Does isolation keep creative juices flowing and how do we do it?

The City of Melbourne announced $2 million worth of grants for arts organisations to help artists develop new work, present their work or performances digitally and provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants will come as a welcome relief to artists and performers who have been cooped up at home and income slashed. We hope that more state governments do the same for artists in other states across the country.

It seems that many artists who have been self-isolating have found other creative ways of keeping themselves occupied. So it begs the question – is isolation conducive for creative juices?

After all, songwriters and musicians write music based on their personal experiences and the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation that people will remember for a long time to come.

Here are some self-isolation ideas to help keep your mind active and your creative juices flowing like US singer-songwriter Ben Folds, who is currently in self-isolation in Australia as he was here on a tour. Missing his opportunity to safely return home, he has turned his self-contained apartment into a makeshift recording studio. If you have the capacity, you could do the same.

Does isolation actually make us more productive and creative?

Well, yes and no. Some people definitely thrive in an isolated environment. But it’s one thing to be isolated for a period of time and not knowing when you can leave isolation as many of us are experiencing now around the world. Many creative minds – like Albert Einstein, Mozart, Picasso or Steve Jobs – are perceived as lone geniuses.

However, many creative geniuses have help and no one can do everything alone. Life is about collaboration and isolating yourself from the world won’t spread any worthwhile ideas. Of course many ideas come from isolation. It plays an important part in a much larger picture of how ideas go from something on paper to something you can hear, feel or touch.

While it’s nice to have some alone time, remember as you while away your days indoors to check in with other people, whether it’s your music producer, band members or just your neighbour who you like to jam with, keep in touch with them and try to play together in some online capacity.

Creative ideas to get you through the pandemic

Learn a new instrument

You may already plan an instrument but have always been dying to learn the guitar, cello, ukulele, etc. Now’s the time! Imagine when you get to jam again with your band and you can say ‘Hey, I play the flute now!’

Fender is helping musicians in isolation by offering three months of online guitar, bass or ukulele lessons to 100,000 players. Staying in self-quarantine will take its toll so why not make some noise to get you through it.

Get a music lesson online from an expert

A number of famous musicians, singers and songwriters are offering music lessons online. You could get a lesson from your favourite singer-songwriter! And while you can’t see them in person it’s still something to tell your mates about.

Music producer, audio engineer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Schuberth has worked with the likes of Ben Folds, Josh Pyke and Alex Lloyd. He’s got over 20 years of industry knowledge and has won ARIA awards. If you’re a drummer, you should hit him up for some online lessons. It’s also a great way to support other people in the music industry.

Watch a live-streamed classical concert

Especially if you never listen to classical music or haven’t since you did your AMEB exam 10 years ago. There’s no excuse either with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra streaming their concerts live and many others around the world too. Check out the Metropolitan Opera House for their nightly free streaming too if you like a bit of Wagner or Verdi.

Many rock and pop artists get inspiration from classical music so chuck on your headphones and stream some live Beethoven.

Read a book about your favourite composer, artist or band

You’ve got no excuse at all not to read a book if you’re stuck indoors every day. Now think back to a time before coronavirus and think about a band or an artist you were really excited to see (maybe you still have a ticket sitting in your drawer that you look at fondly *sigh*).

Perhaps it was a comedian or even an artist’s exhibition that was coming up later this year. Music is only one part of what makes up the broader scope of the arts, so take inspiration from people who do different things to you. Look online and see what books come up under biographies or autobiographies. Places like Readings are doing home delivery orders and it’s great to support local bookstores as well who are doing it tough. You never know when inspiration from reading a book might strike and you find yourself writing a new song!

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