An Organist’s Perspective on COVID-19

For our entire forty-plus year careers in church music, Tim and I have always served different congregations, as we do currently. We live in Auburn, and several times each week, I travel 23 miles south to Spanaway Lutheran, and he 34 miles north to St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Seattle. We cherish being in community with both of our congregations, yet we never get to collaborate musically, nor experience worship together. But now, we along with all of our colleagues, are dutifully following the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, and Tim and I for the first time ever, have been busy collaborating in an effort to bring community through music to both of our churches remotely.

The technological learning curve was steep, making Holy Week even more stressful than usual, but we have now become comfortable with multi-track video recording, and have hit our stride. What does this collaboration look like? Tim takes the cantor role and I provide accompaniment on piano, reed organ and harpsichord. We discover all the neglected instruments laying around the house: tuba, harp, penny whistle, recorders. All manner of duets on all instruments, plus the addition of other remote musicians by the wonder of multi-track recording, have been a delightful adventure, and we hope a measure of comfort to our church communities.

The COVID-19 pandamic is terrifying; my heart aches for the world, and for friends and family as they try to cope with the current, sometimes grim, reality. At the same time, Tim and I try to stay in the moment – music, cooking, gardening, walks rainy and sunny, staying in touch with family and friends, prayer. We find the most gracious moment serving both of our churches from afar, together in faith, hopeful for the “joy that comes in the morning.” We miss all of you, and long for the day that we are able to be together. Stay well, friends!

Cheryl Drewes

Cheryl and Tim Drewes demonstrating a live-streamed performance from home

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