Rock IN: Music is Just the Tonic for These Times

5 min read

Rock IN illustration

As COVID-19 has forced us to slow down and put large parts of our lives on hold, the parts that remain seem to ring out more clearly and achingly. I feel more affection, in this strange moment, for the simpler pleasures in life: being outside, walking, sharing a wave and a greeting with a neighbor from a socially responsible distance. And music, of course. Sweet music.

If music is one of the things you value most in life, take heart. Because it really is made for these times. Actual hugs may be in short supply, but if you find music to be a means to emotional release, odds are you’ll find a virtual hug in the right kind of song.

Here are some ways to strike the perfect chord in this Stay IN life—and in the lives of those who provide the music we love:

Enjoy Live (Streamed) Performances

Around the world, musicians have been responding to restrictions imposed by COVID-19 by putting on livestreamed concerts on various platforms. NUVO is maintaining an updated list of livestreamed performances by Indy-area musicians. And here’s a frequently updated list of offerings from around the world.

While many of these shows are provided free in the spirit of community, most musicians rely on the funds generated by live, in-person performances—which are mostly not happening right now. So be sure to support the artists whose shows you’ve enjoyed by ordering music or merch from them online.

Connect Over the Music You Love

Last year, two friends of mine who live many states apart got a project going in which they each picked an album a week for the other to listen to and review. This is a great idea for the shelter-in-place era, especially for those of us who may have gotten into a bit of a musical rut. I could see this idea being expanded into larger groups—on the model of IndyHub’s virtual book club—with the members taking turns at picking an album for everyone to listen to and discuss.

And you can definitely be less formal about it. One of my favorite things as a parent has been sharing music with my kids—and vice versa. Last summer, I was listening to an old recording by indie eclectics The Jazz Butcher, the guitar sounds of which prompted my 13-year-old daughter to introduce me to the music of Rex Orange County. Am I glad she did! Here’s his live set for NPR’s Tiny Desk series of in-office performances.

Experience Virtual Togetherness

Speaking of NPR’s Tiny Desk, these online mini-concerts—each of them recorded behind Bob Boilen’s desk at All Songs Considered—deliver music video at its most intimate: players and audience up-close and personal, feeling the beat, finding harmony in divergence. It’s a poignant reminder of something we’ve temporarily lost. Hopeful, too, if we remind ourselves we’ll get back to it before too long.

While indie, folk, and world music are certainly well represented behind the Tiny Desk, big stars like Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers, and icons like Rosanne Cash and David Crosby have stopped by, too. There’s a little something for everyone.

And definitely check out OK Go’s delightful Tiny Desk in 223 takes, in which the band helps Boilen move his desk and belongings to NPR’s new offices, all while performing “All is Not Lost” from Of the Blue Colour of the Sky.

Sing (or Play) Something Sweet

Whether you’re an accomplished musician or a raw beginner, making music of your own is good for the soul. If you’re already pretty good, maybe sit outside on a nice afternoon and perform something nice for (or with) the neighbors. And if you’ve been meaning to put more time into practice, now’s the perfect time.

If you have kids, add music to your list of answers to the question, “What else can I do?” And if your kids haven’t had any lessons yet, don’t worry! Here’s a handy list of instruments your kids will sound good on immediately, even if they’ve never played an instrument before:

  • Harmonica
  • Woodblock

I’m kidding, of course; there’s probably no such list. But don’t let that stop your kids from exploring their musical gifts. There are plenty of online apps that make music easy, and some of them are being offered right now, for free, to make being home for extended periods easier.

Remember, too, if you’re in the market for an instrument, local music stores like Arthur’s Music Store and Indy String Theory are still open online or by phone for delivery. Because there is never a bad time to take up the guitar or ukulele.

Support Your Local Record Shop

Though the world’s biggest holiday for recorded music lovers—Record Store Day—is being pushed to June 20, those who survive on a regular infusion of vinyl and CDs can rest easy: local mainstays like Luna Music, Indy CD and Vinyl, and Square Cat Vinyl are still shipping online orders.

Stay IN Now. Go All Out Later.

There’s not much doubt that our local music and entertainment mainstays are going to take a hit until the threat of widespread contagion is past us. When it does pass, you can help those folks get back on their feet by supporting local shops and artists and by going to every show that interests you.

I know our gang of Well Done music-lovers will be jazzed to see you there.

The Well Done Marketing team has been staying in and working from home during the effort to flatten the coronavirus curve in Indiana. While we continue to be busy doing all we can for our clients during this crisis, many other projects have been postponed or put on hold for the time being. 

We’ve filled some of this surplus time by collecting our own ideas and suggestions for weathering this time of uncertainty, grief, economic hardship, and time away from friends and loved ones. It’s our own small way of showing how we’re #INthistogether.