After much consideration, discussion, and quiet contemplation I decided to set up my first ever Patreon account.
Patreon is a platform for creative artists to build a network of long term supporters. Patronage has for centuries been a way to build vital and practical relationships between artists and their supporters.
If you become a Patron of moi – Janet Swain – you will become part of a valued and exclusive – yes, exclusive! club, and I am already hatching ideas and events, which include behind the scene video chats, some bassoon playing, philosophizing and previews of new works, including my one woman show, Delphi Goes Bassooning (and, just to be clear, it is NOT a porno!)
You will also get free or discount tickets to all Song Dynasty Music and The Loveys events – including all Big Song Sessions and Workshops.
You can pledge any amount starting from $5 – you will see the currency is in Euros, but Ive added clearly what the AUD amount is. The amount is transferred from you to me at the beginning of each month.
I myself support two creative artists (just a tiny amount, but it can all add up) – a writer in the US (https://www.patreon.com/lauriepenny) and a photographer in England (https://www.patreon.com/BenHopper). It feels great to contribute, even in a small way to their creative work and each month I receive updates, info about what they are thinking and doing.
Here is the link to my Patreon page – have a look, see what you reckon!
Meanwhile, I just answered some questions (from Mandy Nolan) for an article about the current situation for me as a choir person and performer – here’s what I said, if youre interested!
So Janet pre the Covid ban on entertainment what did a regular gig look like for you?
Until 2 weeks ago I was doing lots of face to face teaching every week with the Big Song Sessions, in Brunswick Heads, Byron and Kingscliff – that’s around 40 to 50 people per week, the Brunswick Bowlo Community Choir, plus private singing teaching and the odd Loveys gig.
How had it impacted on you and your income?
I gradually closed all this teaching down once it became clear that there was a massive community responsibility involved in flattening the curve. That means a significant drop in my weekly regular income!
What about your mental health – are you coping with the sudden change and being shut in?
At first I went crazy, seeking out ways to take everything online – and researched like mad – I set up a Facebook group called Viral Choirs, where Ive been collecting and collating information from all over the world, and people like Mike Finch (ex Circus Oz) and Jennifer M Richardson from Creative Escape (she organises choir tours all around the world, especially Italy) as well as other choir leaders and performers have added their bit.
I was freaking out a bit at first! I have worked really hard to build up my business, and it is a business that is very much about community, closeness, listening, being ‘in the moment’. To suddenly lose that was (and still is) a big shock to my system, because really, I teach singing for myself as much as for anyone else! Singing makes me feel better in myself, makes me feel more alive and vital, and connected. Losing that is hard for all of us. Leaves a big hole.
How are you re-inventing what you do?
So, I had a few ideas – singing 2 m apart on the beach…. finding a block of apartments and singing on the balconies like the italians….. finding refrigerator cardboard boxes, and putting singers inside to sing (this is a mighty fine idea, and one I’d like to pursue!) …..
and of course online meetings. I, like every other singing teacher, have discovered Zoom, a platform that allows lots of people to be online face to face at the same time, and communicate with each other. it’s designed for conference calls, where there is one person speaking at the one time – and I suddenly realised that choirs and bands are the only groups that require everyone to make sound at the same time. Am I wrong about that? I can’t think of anything else – and nothing has been invented yet that deals with the time lag in sound. We’ve discovered if we sing really slowly, the sound kind of catches up, but it’s not great.
However, the great thing is that at least we get to be together in real time, sitting in our houses, and people get a chance to catch up with each other. Basically I am just teaching a song, and everyone sings away merrily at home for their families and animals. I feel strongly that these weekly sessions are as much about connecting as they are about singing.
Do you see this changing the way you work in the future?
Perhaps online choirs might be a thing in the future, but probably not for me so much. I like being with people too much, I like the feeling of being truly in the moment, responding to whatever is going on then and there, and I also like getting up close to people (I call it breaking through their auric field!) and really listening to them. The biggest buzz in singing is when you physically feel that sonic connection – when the frequencies in voices suddenly fit together and that’s where the magic is. I kind of live for that, and I don’t think I’ll ever experience that online.
when things get back to normal what are you most looking forward to?
Im looking forward to putting on a great big concert of all the songs we learn over the next few weeks/months!
Im looking forward to a new appreciation of crowds, and I will probably make people stand really close to each other to sing. I miss bumping bodies and hugging before during and after singing.
Im looking forward to a huge outpouring of creative work from artists and musicians all over the world. It will be a renaissance of creativity. I hope people miss it like mad, and seek it out when they are allowed to leave their homes.
For more information about the Big Song Sessions, join the Facebook group HERE