Pandemic #2 in A minor

February 19, 2022, 12:13 AM · Who would have thought that we would be going on year #3 of the pandemic. In many ways it mimics Beethoven’s Op. 132, 3rd movement: Heiliger Dankgesang, a "Song of Thanksgiving to the Deity from a Convalescent in the Lydian Mode" which he supposedly wrote during a life-threatening illness. It is quite long at around 20 minutes and goes through phases of personal ordeals and of "feelings of new strength" and hope.

Does this theme sound familiar?

The beginning of 2020 had us all facing a life-threatening pandemic like the world hadn’t seen in a century. Many of us were placed under lockdown, trying to figure out how to live our lives remotely at a moment’s notice. Musicians in particular were faced with a technological challenge that couldn’t be overcome without making significant sacrifices. The technology to allow people to make music together - live - just wasn’t there yet. But being as adaptive as humans are, we found a way to make it work. Lessons transitioned from in-person to video FaceTime or Zoom, musical collaborations had many learning how record themselves over a click-track for someone else to blend all the individual recordings into an ensemble.

Some lucky few people went out of their way to self-isolate for weeks in advance in order to make possible real live face-to-face music with a select number of people. I was one of those people.

After having been effectively quarantined for months with no end in sight, and our beloved music camp cancelled, a few of us made a collective decision to undertake a severe self-quarantine in order to meet face-to-face and make music together in person. For one glorious week in the midst of a global pandemic, we made live in-person music together. Luckily, our efforts payed off, and we all went home physically healthy and mentally refreshed.

Eventually, the pandemic subsided long enough that our beloved music camp could be held the following summer, albeit with many pandemic-related precautions. Vaccinations were required, masks were worn for non-wind musicians during rehearsal sessions. It was both a glorious and somber camp: happy that we could make live music once again, and saddened for those who we had lost from the pandemic and other reasons.

After returning home, a 3rd and 4th pandemic wave hit. Several of my personal friends and family eventually became ill with the virus, but luckily did not require hospitalization. Our community lost a longtime member, Pauline Lerner, not from the corona virus, but from other long-term health issues.

Entering year #3 of the pandemic, my mental state started to take a downward turn. So being the musician that I am, I decided to take up piano to fill my time and keep me mentally challenged and engaged. I found a local piano teacher willing to take on an adult beginner, and started my journey learning how to read bass clef and fingerings that were all off by one and backwards. I began my piano journey with my beloved Bach, Minuet in G, and then dove right in with one of his son’s compositions "Solfeggietto" in C minor. Insanely difficult at tempo for a beginning piano student, but somewhat manageable at quarter=25 or so. I have low expectations of getting this piece up to tempo, however it is helping me with my viola music so far as being able to identify broken chords at a glance much better.

Hopefully, there will not be a pandemic year #4 that will force me to take on yet another instrument.

P.S. to my December 2020 blog. I had started studying the Beethoven quartets back then with the goal of studying them all. I have now worked my way all through the middle quartets and am now contemplating whether to begin the early or late quartets next. I'm thinking the early ones.


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