Isolation Drills: Ellen Siberian Tiger

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

I’m Ellen from the Philly band Ellen Siberian Tiger. Obviously, all our shows have been cancelled, including the album release show we had planned for May, and all of our rehearsals are on hold since the band doesn’t live together. While that’s been tough, it’s not a serious hardship. I do really miss performing, though, so I’ve been doing live solo shows using the @ellensiberiantiger Instagram account for anybody who wants to tune in. My next one will be this Thursday, April 16. I’m fortunate because a lot of my income comes from teaching private cello, guitar, voice and piano lessons, and most of my students were willing to continue with our lessons on FaceTime and Zoom while we’re all stuck at home. That’s been helpful both financially and because I still have some sense of normalcy from seeing all my students each week. 

Since I’m fortunate enough to have a place to live that feels safe and a relatively reliable income, I’m left with a lot of time at home to consider how those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic must now worry about eviction in addition to their own health and safety. “Unfair” is too tame a word to describe being evicted because you aren’t able to work during a global pandemic, and yet it’s the reality many people will face. I encourage people to organize with their neighbors and fellow tenants to fight for rent and mortgage forgiveness in our city during this pandemic. To help feed people in need, I recommend donating to local organizations like the Unity And Survival Program and Philabundance. I also encourage people to donate to the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund and to think about those unable to isolate and “stay at home” because they are incarcerated or currently being detained. 

I was asked to write a little bit about how COVID-19 has affected me. This pandemic has made it clear to me that the systems we have in place are not good enough to get us all safely through crisis. We must support one another and work to create better systems that provide better support.