A musician in 'lockdown'...!
Updated: Sep 1
Without any thought for what it might lead to, one evening late March this year, the day after the first NHS ‘clap’, I began offering 15-20 minutes music on my driveway here in Ealing in London – every evening at exactly 9.30pm. I live in a kind of cul-de-sac, so it’s an ideal place to stage something unusual like this. As I began to play at first just the odd window opened or someone might pop out on to their own drive to see what this odd guy was doing, bringing an electric keyboard out to play in what was then darkness – and cold!
The last of these concerts was on Summer Solstice, June 20th, so roughly 90 ‘concerts’ in all - just the one night off after a VE Day ‘special’ the day before. We were always careful and conscious of social-distancing but it was so clear that the neighbourhood was relieved and happy to wander outside, often glass in hand to listen to some music and exchange their lockdown experiences with, as it turned out, newly found friends. Over these three months it wasn’t just classical piano; I enlisted my musical family and we enjoyed lots of jazz, singing, melodica, homemade percussion... we celebrated several neighbourhood birthdays as they occurred with renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ in our own inimitable bossanova style! It was inevitable that we would eventually attract other local talent who grew in confidence to put themselves forward as ‘guest artists’ – which in itself lead to an ‘X-factor’ event! The Last Night was close on a three hour show, complete with fireworks...
As we brought our ‘run’ to a close it was exciting to know that it all began with a single Chopin Nocturne, without any grand plan going forward; none of the usual marketing, profiles, advertising and the like! Don’t get me wrong, making plans and having ambitious strategies promoting one’s profile is important to get right especially in today’s fasting moving social media arena, but for what it’s worth, my lockdown experience reminded me to start with an uncluttered and simple idea, nurture it and watch closely how it develops; see how it moves and affects people around you and above all communicate with your audience directly and personally.