Can a Pandemic deter Musical Creativity and Innovation?
Written by: Michael Gaspar | SRMC Music Management Subject Head
The current pandemic as we all know as Covid-19 has caused many musicians and performing artists to rethink their standing in the music industry. Loss of income due to entertainment venues and concert halls being shut down has impacted the hiring and engagement of professionals who very much depend on performing as a source of income. The months from April to July when Singapore entered into our version of a lockdown (Circuit Breaker) posed many reflection questions for performers to rethink and relook at how they can keep their creativity and innovative spirit raging amidst the challenges that surround them, that unfortunately includes recent allusions to a performer as being “unessential”.
Although I have a full-time music lecturing and academic job, I consider myself a musician by heart and passion. I have been performing in the entertainment industry, but for the last 2 decades I have fashioned myself as an educator-musician, which very much defines me as a general musician having tasted and tried almost all aspects of the music industry in Singapore. My passion and affection for the sudden pandemic comes out of a heart for fellow musician friends, colleagues, and my team of guitar teachers that I still mentor and manage.
My current academic role coupled with a music entrepreneurial mindset has helped my team of instructors and the music industry at large having given various music career talks at Singapore Raffles Music College and the most recent one at MOE’s Music CCA leaders e-camp. The one thing that I have encouraged both current and future music professionals is to work towards digitalizing your art form. At this juncture, my edutainment (educational entertainment) art group “Hawaii 5-0” is in the midst of producing a digitalized version of our live assembly programme. Over the past 5 years we have performed at some 100 schools having exposed and enriched students to the beauty of Hawaiian music.
I have also advised fellow club musician friends of mine to consider having their set performances live-streamed from their home or studio to clubs and entertainment venues. These “near to live” performance experiences for club diners and patrons should be purchased with a fee. There can be live interactions like taking music requests, singing a birthday song, and live casual chats with diners and customers. This is really something any club musician can think about bringing to fruition to keep their flow of income amidst the current pandemic.
On the educational side, there is funding available for digitalized programmes for use in both the arts and education industry. The situation is not as bleak as it started out to be. The key is to think out of the box, to be creative, to be innovative, and to think positively. I personally survived the 2003 SARs pandemic when I was not able to teach at MOE schools and perform for almost 6 months. Music has experienced and survived greater pandemics since historical times, and if music is a gift from a creative and higher being, I do not see how music will be allowed to perish.