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How one professional singer is managing work from home

Rose Conlon Nov 3, 2020
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"When the pandemic hit, really quickly it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to sing again with other people." Courtesy of Ayana Haviv
COVID-19

How one professional singer is managing work from home

Rose Conlon Nov 3, 2020
Heard on:
"When the pandemic hit, really quickly it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to sing again with other people." Courtesy of Ayana Haviv
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Before the pandemic, Ayana Haviv, a professional singer based in Los Angeles, relied on income from live performances with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the LA Opera Chorus. She also recorded music for movies, TV shows and video games — all of which involved projecting her voice in close proximity to other musicians and audience members, often indoors.

The transition to working from home wasn’t exactly a smooth one.

“Singing is a superspreading activity. So when the pandemic hit, really quickly it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to sing again with other people — probably until there is a vaccine,” said Haviv. “I was looking at, you know, no work. Everything was basically shut down.”

The live performances and in-studio recordings that Ayana Haviv did pre-pandemic have ground to a halt. (Courtesy of Haviv)

After a few months of collecting unemployment, she noticed a shift in the industry.

“People started realizing [that] we’re not going to be in the same room making music together anytime soon. So let’s start recording at home.”

First she got some solo gigs that she recorded herself in her home studio. And then she started doing group choir recordings where each singer records themselves individually and everything is mixed together afterwards.

“It’s not nearly as emotionally satisfying or musically rewarding, but it sounds kind of surprisingly good for us all recording at home,” she said.

Once, Haviv herself took on the responsibility of coordinating a 32-person choir and ensuring each singer’s part was recorded in high-quality.

“Which was very challenging, but also rewarding. And in the end, we came up with something that we could really be proud of,” she said.

Even though Haviv had done some home recording work before the pandemic, she always preferred doing live performances and recording with other musicians in real time.

“I’m a very social person, like most singers, and the whole process of musical back and forth — you can’t get that when you’re just by yourself in your closet,” said Haviv. “But now I’m just so grateful that I have any musical work at all.”

She just hopes the organizations that used to employ performers like her are still around once the virus finally subsides.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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