Re-creating the Artist in Times of Social Isolation

Article by Emer Kinsella

Life as we know it has changed rapidly over the last months.

By now, you’re either struggling to adapt to your new situation and ready for life to resume to normal or you’re becoming accustomed to new routines and a work from home setup. As artists, we know that emotions can interfere with our daily lives and keeping focused during these isolated times can add extra distractions as we deal with the difficulty of not being able to explore the world around us or being able to share our music with others.
Here are a few insights after two months of quarantine to shed some light on how to keep moving forward and stay positive throughout this current situation.

Re-creating the Artist in Times of Social Isolation

photo by: Emily Spieler
    1. Maintain a Sense of Community
      Every limitation presents opportunities for discovery. How can we come together while not being able to meet in real life or in the studio and while being separated in our homes?
      Luckily Facetime and video chat give us a great way to support each other, and explore one another’s music. Strengthen and expand your network, get to know someone on a new level. Ask for insights from others on your work, put together study/review clubs online. Be communicative and explore music together in new ways. We thrive on being able to feed off of one another, so being able to find ways to use our current resources with the ease of a videochat is a great way to be actively involved in each other’s lives. Beyond general catch-ups, you can seek advice and feedback from peers, dissect projects together by screen sharing projects over Zoom or with Facebook Messenger’s new screen sharing option. We can develop ourselves by hearing from an outsider’s perspective and this is a great way to have fun and learn/challenge one another to explore new aspects of music production. Try improvising over video chat with another musician on your instruments. Even if there’s a slight lag in sound, figuring out ways to make things work is what keeps your mind engaged and optimistic. Feedback is crucial, and keeps us moving forward in our work while engaging with others.
    2. Establish and Solidify Your Systems
      Try to gain an overview of how you go about your day. You might be exposing your flaws more than ever during quarantine. How can I be better? Each day review what you learned the previous day. If you feel like your brain wipes your short term memory clean every morning, review your newly established routines and try to keep to an order based on the time of day that works. Focus fully on the changes you want to make. Change up your activities and rotate them on a regular basis. 
    3. Discover Something New Every Day
      That can be anything down to the tiniest detail, such as figuring out how to optimize your work environment, trying out yoga or a new exercise routine. Figure out how to fix something in your house, solve problems you normally don’t have time to look into. Change up your space, go on daily walks and notice your neighborhood in greater detail. I noticed myself doing these things at the start of quarantine and after a few weeks it’s easy to go back to doing things as usual on autopilot but remember to allow yourself to try something different whenever you can. It’s surprising how a limited environment can make us notice the little things more and gives us the opportunity to be more resourceful with less options.
    4. Be Flexible With Future Plans
      What’s next? Touring and live concerts might not be an option for a while, but you can invest time now into the planning and preparation of future albums, branding plans, increasing your speed of writing, new ways of playing your instrument, learning a new one. Keeping things fresh helps your mind stay actively engaged and that might be one of the key things to mental survival. If we lose that sense of exploration, we shut down and have no interest in the life around us. So depending on your natural instincts, remind yourself to have fun, to notice details, to not ignore those things that you have a curiosity about, and just try them out. As hard as it might be right now, we should remind ourselves to not just go back to the way things were before, to discover tools that will help us now and later in other aspects of our lives and to gain greater insight into the way we want life to be for ourselves and for others.
Article by Emer Kinsella
image credit: Thomas Kinto
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