This really happened. Two days ago, I walked into a bank to make a withdrawal and they thanked me for wearing a mask.
This world ain’t the same.
I’ve been enjoying the free concerts online, the Zoom performances, the YouTube concerts, and everything else I can soak up while I sit in my living room wondering if anything good is on Netflix. We’ve gone through all the Law & Order SVU series, Law & Order UK, and even the Tiger King. Hence, these concerts are a life saver.
So, I’ve decided to give back with what I can contribute to the arts during this pandemic. On May 15th I’ll hit the three-year mark in taking violin lessons. As you may know, I started taking lessons two weeks before my 68th birthday, and now as I approach 71, I’m going strong with this entire venture.
As all of us know, with the Covid-19 pandemic, performances and recitals have been canceled unless they are on Zoom or some other form of media where we can remain both figuratively together and literally apart. I look forward to the recitals and soirees my teacher, Mirabai Peart, organizes each autumn and spring. They’re a lot of fun. Being the outlier in the group – the tallest by several inches, and the oldest by several decades – I have a lot of fun with the kids. Clearly, the teenagers are far better than me, but so what? It’s not a competition. It’s a celebration. Also, the treats the parents bring are fantastic.
However, with all of that on hold until who-knows-when, I’ve decided to take things into my own hands.
I’ve started playing short solo shows in the parks around Portland, Oregon. I call them CoronaConcerts. I take my violin, go to a picnic table or an open dock, tune up and play for about fifteen minutes. I do wear a mask, and call myself the Masked Fiddler.
The first time I did this I spent about half an hour wandering around a park trying to convince myself that I should just go home and practice. I kept telling myself, “If I play it will disturb their quiet afternoon. What if I hit some wrong notes? What if I mess up? What if? What if? What if?”
Then I got tired of listening to myself. I put my violin case on a picnic table, got out the bow and violin, tuned up, and played. It was great.
Regardless of rules that people should stay home, it was a stunning afternoon in the low 70’s, and people were everywhere, playing catch, lounging on blankets, walking, jogging, and so forth. Nobody was less than 20 feet from each other - more or less. It was a well self-regulated crowd. People smiled. We talked between songs. We laughed. We shared the afternoon and made a human connection.
I’ve done five of these short-but-sweet concerts, and I’m going to do this as often as possible. It’s just plain fun.
I recommend it to you as well. Get out of the house – with a mask – and play. Why not? It’s not like there is a pressing concert schedule. Have some fun.
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