Quarantine Time Creativity

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This is without a doubt, a terrible time in history for the well being of all around the world. Covid-19 has taken a terrible toll with a staggering number of lives lost and terrible suffering by so many. It is also proving to be a time of extreme hardship for millions with many losing their jobs, salary and livelihood.

For the many musicians and artists around the world, physical distancing has put a sudden stop to any kind of performing or live shows. Artists and performers from young new talent to the most popular and famous have been unable to share their gifts in the usual way. Somehow despite all of this, there seems to be so music music happening just the same. On Facebook and Youtube you can see and hear all kinds of artists who somehow manage to reach out to audiences with performances pieced together using every kind of technology and music gear along with sheer perseverance.

I have been so moved by artists like Chick Corea and his creativity workshops presented from his home straight to YouTube. Wow, what an incredible gift to all those learning to play jazz. So many famous and talented musicians are sharing their gifts with the world despite these challenging times.

Artists are a resilient and tenacious lot. They are above average at weathering storms and enduring hardship. Isolating oneself from society is something we do on a regular basis as well. We are good at locking ourselves away and practicing our craft alone for hours and hours on end. We are perhaps a little more equipped at isolation than others.

I think this is a good time for all of us to try and be creative and share our gifts with the world. Whether by yourself or collaborating with friends or musical colleagues, grab your iPhone, tablet, favourite DAW or whatever is available to you big or small and make some great music. Record audio or a video of you performing some great jazz guitar and share it with anyone and everyone who will listen. Music heals and inspires. It’s something we can all contribute right now.

Recently by brother, also a guitarist, reached out to me to collaborate on one of his compositions. He had an idea to record and video one of his tunes and maybe find a few other musical friends to help out. He did most of the hard work organizing everything and editing the video. I helped out with the mix. We played some music, shared it with the world and hopefully made a few people a little happier as well.

Now I’ll share it with you. BTW, that’s me playing the 7 string classical guitar and my brother Ron playing electric. We are joined by two very talented Montreal musicians: Dave Watts on bass and Stephane Jose on drums.

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Another project I’ve been involved with is the Blue Mondays Jazz Orchestra. We are a Montreal based Big Band with a vocalist. Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have recorded 4 videos which you can find on YouTube. It was an opportunity to keep the music and the band going.

I’ve played on all of them and mixed all but the first. It’s been an interesting experience to piece together a big band chart with 16 members recording on their own in isolation. The end result is pretty amazing considering many used iPhones and tablets and did so in much less than perfect recording environments. (living rooms, basements…) Have a listen to “The Look of Love.”

Blue Mondays Jazz Orchestra – The Look of Love

I will once again encourage you to keep at the music and stay positive. We will get through this. Make some music and share it with the world. If you help to raise the spirits of even one person during this pandemic, then it’s worth it.

Author: Michael Berard

Michael Berard was a part-time music professor for over 25 years at Concordia University in Montreal Canada. There he taught jazz guitar, jazz arranging, jazz composition as well as other jazz related courses. He has worked over the years as a jazz musician playing jazz clubs, concerts and studio sessions. Michael has played on numerous recordings including 3 of his own: "It's Autumn," "Little Voices" and "Good News." Michael is also the author of "Jazz Guitar Elements," a comprehensive jazz guitar method and "Jazz Reading Elements," a new jazz sight reading book geared towards jazz guitarists.