The COVID-19 pandemic affects employment for many occupations and that includes local musicians. In fact, most musicians across the country are out of work. Broadway, conventions, orchestra seasons, concerts and large events with music are canceled with re-openings not currently in sight. One music company in Orlando is trying to keep their musicians working by pivoting the services they provide.
“I saw our musicians out of work, discouraged and in financial crisis,” stated Andrea Rowlison, founder of Music Remembrance. “I wanted to find a safe way to keep our musicians working.”
Music Remembrance normally provides musicians, bands and music ensembles for weddings, events and concerts in Central Florida. They employ more than 160 Orlando area musicians and vocalists. All of the musicians are full time professionals that freelance for a living which includes performing for Music Remembrance, the symphonies and Orlando theme parks. For most of the musicians, all or the majority of their work is still canceled.
Rowlison tried to think of what the musicians could do to help the public during COVID that would keep them performing and create work for them. Thinking that people need happy and loving moments that create good memories during this time, she decided to try something completely different. Music Remembrance pivoted to focusing on performing singing telegrams and music telegram serenades. These telegrams bring joy to people and can be done safely during COVID.
The singers are performing singing telegrams with custom lyrics in formal attire or fun costumes. The musicians are performing serenade telegrams for anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and other occasions. To keep everyone safe, all of the details for the telegram are pre-arranged by phone and e-mail. The musicians and singers “mask up” and sanitize their hands before they ring the doorbell. They run about 15-20 feet away from the door, before it is opened, where they perform the telegram with a mask on.
The musicians are having fun performing the telegrams and people are really enjoying them. One of the Music Remembrance singers said, “I’m having so much fun. Everyone is so glad to see you. They just love it!” Rowlison added the singers and musicians are “loving performing surprise romantic telegrams and having a blast doing the funny ones.”
One surprise singing telegram was a one-woman band pretending to be a kooky street musician (safely from across the small street). As the birthday party came out of the restaurant they couldn’t help but notice the clamoring tambourines, drums and maracas strapped to her limbs as she wildly blasted her trombone. Then to everyone’s surprise, she broke into a pretty version of the “Happy Birthday” song. “Sam, if you haven’t guessed by now, this is a special birthday present from your loving daughter-in law. Today is your 50th birthday and this is your singing telegram!!!!” the musician exclaimed. She then sang custom sentimental about the wonderful things Sam had done for his family. The sender of the telegram, Corinne, wrote, “This was the highlight, main event of the night and OMG my ENTIRE family on both sides are talking about it ’til this day!!! All my friends and family are so amazed – we cannot believe you made him cry!!!!”
COVID has been a challenging time for all businesses. Getting creative and finding ways to survive is essential. Music Remembrance has found a fun way to keep their musicians working while bringing joy in a time that needs it.
Click here to see Music Remembrance Singing Telegram videos and continue to support local Orlando musicians.