Florence Dewhurst

Week 2

I’m writing today at the end of an extraordinarily relaxing mid-term break. My daily routine has consisted of late nights and lie-ins, with bouts of doing absolutely nothing in-between.

The hassle-free mid-term has been welcomed, even though I haven’t been able to see many people. I have gone for walks with a few of my friends, but other than that, watching TV for days on end suited me just fine. Music has also played an important part in keeping me entertained.

Of course, the loss of the Cork Jazz Festival was greatly felt in our house. The mid-term break would usually be spent running around a bustling Cork city, trying to catch different gigs, under the direction of my mother clutching her much-studied jazz programme.

Mam and I would enjoy the music and atmosphere, Dad would pretend to enjoy the music and atmosphere, and my two brothers would be let off to go to the shops, because as far as they’re concerned, the Jazz Festival is mind-numbingly boring.

It was probably one of my favourite parts of last year – my legs, however, don’t miss it at all, because Mam has a nasty habit of bringing us to gigs that involve a lot of standing in crowded venues, where chairs aren’t regarded as a necessity at all.

It is partially due to this exposure to live music that the bass guitar caught my eye over the years.

Over quarantine, I’ve picked up the 70-year-old bass that belonged to my Granny, although I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

And despite my complete lack of knowledge bass-wise, I’ve still decided to form a band with two of my friends, where I have to play the bass AND sing. This was probably an overly-ambitious move on my part, but with little to do over quarantine, I figured I’d manage.

I not only picked up the bass, but I also tried the guitar and song-writing, as well as continuing with the piano. I need to be in the mood for song-writing though, which I’ve discovered only comes around once every five months for about 10-minutes!

It usually consists of me running upstairs to get a notebook, by which time the moment of inspiration is over. I enjoy playing the guitar, but I haven’t bothered to learn anything remotely difficult, which usually brings my practice sessions to a halt.

Music has become a defining part of lockdown for my whole family. We’ve all been discovering new artists and music throughout the first and second lockdown.

If you walk into our house, it wouldn’t be unusual to find my Mam playing the saxophone (or God forbid, the flute!), my 14-year-old brother playing the piano, my 12-year-old brother listening to Queen in the kitchen, and me in my room, guiltily blaring One Direction over the speakers for the millionth time.

For many, music evokes a distinct memory of a time and place. Hamilton (the musical) became the soundtrack to our optimistic July. I’ve been wanting to go to this musical in the West End for over a year and happily it was released on a popular streaming platform in July. As I won’t be going to London any time soon, my parents caved in and subscribed for one whole month.

I had already memorised the whole show backwards, so the rest of my family were quick to become familiar with the songs, and now that musical has become a reminder of the hopeful Summer.

I’ve definitely been using much of my new found free time to practice, create and listen to music, in anticipation of the return of live performance opportunities.

Our band was just getting used to playing together when the restrictions kicked in which has meant we’ve had to practice our parts remotely.

Yet our frustrations are insignificant compared to the professional gigging musicians whose livelihoods have been truly compromised by the lockdown.

Music and musicians have provided us with a soundtrack through these strange times, and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that we are all looking forward to the return of live performances in the future.

Florence Dewhurst is a Transition Year student at Loreto School, Fermoy