MUSIC IN THE TIME OF CORONA

by: Pravina Manoharan

The scene is ever so familiar, a deadly virus sweeps through a quiet town and suddenly similar cases are reported in other countries and there are now fears of a global pandemic. International borders are shut down to control the spread of the deadly virus; the army is brought in to maintain order as countries worldwide scramble to determine the cause of the deaths and find a vaccine. Now in 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic, we are literally reliving scenes of a Hollywood movie, as we see our fears and anxiety play out on screen. Nationwide lockdowns, movement control orders, and social distancing have forced many communities to remain home. While some have the privilege to continue working from home, hundreds and thousands of others have lost their income literally overnight. It comes as no surprise that there have been reports of an increase in cases concerning mental health-related issues.

Amidst these challenging times, the one saving grace that has helped many lift spirits, alleviate anxiety and create some form of communal solidarity is music. Today, music has become the emotional glue helping many individuals and communities to find solace and maintain a sense of normalcy. Communities around the world have found refuge in music as they sing and dance their way through the lockdown. This act of solidarity has been documented worldwide with numerous videos surfacing on social media displaying communities singing and playing instruments from their apartments. The first videos to emerge were of residents in apartments in Wuhan singing patriotic songs from their windows. We then saw Italians singing, playing instruments, clanging pots and pans and interacting with neighbors from the confines of their balconies and people in San Francisco singing “This Land is Our Land” at their community plaza to generate a sense of shared fellowship.

Professional musicians currently in quarantine are also sharing their music with the world from their homes. Musicians like Coldplay, John Legend, Keith Urban, Diplo and even Andrew Lloyd Webber are among some of the many artists who have taken their music and concerts to the virtual realm in an attempt to remain connected with fans and family and to let them know that we are all in this together. Chris Martin from Coldplay took to the band’s official Instagram and invited fans to tune in and chat with him while John Legend was taking requests from fans in a live stream from his Instagram account. Nightclubs have literally gone online with DJs hosting virtual concerts and having fans tune into their channel and enjoy a glass of wine from the safe confines of their home. Such forms of communal solidarity have a profound ability to provide a sense of comfort and reassure people that although miles away, we are not in this alone. The ability to remain connected with people albeit virtually is a tremendous morale boost particularly for people living by themselves with no human interaction. So as we brave these uncertainties, “Let The Music Heal Your Soul”.

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