An Interview with musicians Amy & Bob Buckingham, PACJam teachers
We checked in with our PacJam musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they were dealing with everything. What was their home quarantine experience like and how the pandemic impacted both their career and art?
How has your art or ability to make art or music been impacted by the pandemic?
Amy: The pandemic has given me time to improve my musical skills on most instruments that I play. I’ve been spending more time playing guitar and learning the lead part, so I’m teaching guitar and also playing some leads on the FaceBook songs we put up every day. The pandemic has also, for the most part, curtailed our music jams and gigs, and this has enabled me to spend more time at art I developed in the weeks just prior to quarantining. I took a week-long quilting class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in February and have been sewing almost every day since then. Before the class, I hadn’t sewn for almost 10 years. Now I’ve made 11 quilts, with many more to come! Suffice it to say that my art has not suffered, but has grown during the pandemic. Not having to go to work (I’m semi-retired) has become a huge blessing to my creativity.
How important has it been for you to be able to connect with other artists/musicians during this time?
Bob: The exchange of ideas is one of the great founts of knowledge. Being limited in our contact with other musicians at once provides a distancing that can get lost in the rush of events in busy times and giving new perspectives and opportunities for the integration of new thinking through introspection. Old answers may not address new questions. Forgotten ideas may once again be entertained and implemented or weighed for value. With limited contact, there is an eagerness for idea exchanges. It also makes you appreciate what was once taken for granted.
What has the availability of and/or participation in arts education meant to you during this time?
Amy: I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching adult and young students. We have done some outdoor individual and group lessons, which can be difficult with masks and social distancing, but it is nice to be able to see people in person! Winter months were not good for outdoor lessons, so we went to mostly individual online lessons in January. It has been a challenge to do online lessons, but we have mastered it, learning as we go. It has kept me motivated to play different tunes more and to think of different ways to play them.
What are your thoughts about the importance of art and music during trying times likewe have experienced during Covid-19?
Bob: Music is at the core of who I am. Practice and growth provide a place to be productive and find some modicum of satisfaction in a time of heavy compromise. With no gigs, we have taken to sharing daily videos online to an appreciative audience. It helps keep us in musical shape and looking for new material. It also lends a sense of purpose in the time of a nebulous future. What will the world look like on the other side? All we can do is be prepared to do our best.
Do you feel that being able to continue your art or music has helped you cope with the pandemic? If so, in what ways?
Amy: Being able to continue with my music and art has definitely enabled me to cope with the pandemic. It is something To DO. Anytime, and with little preparation. It can be totally stream of consciousness, as happens often in the arts. It is freeing, even though we are at home.