few weeks’ we called. Some people jokingly shouted, ‘see you in September’, but no one quite understood the truth behind their remarks. We must be near the end now, a year on surely!? There is definitely light at the end of what at times has seemed like an endless tunnel, but my reaction is still to approach with caution. Everyone will have had different experiences of lockdown and isolation, it has not been easy, it feels quite daunting seeing a potential unlocking finally unfolding.

The next few months are planned to be the reawakening of the country and the economy, but are we ready? Personally, I cannot wait for concert halls to reopen, but unfortunately this may be a while off yet. At college we will have to continue with streaming concerts to virtual audiences for the time being. At least students in Manchester have been able to access the building since March 8 for personal practice, distanced face-to-face teaching and small chamber group rehearsals which I know has been beneficial. I cannot wait to be back in a city environment, living with friends again, regaining independence and showing first years what a pub is! However, will mask wearing, hand sanitiser and no hugging become a cultural norm? In a bustling city like Manchester, seeing crowds is more normal than in towns and villages, so it might take people from smaller places longer to feel comfortable in a larger group again.

It’s really hard to plan ahead when you can’t remember quite how hectic life was when you could go to Karaoke Tuesday after an evening rehearsal and be up bright and early for your Wednesday morning lecture. The prospect of being busy again and having to go out is daunting, as well as exciting. My only hope is that people realise it’s going to take time to readjust and acclimatise to the real normal again, second and first year students will be experiencing their first summer term in Manchester so there will be new experiences for nearly half of the RNCM cohort to explore. Let’s just hope the northern weather holds up!

Good luck to all at readjusting back to normality after a pretty manic year! Take time off this Easter and prepare for what hopefully will be a summer term of everything we’ve been missing. Only two more weeks till the pubs open! I’ll see you there.

30 March 2021