Finding Your Own Spirit

I started writing this post back on April 8th when the whole quarantine/virus thing was still relatively fresh. It's now June16th and it's been 13 weeks (or 93 days) since I last played in public. Much has happened since then, but nothing has really changed. If you are a performing artist of any discipline, there is still the possibility of not being able to perform until sometime in 2021. While some things have opened, and I know of some people once again performing in public, it is the exception rather than the rule.

To me, it all comes down to 2 things:

1) What is your health risk if you perform out in public? This is a very important question to ask. I imagine if you are in dire need of money to pay rent and bills, that you will be willing to take more risks in order to make some money.

2) Will it be financially viable to perform for what will be a smaller audience. With social distancing, performance venues will only be able to have perhaps ⅓ of the normal amount of people at events. I know that for me, if many of the places I play at were to open up and only have ⅓ of the people, it would not be financially viable for both me or the venue to even open the doors. I have friends who have already been told it's not financially viable  by venues they were hoping to perform at. 

To make it worth having smaller audiences, venues and artists would have to raise ticket prices to help cover the lost revenue. How much more are people willing to pay to go to a live event now? Are many people are even willing to take the risk to go to an event now, let alone pay higher prices?

There is no real solution for any of this right now. We are in completely new territory, trying to find our way forward.

Today many performers have moved online, offering classes and performances via Facebook, Zoom, and other internet means. Unfortunately, online misses the group dynamic of a performance. But we may all have to get used to online performance for the foreseeable future.

Here's my original blog from April:

For me, it's now day 25 of my self imposed quarantine. As a musician, it's been difficult coming to a hard stop. All my gigs for the foreseeable future have been canceled. Like everyone else across the world, this is a first time experience.

My first reaction was to leave all my gear packed up and give it a bit of time before I jumped into some sort of project. I've seen so many others who have embraced playing on the internet in various modes. I've held off from that and must admit that all my gear is still stacked up in my office making it a challenge to work around it. I keep promising to get it down into my studio, but that is in a total state of disarray, as I've been slowly reworking it and there's really no room for my road gear in there. 

Gongs in the hallway leading to 
the rest of my gear in the office.

So what's a musician to do? Absolutely nothing. 

How many people have dreamed of having weeks/months worth of time in an artist's retreat, where they could do whatever they wanted 24/7? Well, this is MY Artist's Retreat. And I haven't felt like creating or playing any music. And that's OK. But I've been doing a lot of thinking about the music that I currently do and where I want to take it. I've also been listening to a lot of music and podcasts, and watching a lot of videos, both instructional and performance. I have to admit that it's been nice not to feel the pressure of having to be a musician. Yes, I miss it, but I've also embraced this freedom.

Part of my readathon is research for 2 books of my own that I now have time to work on and hopefully finish. I've always wanted to take the time to go on a writer's retreat, so now, here I am. We recently did some major remodeling to our house, so now I have the time to enjoy it. Spring is here and I love to sit at the kitchen table with my laptop and the morning sun shining in—this works out well, as I don't have any big cases of gear stored in the kitchen! 

Another part of this is just finding the spiritual in all of this madness. My art—which is multiple disciplines—really is my spiritual practice, so I've been exploring new ways to embrace it. My wife and I have been able to embrace our love of cooking everyday, whereas before, with a lot of traveling, we often grabbed what we could find in the cities we were in. 

So this quarantine, err, Artist's Retreat, has allowed me to slow down and embrace the things that have deep meaning and spiritual significance to me. It's also helped me connect with many of the things I've always thought about doing, if I had the time. 

Make the most of what you have right in front of you.

Back to real time here and not much has changed from my April post except that I have finally moved all my gear into my studio and set it up (it took until most the end of May). I've spent most of my time reading and writing (1 book is completed and being edited, a 2nd book is ⅓ of the way completed—that's why my blogs have just been sitting there). I've also taken a lot of time to watch YouTube™ videos on a wide variety of subjects. I've been studying sound, acoustics, recording, and watching a lot of performance videos from artists that I like, as well as discovering new ones.

I have performed once online a week ago for a monthly improvised concert series that I regularly play at here in town. I played for a bit over 11 minutes and found it very alien from what I usually do. Playing in my studio to an unknown audience over the internet is not my idea of performing, but I am sure that like other things, I can find a path that will work for me and offer some performances in the future.

I've also spent a lot of time getting my recording studio back up and running. I have almost all new gear to learn. It's a steep learning curve, but well worth it. I recorded 1 experimental thing so far and put the video up on YouTube™:

Times are crazy, times are interesting, times are unknown. We each need to find a new path and forge our way ahead. Keep forging.


Over the past 9 years and 3 different blogs, I've written almost 500 blog posts. That's a lot of my time and energy devoted to putting my thoughts and ideas out there on the internet for you to read. If you've enjoyed reading them, and have gotten value out of them, please consider a donation. You'll be helping me keep writing for hopefully another 9 years. Thank You ~ MB.


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