If you’re reading this, it’s likely that both governmental mandates and a sense of social responsibility mean you’re spending more time at home than usual. (If you’re an essential worker, thank you for your service!). This massive collective shift to life indoors has left many anxious and looking to fill their time with material other than the news, but it can be hard to make a decision when there is seemingly both an infinite number of things to do and also… nothing to do. To help you pass the time, here are a few suggestions:
1. Watch a livestream or recorded concert!
Musicians, perhaps unsurprisingly, still want to play for people, and many are livestreaming little shows or recording videos or going live on Instagram to say hello to fans. It’s become so common that you’ve probably already come across something relevant to you. But in the case that’s not true, here are some great options:
This full concert video of the Vulfpeck show at Madison Square Garden is one of the tightest, most upbeat, and joy-filled taped shows we have ever seen. If you haven’t yet had the chance to take it in, we strongly suggest you do.
If Vulfpeck isn’t your flavour, the Montreux Jazz Festival just released 50+ of their taped shows for audiences to stream for free. This includes some incredible gigs from their archives – including Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye – the list goes on. You can check out the full roster here.
If you’re a local jazz fan, you’ll no doubt know beloved Vancouver player Tony Wilson – he’s started recording himself in short bursts and putting them out on a YouTube channel. These short & sweet videos are easier to digest than a whole set, and may help you feel connected to the scene here while staying inside.
Last (but not least), there’s the Live From Our Living Rooms Festival, which is already in full swing. It’s a digital jazz festival that’s taking place from April 1-7, and funds raised from shows will go directly to NY musicians in need. The incredibly stacked lineup features Christian McBride, Chick Corea, Margaret Glaspy & Julian Lage, Becca Stevens, Antonio Sanchez, and many more. It even includes a late-morning Children’s Program! You can find the full schedule & links to the streams here.
2. Learn something new or sharpen an old skill!
The VSO School of Music is running an online “History of Jazz” course, taught by local bass phenom Jodi Proznick. It’s 4 weeks long and will run much like a university course – why not take this time to brush up on your jazz knowledge? By the time the pandemic is over, you’ll have a toolkit of hot jazz facts to share with your friends. You can also try yelling jazz facts to ensure people stay 6 feet away from you at all times.
Now is also great time to break out an old instrument if you’re out of practice, or learn a new one if you’ve always wanted to but haven’t yet had the time. If you’re looking to make music of your own but don’t quite have the chops necessary yet, you could take this 10-week Ukulele foundations course from Vancouver-based Ruby’s Ukes or get some piano lessons from Juno nominee John Stetch!
3. Do things with friends!
Set up a digital watch party with a friend or loved one by watching the same concert (or show or movie) at the same time and messaging each other or video chatting. It’s not the same as physically taking in a show together, but it’s the closest we can get for now! Be sure to reach out regularly to people in your life who you would normally see in person, and don’t forget to talk about something other than COVID-19. It’s naturally the thing that’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but talking about other things – music! books! TV! how hard it is to make good bread! – will help maintain some sense of normalcy.
No matter how you’re spending your time, we hope you’re managing all right and that you’re taking precautions to be safe with everything you do. Right now, if you’re not an essential worker, all it takes to be a hero is to stay home and hang out on your couch – we believe in you.