V.com weekend vote: How have you been spending time in isolation?

March 29, 2020, 2:11 PM · "May you live in interesting times..." At this point, I think we can all say that we do.

isolated but together

We find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, with much of the world's human population isolating in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Very unfortunately a growing number of people are suffering with the disease, and with no official treatment and so many shortages, we can only send our prayers and hopes for their recovery.

For many of us, though, the main question is how to spend our time, and how to continue with or revise the projects we had been planning before the outbreak. Also, how do we stay in touch with each other and keep our spirit of community, when we can't visit each other in person?

Many people find themselves with their children suddenly at home from day care, school or college. Depending on the age of your children, this can suddenly be a full-time job, and with schools continuing online, I'm sure it must feel like home-schooling for many. College students were suddenly sent home; this is the case in my house. My son continues his college classes, and we still have to find a way to bring his belongings home.

Performers find themselves with many gigs canceled, but still wanting to create and connect. Many have posted online, which is lovely and hopeful. It doesn't pay the bills, though. It is a time of great concern for those without work. Students and teachers can continue to meet online, and much creativity is happening around this. But it isn't the same as being in the same room, playing with peers, playing a duet with your teacher.

Some jobs continue with a heavy workload. Some people continue to go to jobs. Medical workers are risking their lives on a daily basis to provide care to more patients than are possible to handle.

How are you spending your time these days, and how are you keeping connected to your friends, colleagues and projects? Please look for what best describes your situation in the vote -- I'm limited to five options, so feel free to say "something else"! Then please tell us how you are doing, describe what is going on and how you are coping.


March 29, 2020 at 08:48 PM · Since I'm retired, the changes are minimal, yet kind of significant. We were, and hope to be again, regulars at our local Starbucks, hanging out at a table for an hour plus every morning. That was our cure for "Seniors in the suburbs isolation." Now everyone is isolated, so we're all separately in it together.

My "teaching" is more remote coaching. As I don't have the equipment required for tools like Skype (nor do I want to spend the money and have to learn how to install and use them). My students send me video's of their playing via YouTube, I view them, at various speeds, and send back an e-mail (or the occasional phone call) with recommendations to improve their playing which leads to the next video. I'm also transposing some songs that my students want to play that are in keys that they aren't yet prepared to play into keys that they can play easily (giving myself a crash-course in MuseScore-3). It may sound strange but it is fun.

Linda and I ride out tandem in our village (weather permitting) or in the garage using the fluid resistance trainer when the weather is non-cooperative (I call it Tour-de-Garage - a.k.a., going nowhere fast). Minimal trips to the grocery at 0630 when the store has recently been cleaned and there aren't a lot of people out shopping.

Right now I'm playing through my collection of Hal Leonard's 101 series of books, partly because it is fun, but always looking for something that my students might find fun to play.

Lastly the cats (Harry & Ron - sibling seal-point Siamese) are loving having us at home more time. There are disputes as to who gets which lap sometimes, considering that my lap is considered to be prime turf.

March 29, 2020 at 10:31 PM · Fiddling, cleaning, walks yoga, Pilates, biking, talking with children, friends, and grandchildren on FaceTime, violin lessons, practicing, cooking good meals, taking walks, reading the news only once or twice a day, Netflix and Amazon Prime videos, reading books. Repeat each day.

Sisyphus lives!

March 29, 2020 at 10:42 PM · Today:

Went to the grocery store as they opened at 7 AM and shopped for the week.

Made banana walnut chocolate chip multigrain pancakes for the family, eggs for myself (I do not like pancakes).

Made a batch of taco meat-and-beans for us to have this week.

Worked on a video lecture.

Gave a 1-hour piano lesson by Zoom.

Ate lunch and worked more on my video lecture.

Walked over to my lab at VT (25 min each way, spent about 30 min there).

Read through some piano-trio music with my daughters.

Checked my email while having a bourbon-and-soda.

Made pizza (used ready-made crusts) and a tossed salad for dinner.

Still to do:

Take care of bee's nest on the side of the house.

Complete and upload video lecture.

Write and post a homework assignment.

Think about my research, set goals for the papers I'm working on (four at the moment, which is too many under the circumstances).

Practice the violin.

March 29, 2020 at 11:11 PM · Basically, I've been tking this opportunity to relax, practice a bit, browse the internet, and I've also been participating a lot more in the Reddit Symphony Orchestra.

March 30, 2020 at 01:22 AM · I’m working more hours at home that I normally do in the office. My husband still has to report to his work as it an essential business. On weekends we have reverse our roles, my husband is now doing the chores I normally would (grocery shopping and cleaning), while I go outside and do the yard work and outside house maintenance.

I’m taking lessons via FaceTime now, but do so at just about any time of day and call it my “lunch break” since there is now no travel time involved. My quartet tried to play together via Zoom. It was a hilarious failure, so we worked on bowings instead and chatted for an hour.


March 30, 2020 at 01:25 AM · Working from home, working out, going for walks, playing ye olde fiddles in the garage, listening to radio -- music and news/talk. None of this is new. I started my own business almost 24 years ago. Social-distancing -- no big deal. I don't meet with my customers in person anyway and haven't for years. We interact by phone and email.

The only real difference: Gyms are closed. Thanks to YouTube, I can access more than enough home workout routines.

No chamber-playing for now, but I hadn't planned on doing any this season. So nothing lost.

Other shutdowns linked to the pandemic -- travel, restaurants, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas -- haven't affected me. I don't fly anymore. I don't eat out, except when necessary -- e.g., on a road trip. I don't go to the movies anymore. As for concerts and sporting events: I can't fit them into my schedule. Most of these events are in the evening, and I'm not a night person. By 8:30 PM, I'm already starting to fade. Thanks to the Internet and HD picture and sound, I bring plenty of performances right into my own home every day -- more in a day, in fact, than I could get in person in a month.

An apropos song for the evening: Elvis's vintage recording of Are You Lonesome Tonight?

March 30, 2020 at 09:38 AM · Something else!

Walking the dog first thing every morning.

Cooking interesting meals.

Elevenses newly instated.

Reading heaps.

And practicing - alot! Old music, lesson music, traditional session tunes... and updating the tunes database I've kept since 2005. It was up to 2000 tunes - but I haven't updated it seriously in a couple of years... so now I have time to do that.

Keep Safe everyone!

March 30, 2020 at 12:00 PM · Ah! Yes, elevenses. But in fact, I predict Americans will gain an average of 10-15 pounds through the pandemic. It's called stress-eating. Just when I need to be losing.

March 30, 2020 at 06:28 PM · I found a new way to cope yesterday, making masks for all my extended family! They are cloth, so they won't work for medical workers, but they are good for going to the grocery store.

Laurie's masks

The only thing is now I'm out of 1/4 inch elastic and interfacing! :( Looked into getting more but WOW is it gone!

March 30, 2020 at 06:56 PM · I've always worked from home, so there's nothing new there for me...lol. But kids are home now doing their school and everything else (violin, piano, karate) online.

Over the weekend, I returned a neighbor's favor by grilling some burgers and bbq'ing some chicken to share with them. We now have a network of 3 neighbors bbq'ing for each other. We hope to get other neighbors involved while doing social-distancing.

On another note, I have friends who are frontline nurses, and they tell me they're limited to using just one N95 mask a day. They have to disinfect the mask and use it again because of the mask shortage. The cloth masks that are being donated to them helps a lot as they use it as a cover on their N95 mask.

EDIT: Nice job, Laurie!

March 30, 2020 at 08:13 PM · cleaning the house and violin!

March 30, 2020 at 10:51 PM · I wondered if medical professionals were using the cloth ones to cover the other ones....Also what their ideal cloth mask is, when it is used that way. I've been making them from cotton, with backing. But maybe they would not want the backing (interfacing that makes it a little thicker and stiffer) if used in conjunction with the real mask.

March 30, 2020 at 11:32 PM · Hi Laurie, below is an article about how they make and use it. My friends use it the same way. I've never tried an N95 mask, but I was told, it's hard to breathe on those masks as it is.

Homemade mask covers

EDIT: For what it's worth, one of my friend told me she prefers to wear the cloth mask under her N95, because it's more comfortable for her to do it that way.

EDIT 2: Since we're in the subject of what we do in isolation, and most of us being home, I thought I'd share this link:

How to coronavirus-proof your home

March 31, 2020 at 07:45 AM · I am in the final stretch of my MM degree... I would have had my graduation ceremony this June, but unfortunately it is canceled because of Covid-19. For the time being, I’m writing lots of essays, transcribing and performing music from the 1200’s-1500’s for my Medieval/Renaissance music history class, watching conducting master class videos and starting a new concerto (Beethoven) and some new Ysäye and Paganini. I’m also pampering all of my plants with loads of attention now that I am stuck at home. : )

March 31, 2020 at 09:38 AM · Doing very little of anything, unfortunately. Shoulder injury. Cooking and keeping on top of dishes and laundry is about all I can manage. I've been in the same holding pattern for months, so my life has not changed much at all.

March 31, 2020 at 02:46 PM · I have participated in the Lockdown Orchestra, organised by Ben Frost, which was great fun. (Check it out on YouTube). As "" put, the Reddit Symphony Orchestra, which really is a lot of fun.

I already study from home, my degree is entirely online, so in a sense, that hasn't actually changed. OH is still working (essential). It seems our life has a similar hum too it, the only differences being no evening activities such as sports and orchestra.

I have toyed with starting a practice account on Instagram, just for the kicks.

March 31, 2020 at 04:31 PM · The younger players can use this time for longer, disciplined practice. Time to master those famous orchestral excerpts. Sometimes major soloists will take a sabbatical to refine their technique and prepare the next repertoire. For me, at age ___, I only play for my own amazement. My last faculty recital has been cancelled and there won't be any more auditions. So my playing has been rather random, whatever I want to do at the moment; Revisiting concertos that I will never perform, returning to etude books that I did not finish.

March 31, 2020 at 11:15 PM · Before the stay-at-home order, I was retired and my husband commuted to work every day. Now he's working from home and I feel like I have less time than usual. A "normal" day for me is taking a viola lesson via Zoom and taking a Zumba class via Zoom. I do practice but my daily activity schedule has been blown apart so I make sure I get some practice in by the end of each day. And no string quartet practice. Even if we stayed 6' apart, it still seems to violate the spirit of the law by entering someone else's house. When the weather gets nicer, we'll be able to practice outdoors.

April 1, 2020 at 01:56 PM · Laurie, I read that bungee cords are full of pieces of elastic suitable for mask attachment. Just cut the end off and there they are!

April 1, 2020 at 03:23 PM · My school went to distance learning and I have a lot going on. I have also posted videos of myself playing Bach on the balcony. I wanted to blog, but I'm so busy with teaching that I don't have time to do so. All my orchestra and chamber groups are cancelled and that's what I miss the most.

April 1, 2020 at 05:39 PM · Painting house, cleaning out garage, recording tunes for internet, about to start making a new fiddle. Orchestra, Bluegrass Band and pub sessions all cancelled.

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