Earlier than Covid-19, hundreds of individuals throughout Scotland would spend their spare time performing with newbie music teams.
Like so many different actions, that was dropped at a halt by the pandemic in March.
With a restricted Proms happening and Scottish Opera and the RSNO performing once more, skilled musicians are actually taking small steps ahead. However what has life been like for the newbie performers?
The brass band
“You’re as near the folks at band as you’re to your loved ones,” says Charlie Farren.
“To not be with them, it’s extremely tough.”
Charlie is the chairman of Whitburn Band, certainly one of Scotland’s high brass bands. This yr marks its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary.
Covid restrictions means Charlie shouldn’t be taking part in with bands for the primary time in 40 years.
“We had a large schedule deliberate for your complete yr. In a single day, it was all gone and it price the band hundreds of kilos.”
An estimated 2,500 folks play with brass bands in Scotland. I’m certainly one of them, as a member of the Whitburn Band.
Lately, we’ve carried out on the Edinburgh Worldwide Pageant and Celtic Connections and hundreds of thousands have heard the band play the nationwide anthems at Scotland’s rugby internationals.
With all occasions cancelled, Whitburn has turned to digital performances. These have attracted greater than 127,000 views and raised greater than £1,200 for West Lothian Foodbank.
The band has additionally acquired assist by way of a grant from the Scottish authorities, a part of a package deal of economic help obtainable to the inventive sector.
Present restrictions for non-professional musicians imply that – with one particular exception – a most of six folks from two households can play or sing collectively outdoor.
The challenges going through bigger ensembles is stark.
Whitburn has 30 taking part in members from nearly as many households. All of the rehearsals and many of the engagements happen indoors.
One other barrier is a priority that taking part in a wind instrument or singing might unfold Covid-19 by way of “aerosol and droplets” if a performer was near others – a difficulty which has severely disrupted some music instructing in colleges.
Charlie stated he would love Scotland’s brass bands to be handled the identical as professionals – who can play indoors and outdoor with mitigating measures.
He fears that if issues do not change within the close to future, some is not going to emerge from Covid.
The folks band
Folky MacFolk Face was shaped in 2016 after an impromptu efficiency at Jackie Mullen’s house. Since then, the band has carried out at Celtic Connections and on STV.
The four-piece group did meet up and play collectively when lockdown eased as they arrive from three households and do not must sing.
However with the restrictions on households returning, the band are again to ready once more.
2020 was purported to be a monumental yr for the group – the primary time Folky would have performed overseas, in Galicia and China.
“Lockdown was an actual disappointment,” stated Jackie. “However we determined we might try to make lemonade out the lemons and we needed to do one thing.”
Their on-line model of Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys was shared by Mike Scott himself, giving Folky many new followers.
Jackie added: “Lockdown gave us a possibility to do one thing that we’d not have finished.
“It has had its positives. It has been difficult, actually for musicians, however we’ve tried to make the most effective out of it.”
The band is now keenly awaiting the time when restrictions on assembly different households might be eased as soon as extra.
The Concord Choir in Edinburgh began out in 2016 as a part of a College of Edinburgh venture to check the consequences of choirs on psychological well being.
Since then, it has appeared on the Edinburgh Pageant Fringe, charity fundraisers and in a BBC documentary about Gail Porter and the TV presenter’s personal psychological well being.
Choirs are a part of communities throughout Scotland. They normally appeal to a big membership, with some having greater than 70 singers.
The Concord Choir has about 40 singers.
Musical director Ben Jones says: “I feel the choir has helped folks enormously. It has gone from being one thing that they had by no means thought-about doing to one thing that’s the centrepiece of their lives.
“It offers them focus. It offers them companionship.”
The tip of face-to-face rehearsals got here rapidly because the virus unfold within the spring.
At one session there was hand sanitiser. By the subsequent, lockdown.
“We discovered what we might do, and could not do, and we began to give attention to what we might do collectively,” sys Ben.
Concord proceed to rehearse collectively, over Zoom, each Monday evening and have additionally launched some on-line performances.
Like different massive ensembles, they face a probably lengthy wait earlier than a return.
Ben accepts that they must “grin and bear it” as Scotland offers with this unprecedented problem – however he’s hopeful.
“Choirs have been going for millennia, and there have been pandemics earlier than,” he stated.
“We’ll get by way of this.”
Gentle on the finish of the tunnel?
Within the final week, the Scottish authorities up to date steering for performers that was initially revealed on 24 August.
In it, they state non-professional musicians taking part in an outside exercise organised by a enterprise or charity can play or sing with mitigating measures in place, with the organisers answerable for protecting everybody secure.
The federal government clarified to BBC Information that the musicians wouldn’t have to stick to the two-household rule if this organised outside exercise was a socially distanced seated occasion, adopted Covid steering on occasions and performing arts, and did not happen in hospitality areas reminiscent of beer gardens.
Ensembles – each massive and small – might subsequently carry out outdoor on this very particular context.
With instances rising, and additional lockdown restrictions just lately imposed throughout Scotland, it stays to be seen if this outside occasion exception will make any sensible distinction for almost all of non-professional musicians at this stage.
It additionally stays to be seen if it means – even in a restricted capability – that the present can go on for some.