Tuesday, March 17, 2020



by Jamie Lattyon March 16, 2020

Scanning through my Instagram feed late on Wednesday evening, I stumbled upon a simple quote; 'While times may feel uncertain, the joy and solace of music and making music can always bring us together." It became clear why music is so important right now.

The quote came courtesy of the NAMM Foundation's - the charitable arm of the National Association of Music Merchants, via their latest Instagram post.

We certainly live in strange times. This week was definitely up there as one of the strangest I can remember, and so I would like to start by saying that on behalf of everyone at Deering, our hearts and prayers go out to all of those affected, both directly and indirectly.

We understand that it is hard not to be concerned. I am sure many of you, like me are seriously beginning to question if this is the Twilight Zone. But it is going to be okay. Say it with me. It is going to be okay. We will absolutely get through this and if you are so inclined, playing your banjo can help.

As I watch the events unfold, I am reminded of how significant a role playing a musical instrument has been in my life. I have played an instrument of some kind since the age of 10. Without a doubt, having this outlet has helped me tremendously in simply being able to cope in difficult, sometimes unbearable times.

And I am not alone. In a survey from 2017 by data analytics firm YouGov revealed that "71 percent [of respondents] said they agreed that music had helped them through a difficult time in their lives." [Source]

As the media reports doomsday on the hour, every hour, a few glimmers of musical hope have begun to emerge. Italy has been in the news this last few weeks after becoming the first European country to order a complete shutdown of the country. Stores, restaurants all closed and residents only allowed to leave their homes to get basic items and medical supplies.

It wasn't long before videos began to emerge on social media of defiant Italians singing from their balconies. No people in shot. Only their somber voices serenading one another through song as the night rolled in.

Turns out, these videos are the coordinated result of Italy's #flashmobsonoro, which is encouraging people to take to their windows and balconies and make music together. Just click on the #flashmobsonoro hashtag to see more amazing videos like this one.

valemercurii @valemercurii

People of my hometown #Siena sing a popular song from their houses along an empty street to warm their hearts during the Italian #Covid_19 #lockdown.#coronavirusitalia #COVID19 #coronavirus

And as the last few days have come, more videos have surfaced. Only now, they have energy. They have that famous Italian passion and most importantly, they have musical instruments. Like a quarantined neighborhood jam session. Not only are these players using their instruments for themselves, but they are entertaining the masses.

So does music really help in bad times? I think we can all recount a time where a song or a musical memory bought us comfort. For sure, doctors and clinicians began to realize the healing power of music when observing the effects of travelling music groups who would frequently visit veterans during both world wars.

The idea has even evolved into something called Music Therapy which Goodtherapy.org describes as "a type of expressive arts therapy that uses music to improve and maintain the physical, psychological, and social well-being of individuals—involves a broad range of activities, such as listening to music, singing, and playing a musical instrument.

As musicians of all levels of experience and ability, we possess a unique ability to play and communicate through music. We possess something truly powerful that has the ability to not only help us through bad times, but others around us, too. The power of playing music, I believe, is a remarkable healer. So let's have some fun doing what we do and play some music! Play your banjo. Jam with fellow musician friends and neighbors from across the street. Let your music be heard by your non-musician neighbors, as they will surely enjoy the respite from the fear and the unknown and take solace in something "normal". We have the power to uplift peoples minds and spirits.

Nobody really knows how this will all play out, but I urge you to turn off the TV, put down your phone and keep your banjo (or guitar, or mandolin or fiddle) close by and play it. Let your soul and your mind become invigorated, if only for a short time, and remember how important music is.

Do it now. Do it often. Play music.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones and together we will overcome current events. Let's play our part to being soundtrack of hope.

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