Musicians in lockdown: ‘My piano kept me going’

Bolton-based photographer Marge Bradshaw asked musicians to share their personal life stories in Lockdown after the pandemic threatened thousands of jobs and hundreds of music venues across the UK threatened to close.

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Lindsay Garvin – piano tuner, piano teacher, solo pianist

“When the Covid-19 restrictions were first announced, I denied the gravity of the situation.

“Fortunately, my piano teaching and voice business grew during the pandemic.

“I think that’s because people have more free time to get creative.

“I am very grateful to have had wonderful, loyal students, all of whom were determined to adapt to Zoom lessons if necessary.

“It was heartwarming to see how much the students devoted themselves to learning the piano despite the many obstacles.

“In anticipation of a bottleneck at future weddings, I am currently practicing set lists as a solo pianist.

“I’m definitely looking forward to performing live again.”

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Simon Kojo Sackey – guitarist for Kojo

“It’s hard to stay motivated to play when you know you won’t be performing on the weekends.

“The finances were also tight.

“My family kept me going and I spent a lot of time looking after our youngest.

“On the positive side, I’ve started recording songs again, which I haven’t done in a while.”

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Jo Byrne – guitarist, pianist, singer for Phantom Voices

“My whole lifestyle has changed as a result of Covid-19.

“I’ve played several times a week for the past 15 years and have oriented my life around them.

“Being so busy not having anything at all was a massive shock.

“While I enjoy writing and recording, I’m mostly a live performer and that’s what I enjoy doing.

“My piano kept me going.

“Whenever I’m frustrated or full, I can sit and play for a few hours and it’s like meditation to me.”

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Rick Hughes – drum teacher

“As a professional musician, the hardest part is that it’s a living and you have no idea if it will ever return.

“An entire industry in a state of suspended animation with no end in sight.

“I definitely won’t take anything for granted anymore, that’s for sure.

“My fantastic family have been great and have kept me from losing my mind on a few occasions.

“Mind you, me and my wife were getting close to the insanity of homeschooling our eight year old!”

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Geraldine Green – clarinet, pipe, bodhran, piano and cello

“Before Covid-19 hit, I played with the Bolton Symphony Orchestra, the Bolton Chamber Orchestra, and for my local church music group.

“I’ve also played folk gigs, shows and many, many concerts, both professionally and with amateur groups.

“I’m also a teacher. Before the coronavirus, I had 22 students – now I have 10!

“The hardest part is definitely losing the interaction in my orchestras. It was both my work and my social life – everything is gone now.

“I miss the spiritual feeling of music, our dear audience, concerts, rehearsals, friendships and camaraderie.

“I mourn the loss terribly.”

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Tommy Govan – guitarist for The Govans

“The hospitality closure resulted in all of my bookings being canceled.

“I set up Tommy’s street parties where I put a pavilion and all of my gear on a street and people sat on their drives and listened to my performances and danced.

“It was a lot of fun and it was nice to see people happy again with a smile on their faces.”

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Rob Young – guitarist, banjoist for The Two Hats Blues Band and Rambling Rob Young

“I am really missed [gigs].

“The Two Hats Blues Band was semi-professional and performed around 150 live performances every weekend on the street with a van full of equipment in 2019.

“Suddenly it was taken away.

“It is a very difficult time for musicians right now, and indeed for anyone who works in the performing arts.

“A world without live music feels like living in a house with no windows.

“Live music is uplifting, nutritious, and social.

“I really miss it.”

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Josh Jenkinson – lead guitarist for The Deadbeats

“Like all musicians, I miss the thrill of being on stage.

“I was as busy as possible including recording and composing and building a guitar during the lockdown.

“In the end, you don’t make sense and you really miss doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

“I can’t wait to giggle again.”

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Gaz Jenkins – singer, Billy Joel Tribute UK

“I got to play a few gigs here and there, my last one in October.

“People usually swing off the rafters, but due to the ban on the audience from dancing and singing, it was a pretty muted affair.

“I really enjoyed the break during the first lockdown, if I’m being completely honest.

“I’ve been playing professionally for over 20 years. I’ve missed so many things – holidays, family events, social gatherings – and a lot of my friendships and relationships have suffered, so it was nice to stop and take stock.”

“That being said, I realized that I really don’t know how to do anything else, and that was a little unsettling.

“I’ve applied for various jobs over the past few months, but haven’t been lucky.

“I need the scene to come back as soon as possible so that I can restore my self-esteem.”

Photos and interviews by Marge Bradshaw.


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