In lockdown, we play duets at the end of our driveway

In lockdown, we play duets at the end of our driveway


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2020

Our occasional diarist Anthea Kreston reflects on her new life, indoors in Oregon.

So here we all are. Inside. At least for another 6 weeks – that’s what the public schools have said. I don’t believe it for a second. I think we are here, in this crazy swirl of paranoid unknown, until September. Concerts and tours and recordings cancelled. Those of us lucky enough to have university or contracted jobs will feel an uneasy comfort, while the vast majority will be spending our time looking at our bank balances, rethinking our budgets, and becoming more adept at digital communication.

I am lucky that I have enough private students to be comfortable – and it’s been interesting to have weekly contact with students in China, Germany, and now – a small group of new students from NYC who are home-bound. Some are just entering the first stages, some are on lock-down, and some have already passed the most crucial times and are bracing for a second wave.

Kevin, my Chinese student who was in lock-down, is now having online school – and he can finally go outside again – he has a group of friends from his apartment block and they play commando games in the courtyard, big winter coat is replaced now by a lighter fleece. His father has been a great resource – well before anyone in the States was even worried, he sent me lists of supplies to get. He said – “get ready – it’s coming there….” We are one of the few families with hand sanitizer, wipes and masks – our shopping was done before shelves were cleared of toilet paper and cough medicine. He has continued to monitor our well-being as a family, and insisted on sending an express package to us with important health items. It’s a comfort to have that resource – to have advice from someone who has been through it.

And so we are all grudgingly getting used to new feelings and skills – Facebook, that double-edged sword, has been a comfort of sorts, seeing people‘s new home Skype setups, feeling even that small bit of togetherness.

We learn to home-school, set up our pantries, lock our doors, and those long-forgotten bread machines are taken out and dusted. Honey-wheat? You betcha. Did did and done. We were fortunate to be able to borrow a guinea pig named Suzie before everything was shut down – it’s been an amazing distraction.


Our parents are in the at-risk group – one set in North Vancouver, one in rural Idaho, and one downtown Chicago. It’s funny to get screen shots of their preparations – one has stocked an outside freezer with ice cream, the other making Coq au vin. They seem somehow unaware – not quite realizing their compromised situations – I wonder where their information and advice is coming from, and I wish there were just blanket rules set down, like in other countries, instead of a patchwork of advice, denials, and suggestions.

But we yearn for each other. Classical music, at its core, is a social occupation. We work alone in order to share, and we go to watch or listen so we can be inspired, lose ourselves, connect on a deeper level than anything else in our lives.

And so – my 10 year old daughter and I go to the end of our driveway and play violin and cello duets every day at 12:00. And I have contacted the local retirement home – we are planning some concerts on their lawn so residents can watch from their balconies or windows. It’s for us as much as them. And I am volunteering for our Mutual Aid Society – baking meals and delivering groceries.

Last night, I woke up at 2 (insomnia has really come in full-force). An idea – what about getting a flat-bed truck, a couple of speakers and a mic, and having a Flat-Bed Concert Series. 5 minute solo concerts on different blocks in the community – violin, cello, guitar, voice, electric piano. Just come to your window or door.

Of course we will get through this. Some of us better than others. At best we will be bruised, at worst we will find the jobs we once relied on are now forever gone. But the core of why we love music, this will remain – changed forever, but as strong or stronger than ever.


  • Peter San Diego says:

    A lovely post; thank you for it. If insomnia prompts creative ideas like the Flat-Bed Concerts, you should keep waking up in the early hours!

  • RW2013 says:

    I bet it’s your mother who is busy with the Coq au Vin in Chicago…

  • Alan says:

    Great to have you on Slipped Disc again. I so miss your regular slot.

  • Marg says:

    Anthea, you are ever the creative soul and thinking of others. I love this idea. Im sharing it around with others here in Aust.

  • Ricardo says:

    Wonderful. Thank you!

  • Jeannette Kreston says:

    Hey, RW2013, Indeed I made the coq au vin, but I’m also dusting off ye olde bread machine — actually got some yeast yesterday — and catching up on delayed projects around home. And I am not unaware, Anthea, but well informed. Everything is closed down in Chicago. People in our high rise community are organizing to open their windows, or go on their balconies (we don’t have one) and sing at a certain time of day. So everyone devises his/her own way of coping. Good luck to all!
    Jeannette Kreston

    • RW2013 says:

      Mmmm, love home-made bread.
      So you remember our meeting in the Boulez Saal last year. I was all ready to visit Chicago next month.
      It will happen when this is all over…