Music in the time of COVID-19

16 September 2020 by Dominic Holmes

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I posted a blog entry. A lot, but also not a lot, has happened since my last update back in October 2019, and in these uncertain times only one thing is practically guaranteed: things will never quite be the same.

It’s hard to believe that the last gig I did in public was nearly 7 months ago on Wednesday the 26th February at the Bustard Inn with the Tony Giles All Stars band. It’s hard to accept that I have lost all the gigs I had booked in, along with any number of surprise last minute engagements or dep work. It’s been hard, but it’s the reality that every musician faced over the last 6 months. It would be easy to look at everything I, and the music industry collectively, has lost recently. However, there have been some unexpected gains from the experience.

Firstly, I (along with every other music tutor) have had to adapt my teaching style to online lessons. This wasn’t easy at first, as a lot of what I do involves getting the student to play, count or clap along with me. As time went by, and I became more experienced delivering lessons online, I started to develop a more effective approach to delivering my lessons. In fact, I’ve taken some of the changes I made for online lessons and adapted them for my face-to-face lessons that I have just started doing over the last couple of weeks. Even though it wasn’t easy, the sudden shift to online lessons made me really look at how I teach in a way that I hadn’t done before, and I believe this has made me a more effective teacher. Also, I am far more grateful for face-to-face teaching now than I ever would have been before!

The abundance of time over lockdown also gave me the opportunity to work on my craft. I had a long look at my bass technique, made some changes to how I approach playing the instrument and began to fully appreciate how one’s state of mind can affect one’s performance. I started to meditate on a regular basis again, which has had a much bigger influence on my playing than I initially would’ve expected. Through mindfulness I have become far more relaxed whilst playing, which has then resulted in my being able to perform licks, riffs and pieces that I’ve spent (sometimes literally) years working on but got stuck at a certain point at. There was also a period of 2 weeks when I only meditated and didn’t do a lot of practise, and yet when I picked up my instrument again I was able to play more comfortably and fluidly than I had done when I last played! It’s really highlighted how much I had been getting in my own way when it came to performance, and how much I’d been letting the negative experiences of my past interfere with my present. Even if I haven’t improved, I feel better about my playing and more at peace with where I am as a musician.

Lastly, I’ve used the time to do some composition. I have wanted to start my own band with my own material for a while now, and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to get all the ground work done. The project’s name is ‘The Blind Observer’ and the music would be best described as jazz, funk and latin fusion. It features myself on electric bass, Ashley Squires on guitar and Andrew Wood on drums. I have 6 tunes completed and we’re in the process of rehearsing them with a view to recording very soon. All the tunes are dedicated to someone, either an individual or a couple, and the album will be called ‘Songs for Someone’. I will write another blog update when we’ve recorded some material. Watch this space!

Stay safe.

Dominic

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