With sickness in pursuit, and home becoming the orbit, social media are coming into their own. We all used them all along, of course, sometimes quite a bit! But now at a greater distance their capacity for keeping people connected is really valuable, and, I think, to their credit.
Just over a week ago it was St Patrick’s Day, so I got my daughter to aim the mobile phone at me while I played a couple of choruses of ‘Danny Boy’. It’s a tune of which I’m fond, and there’s some Irish blood a couple of dozen generations back in my mum’s family, so it felt good to get it out of the mothballs and give it a run. I posted it on Facebook, which is my main social hang, and the response was simply marvellous. I was so grateful that people listened – plays of the video have now exceeded 650, which mightn’t be very many if you’re a Spotify sensation, but certainly impresses me – and people shared it so that even folks I’ve never met heard it and responded with likes or comments.
So I thought, look how people need music in these precarious times. Look how lovingly and generously they respond to it, when it is offered to them. Look how sustaining people can find even a little tune played on my piano, by me.
And this led me to the idea of recording a piece each day, and making them globally accessible, and so that’s what I’ve done since the 17th.
Others are doing similar things: Yo Yo Ma is getting great traction with his #songsforcomfort and Chris Thile has taken to recording pieces under the banner #livefromhome. I’ve started using these tags too, in case it draws anyone else in and they find something they like.
Generally I’ve played original pieces, but Gershwin’s ‘How long has this been going on?’, an improvisation on a hymn along the lines of my Tell you later records, and Sam Anning’s ‘Sweethearts’ – responding to a challenge he issued to colleagues to give their own versions – have been included as well.
I’m actually finding it really enjoyable, and I’m so pleased that people are finding so much in it to relate to. We need music – never more obviously than at times like these – and it’s a privilege to be generating some therapeutic sounds.
If you read this and you’re not actually a Facebook friend but you’d like to hear the pieces, you can. Go here.